Your Spouse Cheated With Your Money...What Now?

Personal finances are a constant struggle in some relationships. 

Married To Medicine star Toya Bush-Harris should have it all as the wife of a doctor who’s been known to charge a $15,000 membership fees to his medical concierge services. But the mother of two received the shock of a lifetime when she learned that her family owed nearly $170,000 in back taxes. 

Toya revealed in this season’s opener that she had let her husband, Dr. Eugene Harris, be in control of their money for years. Eugene had signed over power of attorney to their accountant, without her knowledge. She admitted that she just hadn’t paid attention and, “It’s the most scariest thing I have ever experienced in my life.”

Trust is the foundation of any relationship – and money and sex are two of its biggest issues, according to Fran Greene, relationship expert and author of The Flirting Bible. “When you find out that your spouse has been lying about your finances, it’s like cheating - you trusted this person with your livelihood, and that trust is broken. It can blow you away.”

Toya, a former pharmaceutical rep, took matters into her own hands. She fired the accountant and took control of the family’s finances, a move that Fran states is a smart one. 

“Even though you feel you’ve been wronged, it’s not the time to throw your hands up in the air – it’s time to figure out a plan,” Fran advises. “Get a third party involved: a therapist, a financial advisor, a support group for financial infidels.”

Fran also suggests having a long conversation with your spouse. 

“Encourage your spouse to come clean and be honest. Even though you want to judge, you really need to listen because step one is getting the whole story.”

Next steps include looking at pay stubs to determine a budget and how you’ll be spending your money on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. There may be some discussion of a joint bank account so you can both track spending.

For Denise, the problem of hidden finances didn’t cause debt - well, at least not for him. Recently divorced, she had mentioned to her new boyfriend that she liked traveling about three times a year. His response was that he was a retired civil servant living on a small pension. Their first three trips, Denise, 57, paid her own way – and helped pay part of his. It was only after a year of dating she learned the truth – her boyfriend had stock piled a hefty savings due to investments.

“Being generous shows your appreciation for another human being,” says Fran. “Paying for more than your fair share can be a clear message that you’re not very important to him.”

Denise ended the relationship. She now travels with her best friends.

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