- 8 years ago
- Wedding: December 1969
Has anyone kept these secrets or had them kept from them?
1. “I have a secret bank accout.”
Think only the Bernie Madoffs of the world keep secret bank accounts? Think again. Fifteen percent of married people have a bank account they keep hidden from their spouses, according to a 2011 National Endowment for Financial Education/Forbes study. For some, the reasons for this secret account are innocent enough, such as opening the account before they were married and not getting around to closing it yet, says couples therapist Michael Manchester. But others’ intentions are far more nefarious. For example, some individuals open a secret bank account when they’re planning for a divorce to better hide their savings, says Manchester. Others have special accounts so they can buy things their spouse might not approve of, says Tina Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of “Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.”
But secret-account holders beware: Most of the time, the spouse finds out — usually by accident, such as opening a letter from the bank, says Lisa Helfend Meyer, a founder member of the law firm Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers. And the fallout can be serious, including divorce, separation and harassment, experts say. Take the case of Long Island, N.Y., resident Nazita Aminpour, who sued Chase bank for allegedly spilling the beans on the $800,000 bank account she kept secret from her husband. In the lawsuit, she claims that after the bank teller told her husband about the account, he began harassing her and demanding money, a situation that got so bad that Aminpour gave him $155,000 “to save her marriage and restore order to the marital home,” the lawsuit said.
2. “I have an ‘office spouse’ I adore.”
She remembers your birthday, she knows you like Thai on Tuesdays, she even knows about the marital troubles your parents are having. But here’s the catch — she’s not your wife. About one in three people has an “office spouse” — a colleague he or she is close to, but in a platonic way, according to a 2010 survey by career site Vault.com. “The role it serves is to give the working partners someone with whom they can share office secrets, exchange support and be companions on the job,” says Tessina.
Often, the relationships are completely harmless, especially when individuals are open about it with their spouses. But other times, it can be the source of immense jealousy for a partner, especially if he or she thinks her spouse is sharing too much with a co-worker, says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, author of “Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.” “When it comes to the office spouse, the issue of emotional infidelity is usually most relevant,” says Manhattan psychologist Joseph Cilona. And that infidelity can hurt, especially for women. A study published in 2010 in the journal Psychological Science found that although both sexes experience jealousy over emotional infidelity, women tend to view it as an even worse betrayal than sexual infidelity.
3. “I’m going to pretend I never bought that (or at least lie about what it cost).”
For nearly 35 years, Wilmington, N.C., resident Syble Solomon kept many purchases a secret from her husband or misled him about what they cost. When Solomon would buy a new blouse, she’d often hide it in her dresser for weeks. If her husband asked about it when she finally wore it, she’d often say she’d “had it forever.” “When I was growing up, my mom would always tell me after we went shopping: ‘don’t tell your father.’ Without realizing it, I got the message and here I was 40 years later still ‘not telling,'” she says.
Nearly one in three people in married relationships has misrepresented what a purchase has cost to a partner, and 30% have lied about buying something, according to a 2010 American Express survey. Often, the motivation is to avoid conflict, says Dr. Cilona. “Most couples have a good sense of where [each other’s] values and beliefs around money and spending agree and conflict. This can make it easier to lie, mislead or purposely avoid sharing information that is likely to lead to an argument,” he says. And the results of such lying can be disastrous, both emotionally and financially. Meyer has advised multiple clients who felt compelled to file for divorce after discovering a series of secret purchases her spouse had made.
4. “I earn more than you think.”
While some people may inflate their compensation to make themselves seem more attractive, others actually go the other way by hiding bonus checks or pay from a side job. About one in 10 married individuals said they have lied to their partner about how much they earned, a National Endowment for Financial Education/Forbes study found. And younger couples are doing the bulk of the lying: Nearly one in four people aged 18-to-34 admit to lying to their spouse about money, while just 3% of adults 55 and older do. Some people lie about their earnings because they like to have a “just-in-case stash of money” that they can use for whatever they want and not have to consult with their spouse about it, says Lombardo. Other people are “afraid that if the spouse knows about the extra money, like a bonus, he or she will spend it,” she says. Such lying can lead directly to divorce court, says Meyer. And that’s where it can get nasty, she says. “Most of the time, there’s a paper trail of these things so it comes out in court … people find out some horrible things.”
5. “I spend more on my mistress than I do on you.”
Forty-one-year-old Bill, an insurance sales rep, says he loves his wife, but it’s his mistress who gets all the pricey gifts. The Bay area resident, who asked that we withhold his last name to protect his family, gave his 26-year-old mistress an iPad and took her on a $2,500 ski vacation at a tony ski resort in Vail, Colo., for Christmas last year. His wife’s gift: An espresso machine. The reason he spent more on his mistress, he says, is that she’s still “in the spoiling stage.” He says he no longer spoils his wife of 12 years, opting instead for “group gifts” for the whole family.
About 15-to-18% of married Americans admit they’ve had an extramarital affair — a rate that’s stayed relatively steady for the past couple decades — according to the General Social Survey, which tracks extramarital affairs. And not only are married couples cheating, they’re spending a lot of their hard-earned cash on their lovers. If your hubby’s got a mistress, he’s likely to spend $125 on her holiday gift compared to just $60 on yours, according to a survey of more than 140,000 users of AshleyMadison.com, a match-making site for married individuals looking for affairs.