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Is It Okay to Hide Money From My Spouse?

Dear CMR,

My husband and I have separate bank accounts. He knows how much money I make, but I recently earned a raise. I am conflicted about whether or not to mention it to him. I am afraid if I tell him he will think of it as, "Ok, now we can buy something." I think we should save for a rainy day! Am I being an ungodly wife by not telling him, or is it the enemy putting thoughts into my head to doubt what I know is right in my heart? Please give me some advice. Thank you!  ­

Signed, Conflicted

Dear Conflicted, 

I understand your desire to put the money away for a rainy day. I imagine you want to be responsible, and you want to create financial stability for your family. That’s very wise. 

However, it’s even wiser not to withhold information from your spouse because if you do, it will break the bonds of trust and dependability between you for a long time.  And that’s very hard to recover once it has been lost.

There seem to be two issues that you and your husband are dealing with: First, your differing views on financial management. Second (and even more important), is issue of trust.

I’m curious as to why you have separate bank accounts instead of sharing one account?  Usually, when a couple marries, they join every aspect of their lives together, including finances.  When they don’t, there’s usually a deeper issue of trust, power and transparency involved.  That is a warning sign that needs to be acknowledged and addressed by you both.

By not telling your husband about your raise, it is the same as lying (i.e., the sin of omission). It would be deceiving him. How would he feel if he found out the truth? Put yourself in his shoes and ask yourself how would you feel if you found out he was hiding money from you?

Scripturally, the God’s Word is very clear about lying and deceitfulness:

Do not deceive one another. Leviticus 19:11

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3

You seem to be a woman of true integrity or you would not have asked the question in the first place! You genuinely want to do the right thing with your money, and I praise God for that! What you must guard against is trying to meet your legitimate desire for financial security in illegitimate ways that do not honor God because you are fearful.

So, I suggest two things:

  1. Tell your husband about your raise and celebrate God’s blessing to you and your family.
  2. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with your husband.
    • Ask him what he thinks you as a team should do with the extra money. Listen carefully and validate his ideas. (i.e. “Oh, that sounds fun!” or ”That’s a good idea.”)
    • Then share with your husband your desire to save some of it for a rainy day.  Tell him how it makes you feel when you put money into savings (secure, responsible, fair).
    • Suggest a compromise that would meet BOTH of your desires. See if you can determine an amount to spend and an amount to save.
    • Make sure in this conversation you communicate that your priority is to listen to him, understand his perspective, and collaborate with him. And he will likely do the same in return when he doesn’t feel judged or controlled by you or like he has to fight for his point of view.
    • The goal is to find a “win/win” solution that both of you can be happy with. (If one of you wins and the other loses, then you BOTH LOSE.)

In taking these steps, this money issue can actually be a springboard for healthy future conversations between you, as well as deeper intimacy and trust.