Thursday, February 07, 2008

Financial Infidelity

Sometimes blogging material just falls in my lap. Today in the car I caught the following radio spot, narrated by Donald Trump. Normally I wouldn't bring Donald Trump into my blog, but it fits right into the "Our Finances" series, so I had to share it (fortunately, I was able to find the transcript online). Mr. Trump's voice on his radio spot adds a lot, but I can't upload the voice.

"Sure, you’ve heard about normal infidelity, but what about financial infidelity? That’s when women hide their spending from their spouses. [I'd say that is when one spouse, any spouse, hides pertinent information from the others. . . .but, for some reason Mr. Trump decided to focus on the women].

According to several recent stories I’ve read, women are likely to buy expensive designer items with cash. That way, it’s easier to hide their spending from their husband or boyfriend.

In fact, it gets so serious sometimes that more than 80 percent of American women go so far as to actually hide department store shopping bags from their men so they don’t even suspect they were out buying things.

Some people say it’s only fair. Lots of guys cheat in the bedroom, so what if lots of women cheat at the mall?

I say cheating is cheating, whatever kind it is. Sooner or later, you’re going to get caught so decide whether the thrill is worth the price you’ll pay in the end."

Donald Trump focuses on the women in his radio spot. We know that men hide a lot of financial information from their wives also. Either way, it is a form of infidelity and undermines the marriage.

From a halachic standpoint, "Financial Infidelity," involves many issurim. The Ben Ish Hai addresses the issue of a wife's responsiblity to guard the husband's assets in his sefer for women. Unfortunately, "Financial Infidelity" is a problem amongst the am yisrael, as it is amongst the general public.

I think a smart rule of thumb to follow is that if you feel uncomfortable telling your spouse about a purchase, investment, or business scheme, you shouldn't be buying, investing, or engaging in it until the issue is hashed out. I am a believer that trust is probably the most important element in a healthy marriage. Without trust, the foundation is cracked.

Short and sweet. Up next, advice for singles.


Anonymous said...

I agree, unless the expense is a surprise present (within what you can afford) for the spouse.

I would add that no one should engage in a transaction that they wouldn't want to read about in the paper.

Ariella's blog said...

I share your perspective on this. When women lightly relate how they sneak purchases or lie to their husbands about how much something cost, I feel quite horrified. My guess is that husbands who earn the larger part of the household income may feel justified in spending what they regard as their "own" money because they earned it. Both spouses really have to see the household as a whole rather than his and her assets unless they want the type of relationship that requires a financial prenuptial agreement.

Anonymous said...

I see this behavior all the time. My wife hears stories from girl friends about buying clothes and such beyond their husband's back and I hear stories from guy friends about gambling at Atlantic City, "friendly" poker games and such without telling their wives their losses. Unfortunately, this is all too common in the frum world.

David said...

I have some friends who are going through a rough time in their marriage due to this sort of thing. It's painful, and totally avoidable.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

I would think for those who use them, this sort of behavior would also violate the tena'im signed at their wedding.

ProfK said...

There might well be a connection between this type of "financial infidelity" and your previous posting on women who are given "allowances" or who are kept in the dark about family finances. In one case, this might be a woman's way of "getting back" at the man who is keeping her on a short leash financially. Another case might be the woman who seems to know that there is more money available than she is being given access to but who feels her husband might not understand her need for whatever she is buying, so she buries that expenditure by paying cash. Or there may be the woman who sees her husband spending on what "he wants" but who does not extend that privilege to her, so she goes "underground" to get herself something. Another woman might have seen this type of behavior in her mother and may be assuming this is how things are done.

In all cases what this type of behavior is pointing to is a lack of communication on the part of the couple. The hidden spending is not the problem itself but is a symptom of something in the marriage that needs real fixing.

Anonymous said...

Women hide purchases for many reasons

1. Her husband is both selfish and cheap and she needs to buy something for herself, knowing full well that her purchases are within the means.

2. She does not want to go through a whole explanation of why she needs warm waterproof boots for snow days if she already has waterproof boots and dressy high heel boots. Or something similar to that. Again, it's ok if she knows that they can afford to make this purchase.

Anonymous said...

Dave in DC-
FYI, the tenaim only relates to the agreement to get married (i.e., what happens if someone breaks the engagement) and becomes totally null and void once the couple gets married. Given that it is only signed at the chasuna itself, why it is used these days at all is a good question (I know that many chasidim sign it up at the enagagement).

Orthonomics said...

ProfK-Beautifully stated. I would like to post about the system a co-worker of mine shared with me that both gave them leeway, while creating "financial intimacy."

JS-I have heard that the purchases which are made from frum stores and later returned (after a fight) hurt frum vendors, to say nothing of frum marriages.