Financial Infidelity – Part Two

Financial infidelity money stories

Recently, I published a blog post about financial infidelity. It contained a broad overview of how our behavior with money manifests in relationships. This current post is part two of a three-part series about financial infidelity. If you’d like to see part one, please click here to read it.

In my first post, I wrote that there are two ingredients that need attention if we want to understand financial infidelity in ourselves or in our partner. By first understanding, we will get closer to managing our feelings about it. Those two ingredients are : 1) our money stories and 2) how we conceptualize transparency in our relationships. Because both topics require more specific explanation, I decided to dedicate blog posts to each topic.

What is meant by our money stories?

We develop a relationship with money, just like we develop relationships with people. These relationships could be healthy and satisfying or harmful and toxic. Usually we learn by observing our family’s spending habits. To look more deeply at your family’s behavior, consider these questions in your family growing up:

* Did you have enough money for basic necessities?

* Did your parents earn a high income, but you were forbidden to use the money?  

* Was money spent frivolously and not used for things you really needed?

* Were your parents or those who raised you employed?

* Did those who raised you have an adequate income? 

* Were your parents or those who raised you overly concerned about what others thought about them?

Many of these are yes or no questions.  Each question has a story to go along with it. This story is the plot line of your money story.  For example, maybe your family could not afford basic necessities. You observed conflict about spending in the house or you heard bill collectors calling your home. Your utilities were periodically cut off in your house. Maybe you didn’t have ample food to eat or you were unable to bring friends into your home as a child. Perhaps you experienced homelessness as a child or needed public assistance for food or living expenses. As a result of some of these experiences, you developed strong emotions about money.

What do I do with this information now?

These strong emotions led you to develop certain attitudes about money, some of which you heard growing up. Whether you learned that wealthy people are “evil” or that needy people are “lazy”, our family influenced us on some level. We sometimes grow to agree with some of the things we heard or we do a complete 180 and say that we will never share those attitudes.

Attitudes about money also sometimes influence career choices or how you go about earning a living. Did you say to yourself at some point, “I will never struggle like my parents did?” Or were you embarrassed by the extravagant items your parents bought? You might experience some emptiness in your career satisfaction if you find that you entered a career solely based on earning a high income.

Some of the emotions you may feel about money include disgust or shame. For example, if your family lacked money for basic necessities, you might still feel shame about not having enough. This may even cause you to feel “not good enough” as an adult. Conversely, if your family had an abundance of money, you might have felt disgust at the material items they purchased. Or you might feel annoyed by how much their cared about their own image.

Our feelings and attitudes about money influence our behavior with it. When we are in a relationship with someone, our money story is playing out, especially if we share a household. We act out what we learn.  Our fears of not having enough money sometimes cause us to withhold intimate financial details from our partners. In a similar way, a desire for to be seen in a certain light might cause us to purchase items without the partner’s knowledge.

How can I get some help with this?

When addressing situations where we withhold information from our partner or they are not sharing themselves fully with us, it’s important to examine our own money stories. If you recognize this pattern in your relationship and you think it’s time you started therapy, please reach out to me at Currently, I see clients online and can work with anyone located in the state of New Jersey. When life resumes some sense of normalcy, I will return to my office in Livingston, but will continue online therapy for clients who are more comfortable with that option.


Teletherapy: How Does It Work?

Teletherapy laptop; acquired from Pexels, no attribution required

Does anyone feel like they are really crushing it lately?  Chances are, in our day-to-day, we know people who act like they are on top of the world.  But the world has been a surreal place these days.  If you told anyone we’d be dealing with a quarantine due to a complicated virus a couple of months ago, no one would have ever believed it.  I bet you never believed you’d click on a blog post about teletherapy either.

Now that it’s been going on for over a month, depending on what state you’re in, you’re feeling feelings.  You’ve been feeling them all along.  And you’ve been feeling them long before this was even a blip on the radar.

Isolated from our extended families, friends, coworkers, and even the random chit-chat of strangers, you’re finding yourself irritable, angry, tearful, anxious, worried…Basically, I could word-vomit every emotion here because it’s a safe bet that you are all over the place.  Things you didn’t think you missed are popping into your mind.

You also might be bogged down by sleep disturbances, bizarre dreams, a lack of motivation, and exhaustion.  Which all make sense, given the new hats you’re wearing at home.  You’re working all the time now and helping your kids learn some new-fangled math you never saw before.  Simultaneously, you’re juggling laundry, dishes, meal prep, food shopping, caring for aging parents.  Again, I could go on, but you get the drift.

These things aren’t going to all go away overnight.  We’re in this for the long haul, most likely.  Even when we resume whatever “normal” looks like, our feelings won’t vanish.  This quarantine is shining a light on concerns you’ve had all along.  Being faced with the silence brings up things you wanted to ignore.  Fears of not being enough.  Temptations to connect with old flames on social media.  Managing your marriage and an extramarital relationship.  Concerns about whether you want to stay in your relationship.  A feeling that you’re done feeling “this way”, whatever “this way” means for you.

While therapy isn’t about getting hold of a magic wand and transforming yourself overnight, it can help you feel something different rather quickly.  This connection you make with another human being who is not your friend or family member can be comforting in the short term and transformative in the medium-to-long term.  The magic doesn’t even always happen during a session, but the wallop of a light-bulb moment can hit you at the most random time.

Now is a great time to start.  And yes, the vast majority of us are doing teletherapy now.  We are concerned for your safety as well as our own and we’ll get back into the office when it’s the appropriate time.  Why stay stuck in your life longer than you need to be?  Therapy won’t magically dissolve all of the juggling you’re doing right now, but it could help you feel better doing it.  It might even make you better at it.

You might be asking, how does this work, this teletherapy?  And why should I try it now?

If you were considering whether we’d be a good fit to work together, we can have a brief consultation and go from there.  Typically, I do a 15-minute consultation with you by phone or via, the secure online platform I use for teletherapy.  We’d set a regular appointment time and meet regularly via video or telephone if that’s your preference.

Most of us therapists love being in the room with clients.  There’s an energy I feel from the instant I welcome a client into my office.  It tells me so much about where you’re at emotionally.  And the colleagues I talk with regularly are missing that very much.  But there are some benefits to meeting you this way, too.

You can do a session with me anywhere, as long as you have reliable internet or phone service.  You can be in your jammies, have your dog or kitty on your lap, and enjoy your favorite beverage during our session.  Not only are you more comfortable, but it also gives me an interesting view into your real life.  You can even call me from your yard or your car if those are places you have the most privacy.

If you have any questions about teletherapy or if you think you’re ready to begin, I’d love to hear from you.  Email is best: 

You might also want to check out more about my practice here:

How I Can Help

Because of state licensure regulations, I am only able to practice in states I am licensed so even if you aren’t local to my physical office in Livingston, NJ, I can work with clients anywhere in the state.

Financial Infidelity – Part One

Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity has been an area that’s interested me for some time. I wrote this blog post several weeks ago – before a quarantine was even on our radar.

We are now going through a massive global health crisis that causes many of us to feel emotionally unstable. I’d bet very few people say they are feeling great right now. There are so many complicated emotions about what we are dealing with. So much fear and uncertainty about the health of ourselves and our loved ones. Financial concerns are also abounding due to the potential instability of our economy.

I’ve been at a loss about putting out a post about something other than Covid-19. Obviously it is on the minds of all of us. Considering that many people have lost their jobs or sources of income, there might be some relevance to posting this now.

What is so intriguing about this topic is that very few topics are as intimate as our interaction with money. Last month, the New York Times published an article about this very subject that once again, piqued my interest.

If you’re interested in checking it out, here’s a link to the article:

Financial infidelity, like affairs, can be defined in many different ways. It can mean so many different things to so many different people. Generally, financial infidelity could be defined as withholding certain details about finances from one’s partner. This involves one’s spending habits or whether someone is paying the bills as agreed upon. This could mean buying items in excess of what was planned and then hiding evidence of those items.  It could also mean taking out a loan or a credit card without informing the other partner or using money to gamble with, indulge in pornography, or buy drugs or alcohol with.

The article I shared above is typical of most articles on this subject. They always contain stories about doing something behind the back of your partner. But rather than dig into the emotional reasons that someone is pulled to deceive the other, they interview a marketing professional, provide data from a bank that seems to be in everyone’s neighborhood these days, and get the opinion of the head of a wealth management company. The closest they get to emotions is a quote from a financial coach. I had some high hopes about what he was going to contribute, but his advice involved the ambiguous “get your partner to do x, y, and z.” But selling your partner on a behavior isn’t what relationships are all about. It becomes more about creating a sales pitch to your partner than truly digging into what is driving their emotional train (and yours!) behind these behaviors.

I’m going to contribute my two-cents (sorry – I couldn’t avoid a money-oriented pun here!) from the perspective of a mental health professional. There’s an undercurrent to our emotions and behaviors that is worth exploring. This undercurrent causes us to eat when we know we aren’t hungry, curb our drinking when we know we drink for the wrong reasons, and spend money when we know we should save.

If financial infidelity is occurring in your relationship, changing it requires a clearer understanding why you are (or your partner is) concealing financial information or transactions.

There are two areas that I’d like to spend more time discussing that will appear in future blog posts.  The two areas to consider thinking about are:

1) our money stories and

2) what transparency means to us in our relationships.

If you or your partner is struggling with transparency in your relationship and you would like to consider working with me to resolve this, please contact me at My practice is located in Livingston, New Jersey. Due to the quarantine, I am providing services on a secure, online platform to clients anywhere in the state of New Jersey.