Dr. Bonnie Eaker – Financial Infidelity (Part 1)

An Interview with Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil about her Book

Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker

Stronger Families’ CEO, Noel Meador, talks with well-known relationship therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil. Dr. Bonnie has appeared on numerous talk shows, including The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America,and The View. She is the author of several popular books, including Make Up, Don’t Break Up; Adultery, the Forgivable Sin; and Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker.

During today’s podcast, you will learn:

A. Why are financial troubles the #1 relationship wrecker?

The statistics regarding “financial infidelity” are staggering: 40% of people lie about their purchases, and 82% hide purchases from their spouses. Handling money creates a complex and dynamic power struggle among couples, partly due to its inherent power but also due to the way we were raised. You’ve heard the saying, “Opposites attract,” and it holds true for the type of money handler we choose to marry; savers tend to pick spenders and vice versa. If you are not careful, the love of money can create a toxic dynamic between you and your spouse, and entice you to view money as a stand-in for love.

According to Dr. Bonnie, financial infidelity is typically triggered by a need to fill up an emptiness from childhood. Many people replace their longing for parental love or a lack of money from their childhood with an unhealthy view of money in adulthood. Financial infidelity is so subtle and subversive that it is on the same level as sexual infidelity. All of the same symptoms are present: lying, hiding, making excuses, and disregarding your spouse’s feelings and wants. There is no such thing as an innocent fib when it comes to money.

B. What are the physical implications of financial infidelity?

Many who are financially unfaithful cheat due to their increased desire for danger and thrills. For those who struggle with financial infidelity, the pain and pleasure sensations in their prefrontal cortex are different than normal. Instead of feeling apprehensive, afraid, or guilty after a large purchase, they feel invigorated and happy. For those who have a dopamine imbalance in their brains, there is an increased risk for excessive gambling because they are driven by risk reward, immediate gratification, and thrill-seeking.

C. What are the seven steps couples can take to move past financial infidelity?

  1. Calculating the cost: the person committing the infidelity believes their financial situation will work out “magically.” Most likely it won’t, and he/she needs to be honest about the consequences of infidelity.
  2. Investigating the power dynamic: the balance of power between men and women. How does this play out in your relationship?
  3. Unpacking inherited money behavior: understanding how your family legacy impacts your relationship with money.
  4. Breaking up with your money: learning how to stop the cycle of revenge spending as a way to cope with a fight.
  5. Letting go of greed and envy: having gratitude for the many blessings in your life.
  6. Refinancing your relationship: spending 30 seconds each day connecting with your spouse on a physical level with a hug or kiss.
  7. Investing in your future: write down what you like about your spouse and the ways in which you enjoy spending time with him/her.

D. What are the first steps towards healing from an infidelity?

The first thing to do is to sit down with your spouse and make a verbal list of all of the blessings you have. Banish greed and envy by recognizing what you have. Choose not to withhold from your spouse the things he/she really wants. Second, make a weekly appointment with each other to draw up a budget, pay the bills, and get on the same page about your finances. Write down your financial goals for the next 5, 10, 20 years, and rank each goal. Listen to your spouse’s wants and needs, and seek to understand why he/she feels those items are important. Lastly, open up a shared “guilt-free” bank account, and decide together how much money you will invest for the “I want this” purchases.

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