It May Not Physical Betrayal, But It's 'Just Like Having An Adulterous Affair'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For richer and for poorer, marriage is the ultimate partnership – but infidelities can rip it apart.

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And as CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Tuesday, infidelities do not always involve cheating in a conventional sense. Spouses who are financially unfaithful may also damage a relationship beyond repair.

“I looked one day and there was $500 left in the account — wedding money we put away,” one former wife said.

And that wasn’t even the worst of it for the woman, who said she is so embarrassed, she doesn’t even want her identity known.

She said her husband did more than take advantage of her.

“I had a charge card and I gave him one. He wouldn’t pay,” she said. “It went to totaling $38,000.”

She said the last straw was when she found out he was paying another woman’s mortgage.

“How sleazy can you get?” she said.

Divorce attorney Jeffrey Landers said he has seen dozens of marriages destroyed by financial infidelity.

“It’s infidelity, just like, you know, having an adulterous affair — but this relates to money,” he said.

Landers said financial infidelity is a betrayal no less devastating than cheating.

“You are doing things that are not in the open, because if it was something that you could talk about, you would probably do it,” he said. “It’s not being truthful in the relationship.”

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A man named “Steve” said he was victimized by his ex-wife.

“She probably liquidated in excess of $200,000 over the course of two years,” he said.

Steve said he had no idea his now ex-wife had been systematically looting accounts meant for their future — their life savings.

“There was no extramarital affair that I could surmise, but the reality is there was a clear violation of our commitment,” Steve said.

Ultimately, Steve said his wife betrayed a basic trust in their marriage

Experts stress how vital it is for couples to communicate openly about finances

“Talking about money is one of the most charged, difficult topics for couples to get into,” said marriage and family therapist Jane Greer. “In 60 seconds or less, fights can erupt and the conversation can shut down.”

Worse, research has shown half the people who do talk to their partners have lied about money.

Experts said the best way to have a healthy marriage is honesty about everything, especially money.

“I thought I knew the woman,” Steve said. “My advice is to keep your eyes on the money.”

Experts also recommend that you ask about any financial obligations your partner may bring into the relationship, and review all tax and other documents together.

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