By CATEY HILL
1. "I spend more on my mistress than I do on you."
Forty-one-year-old Bill, an insurance sales rep, says he loves his wife, but it's his mistress who gets all the pricey gifts. The Bay area resident, who asked that we withhold his last name to protect his family, gave his 26-year-old mistress an iPad and took her on a $2,500 ski vacation at a tony ski resort in Vail, Colo., for Christmas last year. His wife's gift: An espresso machine. The reason he spent more on his mistress, he says, is that she's still "in the spoiling stage." He says he no longer spoils his wife of 12 years, opting instead for "group gifts" for the whole family.
About 15-to-18% of married Americans admit they've had an extramarital affair -- a rate that's stayed relatively steady for the past couple decades -- according to the General Social Survey, which tracks extramarital affairs. And not only are married couples cheating, they're spending a lot of their hard-earned cash on their lovers. If your hubby's got a mistress, he's likely to spend $125 on her holiday gift compared to just $60 on yours, according to a survey of more than 140,000 users of AshleyMadison.com, a match-making site for married individuals looking for affairs.
2. "I have a secret bank account."
Think only the Bernie Madoffs of the world keep secret bank accounts? Think again. Fifteen percent of married people have a bank account they keep hidden from their spouses, according to a 2011 National Endowment for Financial Education/Forbes study. For some, the reasons for this secret account are innocent enough, such as opening the account before they were married and not getting around to closing it yet, says couples therapist Michael Manchester. But others' intentions are far more nefarious. For example, some individuals open a secret bank account when they're planning for a divorce to better hide their savings, says Manchester. Others have special accounts so they can buy things their spouse might not approve of, says Tina Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of "Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage."
But secret-account holders beware: Most of the time, the spouse finds out usually by accident, such as opening a letter from the bank, says Lisa Helfend Meyer, a founder member of the law firm Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers. And the fallout can be serious, including divorce, separation and harassment, experts say. Take the case of Long Island, N.Y., resident Nazita Aminpour, who sued Chase bank for allegedly spilling the beans on the $800,000 bank account she kept secret from her husband. In the lawsuit, she claims that after the bank teller told her husband about the account, he began harassing her and demanding money, a situation that got so bad that Aminpour gave him $155,000 "to save her marriage and restore order to the marital home," the lawsuit said.
3. "I have an 'office spouse' I adore."
She remembers your birthday, she knows you like Thai on Tuesdays, she even knows about the marital troubles your parents are having. But here's the catch -- she's not your wife. About one in three people has an "office spouse" a colleague he or she is close to, but in a platonic way, according to a 2010 survey by career site Vault.com. "The role it serves is to give the working partners someone with whom they can share office secrets, exchange support and be companions on the job," says Tessina.
Often, the relationships are completely harmless, especially when individuals are open about it with their spouses. But other times, it can be the source of immense jealousy for a partner, especially if he or she thinks her spouse is sharing too much with a co-worker, says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, author of "Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness." "When it comes to the office spouse, the issue of emotional infidelity is usually most relevant," says Manhattan psychologist Joseph Cilona. And that infidelity can hurt, especially for women. A study published in 2010 in the journal Psychological Science found that although both sexes experience jealousy over emotional infidelity, women tend to view it as an even worse betrayal than sexual infidelity.
4. "I'm going to pretend I never bought that (or at least lie about what it cost)."
For nearly 35 years, Wilmington, N.C., resident Syble Solomon kept many purchases a secret from her husband or misled him about what they cost. When Solomon would buy a new blouse, she'd often hide it in her dresser for weeks. If her husband asked about it when she finally wore it, she'd often say she'd "had it forever." "When I was growing up, my mom would always tell me after we went shopping: 'don't tell your father.' Without realizing it, I got the message and here I was 40 years later still 'not telling,'" she says.
Nearly one in three people in married relationships has misrepresented what a purchase has cost to a partner, and 30% have lied about buying something, according to a 2010 American Express survey. Often, the motivation is to avoid conflict, says Dr. Cilona. "Most couples have a good sense of where [each other's] values and beliefs around money and spending agree and conflict. This can make it easier to lie, mislead or purposely avoid sharing information that is likely to lead to an argument," he says. And the results of such lying can be disastrous, both emotionally and financially. Meyer has advised multiple clients who felt compelled to file for divorce after discovering a series of secret purchases her spouse had made.
5. "I earn more than you think."
While some people may inflate their compensation to make themselves seem more attractive, others actually go the other way by hiding bonus checks or pay from a side job. About one in 10 married individuals said they have lied to their partner about how much they earned, a National Endowment for Financial Education/Forbes study found. And younger couples are doing the bulk of the lying: Nearly one in four people aged 18-to-34 admit to lying to their spouse about money, while just 3% of adults 55 and older do. Some people lie about their earnings because they like to have a "just-in-case stash of money" that they can use for whatever they want and not have to consult with their spouse about it, says Lombardo. Other people are "afraid that if the spouse knows about the extra money, like a bonus, he or she will spend it," she says. Such lying can lead directly to divorce court, says Meyer. And that's where it can get nasty, she says. "Most of the time, there's a paper trail of these things so it comes out in court people find out some horrible things."
6. "I'm happier because I make more money than you "
Yes, who brings home the bacon does really matter. Men who earn more than their spouse report significantly higher career and family satisfaction than men who earn roughly the same amount as their spouse, according to a 2009 study from Cornell University. Pamela Tolbert, the co-author of the study, says this may be partially explained by the satisfaction men feel in being able to achieve the traditional role of breadwinner. On the flipside, men who don't fit the traditional mold may feel unhappy or act out. "Men can feel disempowered or emasculated when they have to depend on their wives financially," says Alisa Ruby Bash, a marriage and family therapist. "It can feel childlike." And some of them misbehave: A man whose wife is the sole earner, for example, is five times more likely to cheat on her than a man whose wife earns about the same as him, according to the American Sociological Association.
But the fact that your husband's satisfaction -- or dissatisfaction -- comes from comparing himself to your earnings isn't likely to be the topic of dinner table conversation, experts say. Some men don't want to seem like they're in competition with their wives over earnings, experts say. And those who earn less "don't want to talk about how much less in control they feel knowing they are dependent on their wife," Bash says.
7. " but I hate being the breadwinner."
Your wife may be open about loving her career, but don't expect her to be as forthcoming about its effects on her happiness at home. In 1970, just 4% of wives earned more than their husbands, but by 2007, nearly one in four did, according to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center. And while earning a significant chunk of the family's income gives wives more career satisfaction, it leads to significantly lower family satisfaction, according to a 2009 study from Cornell University. Pamela Tolbert, the co-author of the study, says this dissatisfaction has its roots in the guilt many women feel when they violate traditional gender roles. Other researchers agree: "Women are likely to feel guilt and shame that they may not have the time or energy to give 100% [to family]," says Bash.
And though your wife might complain about the dishes or the growing pile of laundry on the floor, she's less likely to share with you the familial dissatisfaction that often comes with of being the main earner. Many wives "don't want to emasculate their husband," Bash says. "It's easier to keep going, pretend everything is fine, and that they are strong enough to do it all." And sadly, women being the main income-earner can be disastrous: Couples in which the woman makes 60% or more of the family's income are 38% more likely to divorce than those in which the man earns more, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Family Issues found.
8. "I married you for money."
Both men and women are ok with a little gold digging. Two out of three women and half of men said they were "very" or "extremely" willing to marry an average-looking person they liked, as long as he or she had money, according to a survey of more than 1,100 people by wealth research firm Prince & Associates. As men get older, they're more likely to say they'd marry for money (61% of men in their 40s would, compared to just 41% in their 20s), while women were most likely to want to get hitched for cash in their 30s. And these money chasers don't come cheap: The average one demands a partner with an average net worth of $1.5 million, according to Prince & Associates. And maybe it's not gold digging at all, but just good sense.Sociologists Pamela Smock, Wendy Manning and Meredith Porter, for example, found that nearly three out of four cohabitating people say that economic factors like money, jobs or assets played a role in their decision to marry their spouse.
People marry for money for many reasons, including wanting a sense of security or more freedom, or thinking that having money will boost their self-esteem or self-worth, says Cilona. And while it's true that "money can trump other flaws initially ... that honeymoon period will end," says Lombardo.
9. "I'd rather you cheat on me than lie about money."
What would hurt you more -- a spouse who cheated or one who lied about money? If you're like nearly one in four Americans, your partner being open about money is more important to you than him or her being honest about having an affair, according to a 2005 survey of nearly 1,800 people conducted by Harris Interactive for Redbook magazine and Lawyers.com. And if you're on the open-about-money side, prepare to be disappointed, as more than one in three Americans admit to lying to their spouse about money, according to the NEFE/Forbes study. While some of these lies were minor, like hiding a small purchase from your spouse, others were more significant. More than half of married folks admitted to hiding cash from their partner or spouse and more than one in 10 to concealing how much debt they had.
So why the big fuss about financial fidelity? Experts say that because money is associated with some very personal emotions, a financial betrayal can be devastating. "Money is so personal -- people put their blood, sweat and tears into making it -- so this [lying about money] can feel like a complete betrayal of trust," Lombardo says. And, "money means security," says Judge Lynn Toler, a writer for Divorce Magazine and host of "Divorce Court." "Lying about it can make people feel unsafe." Furthermore, the effects of financial infidelity can far exceed feelings of betrayal. These kinds of lies can sometimes be "unforgivable and jeopardize your own credit, future and freedom," says Bash.
10. "I blew our savings because the saleswoman was beautiful."
You two may be the happiest married couple in the world, but that doesn't mean your husband is immune to the powers of a beautiful woman. A 2008 study out of Stanford University found that men take bigger financial risks right after looking at sexy women. And the results of a study by evolutionary psychologists Margo Wilson and Martin Daly echo this finding, demonstrating that men behave more impulsively than normal when an attractive woman catches their eye.
Sometimes the man might be unaware that the beautiful woman is spurring his behavior, but other times, he knows exactly what's going on -- though for obvious reasons, he's not going to admit that to you. The behavior is driven, in part, by biology. In the presence of a beautiful woman, men get a surge of testosterone and thus take more risks most likely a product of evolution, with men taking risks to show off their health and vigor in a competition for a woman, concludes a study on risk-taking from the University of Queensland in Australia. But other times, it's driven by status and a desire to impress. Men often buy something expensive from a beautiful saleswoman because "this can show that woman that he's successful." And part of this behavior may be driven by emotional immaturity. "He's acting on his fantasy world, and ignoring the consequences which is a definition of emotional immaturity," says Tessina.