What to Do if Your Spouse Stole Your Money

by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach on January 19, 2012

in Couples and Money, Identity Theft


Pickpocket credit card

You may not be divorced or even separated when you find out that your spouse has been stealing money from you.

When your husband or wife steals money from your bank account or wallet, they may have lied to you to cover up their act and broken your trust.

Lies like these can be especially damaging to any relationship and you might find it difficult to trust your partner about other matters in the future.

Stealing money from a spouse isn’t something that’s easy to overlook and you might be wondering why they had to lie to you and what they spent the money on.

Here are some things you can do if you find out that your spouse was stealing money from you:

Bring the Issue Up Peacefully 

Approaching your spouse about the issue can be nerve-wracking and they might overreact or become angry when you explain that you know what they were doing. You can’t avoid conflict altogether but you will need to address the issue at the next opportunity.

Be calm and direct about what has happened and how you found out.

Avoid accusing your spouse of being a thief or a liar and focus instead on how you felt about what happened. Ask questions. Be as sincere and direct as possible so that you can both talk about the issue at hand.

Seek Therapy 

If you and your spouse were already having communication issues or your marriage is on the rocks, now might be a good time to seek couples counseling.

You don’t have to seek counseling specifically to address the theft, but you can bring it up at some point during therapy so that a third-party can help to address the issue.

Counseling can be the best way for both parties to open up and really talk about any problems that might have led to stealing money or lying. 

Set Up a Separate Bank Account 

You have the right to have your own bank account even when you’re married. If you previously had joint accounts and set a budget on how much each spouse would spend, consider closing that account and owning individual accounts.

You could also have a joint account just for joint expenses, such as your living expenses and other necessities.

Setting up a separate bank account might give you some peace of mind and make it easier for you to protect your hard-earned dollars in the event that you continue to experience marriage problems.

Get to the Real Root of the Problem

If you’re truly shocked to find out about missing money, and this hasn’t been a pattern in the past with your spouse, realize that your husband or wife’s financial theft is a symptom of a much-deeper problem, or even many problems. He or she might be a gambler, could be abusing drugs, might be having an affair, or could simply be a shopaholic.

Or maybe there’s no personal problem at all with your spouse. Perhaps a family member is in dire financial straits and your spouse has been helping a relative out financially.

Realistically, you’ll never know the truth about what’s been going on until you fix another problem: and that is the lack of communication over the issue. So try to start with a civil conversation about the matter. To preserve the marriage and to rebuild any lost trust, you’ll both need to resolve to stay on the same page in the future, from a communications standpoint, emotionally and financially too.


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