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There's a different kind of infidelity out there and it involves your money

On The Money NerdWallet High Interest Loans
Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 19:51:54-05

This Valentine's Day, therapists are issuing a warning: watch your money and your accounts.

Wendy Barlin, a CPA and Chief Strategist for "About Profit," says looks can be deceiving.

"People assume that it's easy for me," Barlin said. "That's because I have a CPA license, so I must know how to manage my money."

Now, at the height of her professional career, Barlin admits it was a rocky road to get to where she now sits.

That road seemed perfect more than 14 years ago when she was happily married. But her then-husband was hiding something.

"Just one more night at the tables, just one more night," Barlin said. "There I am, CPA, a partner in a firm in Los Angeles driving to the casinos at night to drag him out. And I didn't even know the amount he had amassed to follow this winning dream."

That debt, she would later learn, amassed to some $55,000.

"Ultimately, I was responsible for those, and I paid off every single dollar myself."

She's since moved on, remarried, had two kids, and now she helps people make smart money choices, which often ties into smart relationship choices.

"That's where the therapist comes in because I don't always think it's a call for divorce; maybe there is a way out," Barlin said.

Dr. Richelle Moen is a psychologist, a marriage and family therapist, and professor at The University of Minnesota Medical School.

"If you're the first to admit the problem, it makes it a whole lot quicker and deeper in terms of you coming forward and recognizing and stating that you have a problem," Dr. Moen said. "The hope is, and I'm a marriage and family therapist, that we can find a way to repair, but both have to be incredibly motivated to work on this relationship and the commitment to the relationship."

Dr. Moen has seen it all in her 30 years of counseling.

People were hiding purchases, addictions, even child support payments.

"Oftentimes, people wait until they're married to discuss budgets and what's important to you, and so what happens they get into a relationship long term or a marriage and try to figure it out and say whoa that isn't what I was expecting."

She recommends doing the bills and finances together. And while you can't change others, you can change yourself. After all, Wendy Barlin did.

"I still struggle with a lot of these choices every single day, but I have the tools now to help my family and me to manage our money smarter and be more open and honest with each other, so there are no surprises," Barlin said.

Her top piece of advice now? Have three accounts with your partner. A "yours", "mine," and "ours" and bring all the secrets to the table.