NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Valentine's Day has come and gone, but one element of love and relationships that just won't go away is the issue of money.
Specifically, why so many couples lie about the green stuff to their spouses and partners.
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, lying about or hiding money issues from a spouse can do major damage to a relationships. NAFE says 76% "of financial deceptions have an effect on the relationship," yet 33% of couples report admit to lying to a spouse or partner about money.
NAFE calls it "financial infidelity."
"People commit financial infidelity because although they are sharing everything with their partner or spouse they believe that certain parts of their financial situation still should remain private," says Patricia Seaman, senior director with NEFE. "Additionally people are afraid of what their partner is going to say, how they will be judged, or they may be embarrassed."
Of people in a relationship who do hide money, the most common form of financial infidelity is hiding purchases or moving money to a "secret" bank account. Other forms include hiding bills from a loved one, lying about a debt and fudging on the amount of income one partner makes.
If you suspect your partner or spouse is shading the truth on money issues, how would you know?
NAFE says to watch out for the following red flags:
- A receipt or a bill you don't recognize.
- Not seeing a copy of a bill on a month-to-month basis.
- Your partner is "defensive" or "withdrawn" when the topic of money comes up.
Seaman says the best way to defuse or resolve a relationship money issue is to know ahead of time what you want to come out of any conversation or confrontation about money.
Being honest about money problems is also a necessity. Phrase the conversation along these lines, Seaman says: "I've done some spending you don't know about and I want to make sure we get on the same page and create goals today that we can stick to."
Don't expect the problem to be solved overnight. Big money problems in relationships take time to heal. "It will take sustained transparency in all communication, and it takes a commitment from both to stick to the goals that you've set together," Seaman says.