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Is Your Partner a Cheater -- with Money?

How honest are you and your partner about money? Do you ever hide purchases or wonder where all of your money is going?

On "The Early Show" Friday, CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller investigated the effects of lying about money in relationships.

Miller noted, "Sometimes you see an item you just can't live without, but it comes with a price tag that your partner can't live with. Confessing a splurge to a stranger is easy, but many are tempted to hide them from a significant other. Experts say this kind of deception is a common occurrence."

Relationship expert and author Cooper Lawrence said, "It's funny. On my radio show, we've had women call up and say they lie about purchases and what they do is they hide them in the trunk of their car and they slowly bring out a new sweater, and claim it's an old sweater, because they don't want their husband to ask, well is this where my money is going?"

According to a recent poll by The National Endowment for Financial Education and for Forbes-Woman, 31 percent of Americans in committed relationships have lied about finances and 58 percent have hid cash or minor purchases.

These small buys can become big problems, according to relationship expert Matthew Titus.

Titus said, "Financially cheating can be worse than physical cheating because money is our livelihood."

Miller reported, when brought to light, these infidelities can lead to separation and divorce.

According to Lawrence, the secret to a blissful bottom line is honesty.

Lawrence said, "You have to treat money like every other aspect of the relationship. Let's put it all out there on the table. Because that is going to be what comes between you at some point."

"Early Show" contributor and psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein also weighed in on this issue on the show. When asked which is more damaging financial cheating or conventional affairs involving sex, Hartstein said, "Well, lying is a betrayal. So any part of it is betraying your confidence. We get married, we say, you know, in sickness and in health, to death do us part, honor one another, not lie. All of those things. So we want to think about what that means. And if you're not being honest, that's a huge problem because, what does it mean in the big picture if you can't be honest?"

"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill asked, "What is it about money? Because it really isn't just in a marriage or a relationship that it's tough to talk about money. This is probably one of the most difficult topics of conversation for anyone. Why?"

Hartstein said money is about security.

"It's funny, because people say they can talk about sex more than they can talk about money," she said. "And the fact is money denotes power. ... It can, in some situations, denote love, and we have to be really aware of what that means and that's why it's so rife and so fraught with this conflict and these difficulties."

Hartstein also identified some of the common signs of relationship issues involving money:

Do you or your partner get defensive or change the topic when money comes up? - Hartstein said, "You have to wonder why are we not being able to talk about this?"

Is only one person managing the finances? - She said, "Are they the only person managing the finances? Are they in control all the time and won't discuss it with you? So it's not a matter of one person being better at it than the other, it's really just, 'We're not going to discuss it, just give me your paycheck and I'll take control.'"

Is your partner dishonest about money with other people? - She said, "If they're going to be dishonest about what money they make and what they're spending with other people, they may be dishonest with you, as well."
To get more involved in your money situation, Hartstein said opening the lines of communication is very important.

"You don't have to have a joint account, but you want to talk about how you both are going to look at the money. You want to talk about that. ... How are you going to spend it? What are you going to do? You want to then negotiate how you're going to spend your money. If you know that music is really important to you, want to spend money on concert tickets, make sure you can do that, and that's built into it. Recognize how you feel about money. What's your relationship with it. How were you brought up with it? And lastly, ask for help. Get help if you can't come to any sort of agreement together. Seek professional financial counselors to help you build a budget. A therapist to deal with this issue because it is such a powerful issue."

Hill remarked, "A lot of times people in a relationship come from different backgrounds."

Hartstein added, "What you learn kind of indicates what you're going to do."

Hill asked, "Does it help if you each have a certain amount of money every month or every week that I don't have to account for, say, 'OK, so there's $100 a month that you can spend on anything, whether it's a pair of shoes or lattes I'm not going to ask.'"

Hartstein said, "A discretionary fund. If that's going to help, why not? If you're being honest, 'Here's your 100 bucks, do with it what you want with it.'"