National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Don’t Hide Your Debt

When, if ever, is hiding financial problems from your spouse the right thing to do? Phil Lenahan has the answer.

BY Phil Lenahan

June 3-9, 2007 Issue | Posted 5/29/07 at 10:00 AM


I know being honest is important, but sometimes it’s easier to not say anything at all, or even shade the truth a little bit, rather than let my wife know about some of our financial problems.  Any thoughts?

I’ve always enjoyed the “Family Circus” comic strip. In an often repeated theme, one of the kids does something wrong. When mom or dad asks who’s responsible for the mess, the refrain from all of them is “Not me!” This provides a lighthearted laugh, one all parents can identify with. But there is an important message here. Honesty is one of the most important virtues described in Scripture.

It’s so important because it has to do with both the nature of God and the nature of Satan. The Church teaches that God “is the truth and wills the truth” (Catechism, No. 2464). Contrast this with the Gospel of John 8:44, where Satan is described as having “nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Honesty is necessary for a marriage to function properly. In fact, it’s an imperative for the whole of society. The Catechism reminds us that “Men could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another” (No. 2469).

In my line of work, I come across many people who have a hard time facing the truth about their finances. Often the reticence has to do with high credit card debt. Folks hope that, somehow, by just not talking about the problem, it will go away. But in reality, most of the time, the opposite occurs. When we fail to face problems squarely, we tend to only make things worse.

If husbands and wives want to have the unity in their marriage that the Lord calls them to (Genesis 2:24), it’s important for the lines of communication to be open and for both of them to be honest with one another.

One idea to help foster such communication is to have periodic meetings on the family budget. These offer a great way for husbands and wives to take time together to look at their big financial picture and avoid holding on to financial secrets. Of course, you need a plan to talk about during such a meeting. Download a free copy of “My Veritas Plan” at veritas and start developing your financial plan today. Then start holding your regular family-budget meetings. God love you!

Phil Lenahan is president of Veritas Financial Ministries

and author of 7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free.