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Would you keep it a secret if you won the lottery?

Greg Devine


Balls of the lottery against abstract grey background

As mentioned in this article, I like to listen to Capital Breakfast and Kemp’s Court on my Tuesday morning commutes. Today’s problem, sent in by a young female listener, concerned whether she should tell her partner that she’d won around £50,000 on a scratch card.

My first thought was that this was a no-brainer—of course she should tell her partner! Surely it would be something they could celebrate, some good news during tough times, but she disagreed. Apparently, her partner is particularly poor with money. She was concerned he would waste the winnings on poor investments when it could be used as a deposit for a new house. At that point, I agreed with her.

£50,000 is a lot of money; for a lot of people, it’s two years’ wage. The fact she wanted to be smart with her winnings and invest in a house together, I felt, showed a discrepancy in the couple’s maturity levels. They’d been together for three years, though it wasn’t made clear if they already lived together. In my opinion, after three years, a relationship is a serious one. A large chunk of money like that would be best spent on a house if they were already thinking of co-habiting and possibly spending their lives together.

Sure, a new German car would look great on the driveway, but would this be better than a nice house? I think not. It’s worth pointing out that the couple weren’t married; one of the presenters pointed out that it was, legally, her money, and therefore, she was allowed to do whatever she so pleased with it. I agree with this, married or not (though I do think it would be natural to tell your partner if you were married).

Marriage really shouldn’t make a difference to the argument. I personally believe she should be able to tell her partner anything, without any reservations. It does make you wonder, though…if she has these concerns, is the relationship a good one? I’m certainly no expert when it comes to this—I appreciate that I’m young and inexperienced—but maybe this proves my point. Surely trust is one of the most important factors in a relationship?

Truth and trust concept. Text on wooden blocks.

Truth and trust concept. Text on wooden blocks.

I think the value of her winnings makes a difference, too. Had she won millions of pounds on the lottery, I don’t think there’s much to debate—how would she keep that a secret anyway? In this scenario, they could buy the house of their dreams and still be able to spend money on luxury cars or fancy holidays, and still have plenty left over.

Listeners were split. A poll on Twitter showed that only a few people felt she shouldn’t tell her partner. One listener commented, ‘She can tell him cause he will either find out or start questioning when she starts buying things. This doesn't mean she gives it to him. It's not his and should stay in her account.’ They have a point. She shouldn’t feel that she can’t tell him; but even when she does, it’s not his money.

In our office most of us said we wouldn’t hesitate to tell our partner should we be lucky enough to find ourselves in this same situation. But, just because you tell your partner, it doesn’t mean it becomes their money; it’s still up to the winner what they do with it. One colleague said they’d split the winnings 50/50, because that’s just what they’ve always done and how their relationship works. I fully understand that—if your relationship is built on sharing and equal benefit, there’s no reason to think this wouldn’t be the case in this scenario.

Ultimately, I’m struggling to come to a conclusion. I still think telling your partner is the right thing to do, but this might not be as straightforward as it sounds. The question becomes more about trust—and if there’s no trust in a relationship, is there a relationship at all?

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