Should You Be Able to Keep a Secret From Your Spouse?

Is there a right to privacy in marriage?

Couple lying on sofa, indoors
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Being honest with your spouse does not necessarily mean you must share every single thought, dream, fear, or fantasy with this person. In face, honesty may be a double-edged sword in your marriage. Knowing what to share and what not to share is an important communication skill for couples to learn and use in their marriage. It may also be something that can help or hinder peace and harmony with your spouse.

Keeping Secrets and the Right to Privacy

You have the right to privacy in any relationship, including in marriage, family, or group. In any relationship, you have the right to keep a part of your life secret, no matter how trivial or how important, for the sole reason that you want to do so. You also have the right to spend some time alone and with only yourself. 

It is healthy and wise to honor the sense of emotional and physical privacy needed for yourself and your spouse. Otherwise, ironically, you end up limiting your intimacy with one another, not enhancing it. You can't be truly intimate with your mate without being in touch with the innermost parts of yourself too.

Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?

There are valid reasons for keeping a secret from your spouse. You shouldn't have to defend not revealing embarrassing or hurtful moments from your past. It is possible that the secret involves someone else who asked that the story not be told.

There are many couples who have been married for a long time who have personal secrets that they haven't shared with their spouses. The sense of space and the sense of a private part of oneself is important to many individuals. 

Knowing When to Share a Secret 

If you have a secret that you think you should share, but you are unsure about doing so, look at your own physical responses when you are hiding the secret.

If your blood pressure increases, or you find yourself blinking a lot faster, or your breathing is heavier, or you are perspiring more, then these could be clues that you should share that particular secret.

If you are keeping a secret because you don't want to face a responsibility in your marriage, this can create problems. Withholding facts or information your spouse needs to know in decision making is harmful manipulation.

Secrets that can hurt your marriage are ones concerning:

  • job problems
  • not paying bills
  • lending money
  • not revealing an illness
  • seeing family and friends secretly
  • lying about how you spend money
  • keeping an addiction or substance abuse habits hidden
  • legal problems
  • having an affair

When to Stay Quiet About a Secret

If you are going to share a secret or difficult issue with your spouse, realize that the following times are not a good time to reveal this:

  • At bedtime.
  • If either of you is drunk.
  • When either of you are in a stressful situation.
  • During periods of grumpiness.
  • When you or your spouse are angry.
  • When either of you are tired or ill.
  • When your spouse is already dealing with bad news.

 

Seeking Help

Honesty and trust are vital to the success of a marriage. It's a thin line between what secrets are acceptable and which ones will haunt an individual and hurt a marriage.

If you begin to feel the distance in your marriage and think it may be the result of a secret, then it is time to consult a professional counselor. 

A partner who discovers he or she has been directly lied to, given a half-truth or not told critical information can feel an enormous sense of betrayal. These betrayals can be hard to come back from and your partner may never feel a full sense of trust again.

If you think this situation applies to you, the sooner you face it the better too! 

*Article Updated by Marni Feuerman