Little secrets run rampant with couples—you said you were working late when you were out at a bar with your friends after work or you said the shoes you just bought cost $80.00 when in fact they cost $280.00. While on the surface they may seem innocent enough, in the long run, keeping secrets in order to avoid confrontation, conflict, manipulation, or in some cases, potential divorce, wreaks havoc on the health and well-being of a marriage. And while these little white lies or omissions may appear to work in keeping the peace in the short run, in the long run, both spouses lose. Here’s why.
Keeping secrets indicate that there is a lack of trust, authenticity, and real intimacy in the marriage. When you feel compelled to hide certain behaviors, choices, and situations from your spouse, it reflects your lack of freedom to be who you truly are, weaknesses and all. Intimacy between spouses requires three things: 1) You are able to be who you are at all times; 2) You are able to freely express who you are, including your fears, struggles, and triumphs; and 3) You accept your spouse for who he or she is, not who you wish he or she were and vice versa. It is important to understand that you can still make requests for behavioral changes and negotiate how you want to live your life together while accepting someone or something as is. One does not exclude the other. In fact, accepting someone and something as is creates the space for creative and effective problem solving. The bottom line: Little secrets lead to less intimacy, effective problem solving, and trust.
Keeping secrets also indicates that one or both of you are conflict avoidant. Some people simply find it easier to hide a behavior or lie about it rather than dealing with the issue openly and honestly. Some people simply do not want to create a stir. It’s easier to work around the issue and keep the peace. It’s easier to avoid looking at yourself in the mirror. It’s easier to avoid looking at your spouse and dealing with your differences. The problem with this strategy is that in the process you lose your personal integrity and power. The moment you hide the bag of chips or the new purse you just bought at the department store, you have lost your personal power. It’s a big price to pay. And most people don’t even realize the repercussions until the marriage starts to disintegrate or their own depression and anxiety takes over. The fear of rejection and abandonment often wins over personal responsibility and growth. It is so important to manage these fears. Doing so results in a marriage that is based on two whole fully empowered individuals. The bottom line: Little secrets lead to loss of personal power and integrity.
Relationships (and marriage in particular) are designed to mirror what you need to see. They provide wonderful opportunities to heal, grow, and transform. They hold the key to unleashing your personal power and well-being. Don’t let those little secrets keep you from creating a healthy, intimate, and transformational relationship.
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com
Good one. Deceit deadens one’s own discernment to deception.
I have to say that although I basically agree with not lying and not witholding from your intimate relationship partner, it also depends upon who the partner is and how you expect they might respond. If you are a free spender married to a penny pincher, it can become exhausting to have to defend every purchase you make. It could be easier for both of you if you just keep the purchase quiet and at some later point tell your partner that you have had the item for a long time.
Not every person is in a strong enough state of mind to handle open conflict and to refute the attacks that may ensue. Yet they may be basically content in their relationship and feel so interconnected that they do not want to jeapardize what they have.
Being totally open and transparent works when both people have reached an adequate level of differentiation and a high enough level of self-esteem. But in some relationships, total transparency would be extremely difficult and painful.