Secrets? Maybe not …

Secret document © Richard Koele |

Aside from the good surprise kinds of secret, secrets have no place in a marriage. If your bride knows you’re keeping secrets it’s hurting your marriage. If she suspects you are keeping secrets that is hurting your marriage too. 

What qualifies as a secret? Pretty much anything you don’t share; even if it’s “no big deal”. In part, this is about communication and intimacy – she wants to know about you, about your world, about your thoughts, dreams, and fears. If you’re not sharing yourself in that way, it feels to her like you are keeping secrets.

Does that mean you have to share everything? Does it mean you need to give her every detail? Odds are she doesn’t care that much. Give her the highlights, then follow up if and where she shows interest.

Does not keeping secrets mean you should share things others tell you in confidence? That’s a decision you need to make for your marriage – and I’d suggest you discuss it with her. If your job puts you in contact with classified or private information, you will need to work within the bounds of the law and any confidentiality requirements. You also need to be honest with yourself about your bride’s ability to keep a confidence; if you share something with her, is there a chance it will go beyond her?

If you decide to share anything and everything, be sure to make that clear to those who might not expect it. Your friends need to know you are not going to keep their secrets from your bride. Personally, I think this is a good thing, and it can keep you from ending up in a bad spot.

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4 Comments on “Secrets? Maybe not …

  1. Hi Paul, I’ve recently begun journaling. My wife feels very put out by the fact that I would rather her not read my journal. We write and discuss on a very deep level every day and I’ve told her that I use the journal to help hash out my thoughts and I’m not hiding anything in there. Its just mostly half-baked stuff that I haven’t worked out yet. Should I be letting her read my journal?



    • @Bill – I can see both your point and her point.

      How would you feel about letting her read some older entries? Things you have had the time to work through. This would give her a feeling for what you write without messing with your ongoing thought process. If she saw that much of what you write makes it into conversations with her later, she might not only feel better, she might better understand how you think and process.

  2. I agree that generally speaking, keeping secrets are bad, especially when a spouse lies to keep the secret.  It’s one thing to lie by omission, but it’s another when there’s an outright lie to protect the secret.

    Some secrets are probably OK to keep — things that are work related, or confidences shared by others with you.

    But, it is incredibly dangerous and destructive to keep secrets about things that affect the marital relationship.  I’ve only recently learned that my wife lied to me when we were dating and throughout the first 15 years of our marriage about her sexual past. We’ve struggled with intimacy for years.  Come to find out, she had 5 sexual partners before me.  Her first sexual experience involved date rape by a boyfriend of 3 months, and her second boyfriend who was 23 when she was barely 19, was verbally and emotionally abusive, getting her to engage in sexual activities she did not desire, and was not ready to experience. 

    These lies have been incredibly damaging and destructive in our relationship.  We’ve been in counseling to work through these issues.

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