Secrets Are Bad for Your Marriage -- Trust Me, I Know

privacy in marriageThere's a lot of talk about what you should and shouldn't do in front of your spouse -- and how much privacy to give each other in marriage. The truth is, the best marriages I know have very low expectations when it comes to all that.

If that seems counter to everything you've ever heard about "two becoming one in marriage," it is. But also, it isn't.

Two DO become one when they commit to spend the rest of their lives together. But no one is expecting two different people to blend into one another so completely that neither is a whole person anymore. The reality is, marriage is compromise and more than that, it's an endless exercise in truth-telling. If you can't be yourself in front of your spouse -- the one you live with and see day in and day out, the one who sees sides of you no one else ever will -- then who can you be yourself with? 


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Sharing Passwords

For some, cheating might be intercourse with another woman. For others, it might be chatting with an old girlfriend. For me, and in my marriage, it's hiding things from each another, period. That means that everything from his chat with his old girlfriend to my flirtation with the guy at the grocery store is on the table. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Even so, some things ARE private. We don't share email or Facebook accounts, for instance -- or passwords. I don't even know how to get into his email (and wouldn't dream of doing so), and his work computer is his own. And I am 100 percent sure he has never read my texts or even considered looking at my emails.

Could I if I wanted to? Sure. Early in our relationship, more than 13 years ago, my husband did some things that made me not trust him -- and so for the first year or so we were together, I was on him like a hawk. It was awful. For both of us.

I checked his messages constantly, made him tell me all the women he was friends with, wouldn't let him have female friends, and made him dispose of every photo of past girlfriends.

In retrospect, I was a psycho. It's a wonder we stayed together.

As the years have gone by and he has proven that those early days were an anomaly rather than a reflection of his true self, my trust has grown. And my need to check up on him has gone down.

It's a Matter of Trust

Sure, we all have moments of doubt. We SHOULD remember that our spouses are valuable and that other women (or men) might find them attractive. It keeps us in check. But we also need to trust their commitment and love. If we don't have trust, we really have nothing at all.

My husband would never cheat on me. So why do I need to read his email? Marriages can't last without trust, and privacy is an offshoot of that.

When I think of the messages I send to my best friend every day, there is nothing in them that I wouldn't tell my husband too. But I might do it in a different way.

I might spare his feelings or say it less bluntly to his face. If he were reading my emails, he might be hurt by things he has no reason to be hurt by.

When two people come together in a union of love, it is beautiful and emotional, and all wonderful things. But it's not the end of their individuality. Nor should it be.

I remember about 10 years ago, I had been married a year and a close friend had been married two. She said: "It's normal to have some secrets from your spouse." A statement. A fact.

Secrets Are Bad for Your Marriage

But you know what? It isn't a fact. I know what she meant, but secrets -- especially important ones -- hurt each other and your marriage, just like the old children's rhyme promised: "secrets, secrets are no fun, secrets, secrets hurt someone." But privacy? That's something different. That's you feeling free to express yourself to your friend without fear of anger. That's going to the bathroom without worrying whether your husband will want to sleep with you later.

Yes, we all need privacy. It's as true for married folk as it is for singles.

He gets my heart, body, soul, and mind every day. But not my need for alone time or my email password. Those are things I'm keeping as my own.

Do you and your spouse have different privacy needs -- and how do you handle that?


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