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Confess or Suppress: When is it okay to keep a secret?

Is it ever okay to keep a secret in your relationship? Just as the age old adage goes some things are better left unsaid,. This holds enormous truth to relationships. As perfect couple you’d never have to worry if he were keeping anything from you, because his life, too, would be an open book.

But we live in the real world, where even the healthiest couples sometimes hide things from each other. To most of us, the secret to end all secrets  is an affair. No one can argue with the devastating consequences of infidelity. As a Professional Matchmaker, I hear many stories of deception and lies that lead to tremendous tragedy.

Even “small” deceptions can rock a relationship and it can be hard to draw the line between what’s harmless and what’s not.

“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”

― Oscar Wilde

Having said that, confessing every single thing about your history, romantic or otherwise, doesn’t automatically make you two a better couple. Intimacy and complete openness are not one and the same. A successful long-term relationship means being willing to share your vulnerabilities and strengths. It requires sensitivity to the consequences that sharing brings.

In truth, the happiest couples share values that are based on strong emotional and physical connections.  There are many couples that don’t “tell all,” yet maintain a trusting, fulfilling relationship. Likewise, there are some couples that suffer a great deal when well-kept secrets (or ultimately revealed ones) lead to mistrust and hurt.

As a matter of fact, although it is necessary to be open, hiding a few things actually helps.

Protecting your spouse from the truth, allowing your spouse to have their illusions, is often the more loving choice. This is precisely the reason why certain mature people choose not to reveal everything to their partners. If you are not sure whether to tell or not to tell ask yourself the following questions:

• What is the purpose of telling him/her?
• Will it affect the relationship?
• How does it hinder the relationship?
• If it does not help the relationship, why would he/she want to know?

Once your partner has knowledge of certain aspects of your past, they may subconsciously hold it against you.

When you still are struggling with whether to reveal a secret or not, here are the primary areas that should not be kept a secret:

• Money

Even if the money you are spending is money you earned through the work you do, there is a serious problem if you feel the need to keep your expenses a secret.

• Unprocessed childhood pain

I know that sharing every detail of your childhood may be difficult and unnecessary, However, if something happened to you years ago and the pain from it is still impacting your life in a meaningful way, your spouse needs to know that.

• Friendships

 Whether it’s with the same sex or the opposite sex, there is something strange going on if that friendship needs to be a secret. Examine why you are truly keeping it a private and you are sure to reveal something with your marriage that needs to be addressed.

• Your vision for your life

 Nothing hurts a marriage more than dying dreams and feelings of resentment. Keeping your personal vision a secret will hurt in the long run.

• What you do with your spare time

If your husband thinks you are out shopping with your girls, you shouldn’t really be at a bar drinking by yourself. Or if your wife believes you went to a football game with the boys, you shouldn’t really be at the casino gambling away your check. When you hide your whereabouts, there are deeper personal and marital issues you need to work through.