I had gotten a new motorcycle about eight years ago and wanted to test it out on a curvy road close to our house. I went down the road to check for law enforcement people. No one there so I took off and all of a sudden, the flashing red light behind came on. I think the young officer was surprised to see this old guy take off his helmet and he was kind enough to simply give me a warning. Now, the problem for me was whether or not to tell my wife. Her husband had died from cancer a few years ago and I rationalized that I wouldn’t tell her because it would upset her to know that I was engaged in risky behaviors. Really when I thought about it, I didn’t initially tell her because I didn’t want a lecture. I told her and no lecture.
To have not told her would have been to put a brick in a wall between us. The more secrets, the more bricks. Over time, these bricks can form a wall that completely shuts the partner out. Couples don’t have to tell their partner everything, but if you are not telling your partner because they may be angry or afraid it will upset them, this is a problem. Small things can be bricks—keeping a secret when you’ve purchased something above and beyond your budget. Medium sized bricks could be giving money to children or grandchildren without the others’ knowledge. One of my clients was sending $500 a month to her sister who lived out of state without her husband knowing. Perhaps the biggest walls are related to sexual secrets—affairs, pornography, emotional relationships with others. My experience is the disclosure of sexual secrets is so hurtful to the other because they feel betrayed and essentially lied to.
Mentioned earlier, the ‘big 4’ in marriages, not in order, are: sex, money, in-laws, and children. Again, they are issues because they are a clash of values. Can you and your partner talk about these things or do they go underground in the form of secrets? Think twice or three times before keeping an important secret, even if it means discomfort or difficult conversations. Intimacy requires these difficult conversations. Avoiding these difficult conversations is the path to killing a relationship.
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