How truthful and transparent should I be with my spouse? After all, we are supposed to be best friends right? But am I not still entitled to a measure of privacy in my life? What’s the difference between privacy and secrecy? Privacy is about having healthy boundaries in my life. For example, over forty years of marriage we have maintained a mutual respect for one another’s secret place with God. We have always partnered together to bless one another with “alone time.” I make it a point to not intrude when Anne is having a private session with God and she has give me the same consideration.
Secrecy on the other hand, would be our keeping information hidden from one another for fear of the impact it would have. It’s not always black and white to be sure, but keeping secrets from your spouse, in my opinion is not a recommended marital practice.
Trust & Integrity
The primary problem with keeping secrets from your spouse is the undermining of trust. Being honest and emotionally vulnerable ensures personal and relationship integrity. I love this insight from psychologist Robert Weiss: Sometimes people think they’ve only violated their integrity if they flat-out lie. Secrets, however, are lies of omission, and they’re just as damaging to relationships and personal integrity as those we say out loud.
One of the pieces of spiritual armor listed in Ephesians, chapter six, is the belt of truth. It’s not merely having the correct creed or doctrine, as important as those are, but it refers to the condition of your private life. Wearing the belt of truth represents an inner life that is properly relating to God. It’s about integrity, having a pure heart before God, and being honest with yourself and those in your inner circle, spouse first and foremost. A godly transparency serves as an immunity against toxic secrecy.
Should a Husband Share Every Struggle & Temptation?
Perhaps the most common private struggle for men is in the area of lust. Should a man tell his wife every time he encounters temptation? If they go out to dinner and he finds the waitress attractive, should he share that information? I don’t think it’s feasible or wise to voice every temptation the enemy seeks to throw in front of me. The dark side doesn’t deserve that much air time. Other end of the spectrum – if it’s a serious problem in your life (i.e. you keep thinking of that waitress for days) then confess it to your wife and get help from your pastor. There are many excellent resources to assist men in staying pure.
What if a husband finds his wife’s sister very attractive, but clearly has no intention of ever responding to the temptation because he loves and respects his wife. This man might consider his attraction to his sister-in-law a private matter. His wife, however, if she knew what was going on in his mind, might consider it a secret.
Should a Wife Share Every Anxiety?
A common struggle for women is one of security. Wives need their husbands to be a covering, to be cared and provided for. If you’re feeling anxious about the financial provision for your home, should you voice it to your husband every time you feel it? I would guess not, because we guys know what we need to do and we’re trying our best. So naturally, you pray about it but there may be times when the anxiety overwhelms you and it begins to manifest. You might be irritable with hubby or the children and at the root of it is the worry. It’s no longer a private matter so perhaps the time has come to confess it to your husband.
What if a wife finds her husband’s brother attractive as a man because he takes time to engage her in meaningful conversation. On top of that, he can also do home remodeling a thousand times better than you? Do you want your wife to share her private thoughts every time she may be tempted to compare you with your brother? Or should she keep it private, resolving it within her own heart?
What About Secrets From the Past?
The majority of our past (memories that reek of decay) is not to be shared with our spouse nor remembered in our own history. These have gone out with the tide of living water that has washed our souls. I like this guideline from author Joe Beam: Only if the three following conditions are satisfied is it okay not to tell: 1) you are confident that what happened does not stand as a barrier to intimacy in your marriage, 2) it would harm, rather than benefit your spouse to know, and 3) you tell no lie to your spouse. Even if the first two criteria are met and your spouse asks…always tell the truth.
I love this quote from marriage author Dave Willis: “A painful truth is always better than a hidden lie.”
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