Is it okay to have secrets in a relationship? Do you have to tell each other everything?
There is something powerful about secrets. A power that can be dangerous. The worst parts of us fester in secrecy. They burrow a little hole in our souls and tell us we have to hide. That we are not okay. We are failures. Sinners. Ugly and disgusting. And they tell us those lies to keep us from exposing them. When our faults are exposed, they are given the chance to heal and be corrected through accountability. In secrecy, they grow and linger.
On the other hand, there is a part of each of us that is truly unique. It is hard to understand, let alone communicate, the depths of what makes up all of our thoughts, emotions, and ideas. There is so much, and we cannot possibly communicate it all.
One of the things we have learned in our few years of marriage is that our relationship is not exactly the same and does not have to play by the exact same rules as other healthy marriages.
For example, a lot of couples have a deal where they tell each other everything. If you tell the husband a story, you assume the wife will hear it too. We don’t have that. We have a deal where we do not intentionally keep something (anything) from one another IF asked. We talk to a lot of people about a lot of confidential things. If the other partner wants to know, we tell. But we are constantly asking ourselves “why do I really want to know? Is it necessary”. It often isn’t.
The point here is that secrets in a marriage can be okay. The key is communication, an agreement on the way your unique relationship needs to operate.
The essential question is this: why am I in relationship with this person? What are we hoping to be together? Sinful secrets often divide us. They set us up to be subtly combative entities of mistrust.
Secrets can tear us apart. They can also, ironically, bring us together.
The definition of boundaries is setting the marker for where you end and another person begins. The only kinds of secrets appropriate in a marriage are positive ones that are uniquely about one partner’s identity while at the same time not affecting the other partner or the relationship’s unity. These instances are rare. Very, very rare.
Sometimes I think things I don’t tell my wife. It is not because I am trying to protect myself or her from a challenge. It is because I am processing how I think or how I feel. Sometimes I write stories I never show her or tell her about. It is a way of doing something I love just for me. I also show her most of my stories (or tell her about them). I tell her my thoughts as honestly as I can without dragging her through the whole process.
It is important to have both goals and boundaries in your marriage. Celebrating the power of your individuality as a way to equip you to love within a relationship is not the same as lying to your partner to try to protect yourself from embarrassment or shame.