Trust and honesty are essential for a successful marriage. If you are not honest to your spouse, you’ll find it hard to trust him. You process the idea that if you can lie to him, why can’t he? If you’ve been caught cheating even just once, it’s extremely difficult for your spouse to trust you again completely no matter how much you try. Trust and honesty are strongly and positively correlated with each other.
But talking about honesty, how much information do you have to share with your spouse in order to be honest and to have a happy marriage?
Here are five things you can assess if you rather keep to yourself or confide to your spouse:
1. Discreet Vs. Deceit
Most of us have past relationships and experiences that contribute to what we are now. You may have had several boyfriends and sexual experiences before your marriage. Are you compelled to tell them to your husband? If you do, would you and your husband feel comfortable after the revelation? Do you think it would strengthen or would potentially harm your relationship?
You are entitled to your own privacy. Everyone does. You have the right to keep some dark secrets all to yourself. You made mistakes in the past, you learned, you moved on. You have the right to be discreet with your past sexual explorations if that’s to protect your current relationship or marriage.
However, in some cases, especially early in a relationship, it’s helpful to know and consider the orientation and preferences of your partner before things become more serious. Does he prefer a virgin woman over someone with experience? Is virginity important in his culture or religion?
Deceit is when you pretend to be someone you’re not. Perhaps you lead your spouse to believe that you’re a complete innocent damsel but then one day he discovers that you’re not. Deceit can also mean as literally as secretly having sex outside marriage.
Would you rather be discreet about your adventurous past?
2. You feel attracted to someone else, but you’re married. Should you tell your spouse?
Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t be attracted to someone else. That’s perfectly normal. However, how you respond to that attraction is what affects your relationship.
If you’re a Christian, you must be aware that merely thinking lustfully of a woman who’s not your wife is a sin. By doing so, you already commit adultery (Bible, Matt 5:28-29). It’s even worse if you have sex and illicit affair with her.
But what if yours is simply plain attraction and you don’t have plans to cheat on your wife, would you rather tell her about it or be silent with it? I believe that you better weigh the pros and cons of your confiding. Are you capable of ignoring and forgetting the attraction all by yourself? Or do need your spouse’s help?
Personally, if my husband finds himself attracted to another woman, and if the attraction is something he can handle by himself without committing sins against me and God, I would prefer him to keep it to himself. Why? Because knowing that he sees someone as more beautiful or smarter than me doesn’t make me feel good in anyway. While my head tells me that things like this are normal, that doesn’t stop my heart from feeling jealous, hurt and betrayed. A loving heart, no matter how good, feels jealous and possessive when threatened. I don’t want to spend the next two weeks mulling about this “other woman” and hurting my self-esteem.
However, if my husband feels that his attraction to someone else is caused by our long distance relationship and my unavailability for him whenever he feels the urged, or if it’s fueled by some serious malfunction in our relationship and he needs me to help him fix it, then I’d understand his need to tell me. He needs me to help him overcome his attraction with someone else by working on our relationship for the better. Who knows, perhaps the solution is as simple as me getting a new hair style.
What about you? Would you rather he tells you about his attraction with someone else?
3. How much of your family’s dirty linen would you share to your spouse?
After marriage, you learn more about your spouse. You also learn more about each other’s family. Some facts about your family are given and cannot be kept secret; e.g. your parents are divorced or that they have serious problems with money management. Some things will simply unfold to your spouse over time even if you try to hide them.
But what about some dark secrets about your family which telling your spouse would cost his respect for them? Would you tell him that your mom once had an affair but that your dad never found out?
How about if you find out that your husband keeps some family facts and affairs from you maybe because his mom advised him to or because he wants to protect his family’s image, would you take it against him? Would you see it as lack of trust?
Do tell me about your thoughts. How much information are you willing to share with your spouse?