The Secrets Couples Keep
Secrets You Must Spill continued...
As many couples find out too late, when you keep a secret that profoundly
affects your family, you face a double whammy when the secret eventually — or
inevitably — implodes: After the first shock wave from the hidden truth rips
through the family, you're hit with the secondary tremors that come from the
resulting feelings of betrayal and distrust. "My husband was running a
retail Website, and he assured me it was doing well," recalls Karen,* a
39-year-old mom of two. "I thought I could stay home with my children and
not have to worry about making money myself." A year ago, however, Karen
discovered that her husband's business was in the hole for more than $1
million, and he had taken out a line of credit against their house. The truth
came out only when he announced that he would have to take an additional job.
"I was furious!" Karen says. A year later, her family has begun
recovering from the financial blow — they've settled in a new town, and her
husband found a good job — but Karen is still dealing with her sense of hurt,
anger, and betrayal. "He says he didn't tell me about it because he thought
he could turn his business around, and he was just so embarrassed that he
couldn't support our family. But I couldn't believe he left me in the dark for
all those years," she says now.
When confronted with such a big, sudden revelation, it's natural to think,
Why didn't you tell me? I'm the one person on earth who is supposed to
understand! But the reasons men, in particular, keep secrets like these are
multilayered, say the experts. They may, like Karen's husband, want to keep up
an appearance of being strong and in control — out of fear that you'll stop
loving them if you see them in a different, vulnerable light. They may be loath
to deal with the turbulence they know their secret will unleash. And yes, some
men may just hope that silence will help them avoid a fight. "Men are wary
of women's emotional reactivity and usually shy away from conflicts," says
REDBOOK Love Network expert Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of
Happily Married Men. "They'll do anything to avoid making a woman
furious, though they usually end up making things worse."