The Secrets Couples Keep
Secrets to Consider Spilling
If you're honest with yourself, then it's not too hard to figure out which
secrets fall into the "Red Light! Stop and Spill Everything" category.
But what about the ones — especially those transgressions from your distant
past — that belong in the murkier "Slow Down and Think Before You
Spill" zone? On the one hand, if some embarrassing episode from your
history is long past and has no impact on your life today, you can consider
keeping your lips sealed. "My husband works in law enforcement, and he's
totally on the straight and narrow, which is something I love about him,"
says Kimberly, 38. "I've never told him that I smoked pot a few times in
college because it's something I would never do again, I didn't even enjoy the
drug, and he's never asked me about it. Plus, the people who I partied with are
so far removed from my life now that they probably don't even remember me. So
why open a potential can of worms?"
And that brings up another important factor when weighing whether or not to
tell. Murphy's Law of love says that the less you want a secret to be revealed,
the more likely it is to suddenly spring up in your relationship like a
jack-in-the-box, shouting, "Gotcha!" So consider this: Are there any
pictures floating around on the Internet that might give you away? Any friends
who have a habit of telling your somewhat sordid old stories after a couple of
mojitos? How about an ex-lover who could potentially reappear? If there's any
way your partner might accidentally learn your secret, it's better that you do
the telling first. "Before we got married, my fiancé and I decided to tell
each other about all our past lovers," says Allison, 29. "To my
surprise, he admitted that he'd had sex a few times with a man before he
realized that he was definitely not into guys. I thought, Wow, he's willing to
be totally honest with me about everything, even on a topic most guys would
Coming clean about your sexual past is a worthy goal — but Kirshenbaum warns
that you must tread carefully. "You don't need to give the exact number of
previous lovers or endless details about what you did with them," she says.
"There's absolutely no point in filling your partner's head with mental
images that can't be deleted." Allison admits that on "insecure
days," the thought of her husband with another man sneaks its way back into
her mind: "We've been married for three years now, but there have been days
when I've asked him, ‘Have you ever thought of being with a guy again?' I once
even asked if he would consider hooking up with his boring, unattractive,
totally straight best friend! He gets upset that I would ever think he would
cheat on me with anyone." As Allison learned, even secrets that bring you
closer — and have nothing to do with the life that you're building together
today — can cause uncomfortable aftershocks.