The Secrets Couples Keep
Shhh! Secrets That Won't Kill Him
Sure, as a rule, honesty is the best policy — we've been hearing it since
grade school and it's still true. But anyone who's been in a long-term
relationship knows that there is definitely some wiggle room when it comes to
keeping a few personal tidbits to yourself, provided they are harmless and
don't involve any outright lies. Maybe you earned a bonus or a little extra
cash on eBay and spent it all on a new leather jacket without telling him; or
he listens to Howard Stern on the radio on his way to work and doesn't tell
you. "Even when we're married, we still have private selves," says
Kirshenbaum. "It's healthy to have a sense that this is my personal
business and no one else's." In fact, keeping an innocent little part of
yourself off-limits can add some spark to your relationship — if he knew every
last detail about your life, then what fun revelations could there possibly be
in the future?
Some couples find that hanging a veil of secrecy over certain aspects of
their lives helps make their marriages run much more smoothly. "For the
first decade of our marriage, my husband and I fought over every purchase I
made, from a bag of cleaning supplies to a new coat," says Laurel, 36.
"Finally, I had this breakthrough — if he doesn't see a bill, he won't
think about it! So now I use cash when I shop. If I want to buy a pair of
shoes, and I can afford them, he doesn't have to know how much they cost.
Believe me, everyone in the house is a lot happier now."
This kind of "don't ask, don't tell" domestic policy can help
stabilize a relationship, says Hendrix, but consider this: "Some couples
have these types of collusions, where they don't check with each other on their
spending, and their marriage lasts 50 years," he observes. "But you're
keeping that stability at the cost of a completely open relationship." So
make sure you and your guy are on the same page — if you're both willing to
trade complete candor for a bit of ignorance-is-bliss harmony, then there's no
harm, and plenty of potential gain. But, Haltzman points out, this deal only
works when it goes both ways — don't harass him about the cost of his new
camera lens if you don't want him to ask you the price of that new handbag —
and when it doesn't involve an area you are working on together, like a budget.
"If your partner has expressed a desire to work cooperatively on something
and you're still keeping information from him, then you've crossed that
line," Haltzman says.