I worked with a couple whose marriage was filled with secrets.
From “little white lies” to more significant secrets, they didn’t feel the freedom to be completely honest with one another, and lived their lives trying to cover things up and hide things from one another. Eventually, their web of secrets caught up to them, and they found their marriage in a dark place, barely surviving and struggling to separate the truth from the lies.
As Christians, none of us would argue that the healthiest of marriages are those filled with honesty, authenticity, and transparency. When it comes to the important aspects of life, we would certainly all agree that there is no room in marriage for lies and deceit.
But many times the greatest enemy of honesty is not necessarily “dishonesty” like the couple mentioned above, but rather, a lack of communication. When it comes to day-to-day life in marriage, many people struggle to find the words, or more common yet, to find the time to commit to good communication and dialogue.
Yet in order to maintain an intimate relationship, making time to talk and be real with one another is crucial, because communication is the lifeline of a relationship. Even in the busier seasons of life, there are certain things that must ALWAYS make the cut when it comes to genuinely sharing your heart with one another.
Past Secrets: If you’ve been married for quite some time, yet find yourself still holding on to secrets from your past, I recommend you start here. As a professional counselor, I urge the couples I work with in pre-marital counseling to work through the “skeletons in their closet” long before they say I do. Sexual history, drugs/alcohol history, abuse history, family history, are all the kind of things you need to come to terms with in your own life, and then share them with your partner. Your past doesn’t define you, but it definitely shapes you, and you owe it to your partner to give them a glimpse of the things that have made you who you are today - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Sexual Secrets: Whether you have a habitual problem with sexual struggles, or whether it’s a once-in-awhile thing, the worst thing you can do for your marriage is keep it a secret. Because in the secret is where struggles become strongholds. The devil is a liar, and longs for you to stay quiet about your struggles with masturbation, adultery, pornography, lust, and sexual sins because it is in the silence that you will continue to struggle. I know people who have struggled with sexual sin for years upon years under the hopes that they could eventually get it “under control.” But healing can only happen when we bring our struggles into the light. If you’re married and find yourself struggling with an aspect of sexual sin, talk to your spouse, and then tell a trusted mentor, a counselor, and seasoned friend who can all work to support and love you through the nitty-gritty that comes with healing and freedom.
Financial Secrets: Do you have a habit of spending, and then hiding? Hiding receipts, bills, or even hiding purchases from your spouse? When it comes to finances in marriage, everything should always be out on the table. Financial dishonesty is one of the most common “secrets” in marriage, and causes stress that has been linked to a higher level of dissatisfaction in marriage as well as divorce. The bottom line is that marriage isn’t about my finances, or your finances, it’s about OUR finances. Learning to become “one” in all things means that there is no room for financial secrets. If finances have led to frequent arguments and conflict in your relationship, it’s time to take inventory of your spending habits as a couple, by inviting a professional counselor as well as a financial advisor into your situation so you can take back control and create an atmosphere of transparency in your marriage.
Health-Related Secrets: I’ve interacted with couples who tend to keep their health issues to themselves. Usually, it comes from a place of good intention, in that they are trying to “save” their spouse from the stress of worrying about their health. But the beauty of marriage is that it gives us the opportunity to love and support one another through times of sickness and times of health. As difficult as it is to potentially walk through illness or health-related problems, those times of difficulty offer an opportunity for intimate connection, companionship, and support from one spouse to another. Whether or not it’s important to you personally, be honest and upfront about your medical issues and concerns, and allow your spouse the opportunity to walk by your side.
Relationship Secrets: Even couples who have no problem being honest in the above categories, can sometimes find themselves struggling to share their true heart and feelings about their relationship. When it comes to your marriage, what are your relational needs and are they being met? Are you able to open up about your sexual desires, your emotional needs, and your goals and dreams? Can you share your opinions and ideas without the fear of feeling rejected or criticised? Can you talk about what you want, and on the flip side, listen to the things that your partner is longing for you to work on in the relationship?
No matter what your reasoning for avoiding communication about certain topics with your spouse, remember that even well-intentioned secrets are secrets that will eventually wreak havoc on your marriage. Dishonesty, or even simply a lack of communication will impact intimacy and connection with your partner. It’s never too late to start putting the time, effort, and courage it takes to be transparent with your spouse.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
Publication date: October 20, 2015