By Marli Naidoo
When we’re looking for a life partner we think in terms of a best friend. You want to share your life with a person you can tell everything, who will not judge you but will support you. However, if you feel that you should withhold information from this friend, you will probably realise that you are not really best friends.
When you are in a serious relationship or marriage, it usually becomes much more complicated role-play than what you would find in even the best friendship. There is money, intimacy, children, value systems and many other factors that make up part of an everyday relationship. It becomes more difficult to share everything with each other.
What is keeping spouses from being absolutely honest with each other? Often it is a case of self-protection. If you’ve been conditioned by previous relationships that it is not safe to share your innermost secrets and emotions with your loved one, you will not feel safe enough to share everything with him or her. He may himself also not be the best sound board and overreact when you want to be honest with him. A touchy lover is one who also prevents his wife from being open and honest with him.
This lack of openness has a suffocating effect on the intimacy in a marriage.
In cases where a person is married to a spouse who is never judgmental, openness can still be a problem when the other marriage partner is not willing to show weakness. She probably does not want to disappoint or hurt her wonderful husband with the truth, or want to be seen as perfect. Once again this is a form of self-protection.
True intimacy an only be achieved when we stop withdrawing ourselves from our loved ones and are prepared to share all our weaknesses and fears. We must stop trying to take control of what our love ones think and feel and how they are going to react, and learn to trust them.
However, is it necessary to share each particle of detail? There is a difference between privacy and secrecy. Privacy is a condition where you are free from being observed and interfered with by other people. When you keep certain things private, it means that you lay down and maintain personal boundaries that are in keeping with your individual values, needs and beliefs. When your privacy is violated, you will get angry and want to remove yourself from the person who has spoiled your privacy.
Secrecy is the active and intentional withholding of information from one or more individuals. The most common reason for secrecy is that you are afraid of the impact the information can have if it is shared openly. There is also a regular fear of judgment and revenge. If your secrecy is violated you feel out of control of the information and how other people are going to react to it. You probably feel scared, anxious, angry and want to withdraw from the situation.
Privacy is good. You do not have to share the secret codes of your social-media pages with your spouse. Neither do you have to tell your loved one that you have noticed that she has more pleats. This will not strengthen the marriage but only make her more self-conscious. You do not have to share each and every thought with her.
Secrecy , however, is not good for trust and intimacy. The best is not to put yourself in a position that will create information that you will want to withhold from your loved one. If there are secrets that you have to share, it is probably going to be difficult and trust will have to be rebuilt.
When a couple begin to be open and honest with each other, it must be done with love and tenderness. It is also important not to be touchy and to realise that neither of you are or ever will be perfect.
Honest and open marriages survive longer than marriages full of secrecy and self-protection. The wonderful intimacy and closeness in such a relationship is deep and fulfilling.