Private vs. Secret
Among the many concepts couples do well to agree on are two--private and secret. It's pretty clear that relationships suffer tremendously when partners keep secrets from each other. Secrets engender anxiety and mistrust. They introduce a corrosive element that often results in the death of the relationship--if not literally then at least emotionally. Many relationship experts contend that the corrosive quality of secrets can even be transmitted through several generations with children unconsciously carrying the weight of secrets their parents have kept.
By the same token, it is also true that everyone deserves their privacy. Of course, people have varying needs for privacy. One person may have very little need and, as a result, is not offended when his/her partner goes into a wallet or purse without permission looking for lunch money for their child. Another, however, might well hold a wallet or purse as private territory to be entered only with permission. It's not that they are hiding anything. It's just that their privacy needs to be acknowledged and not breached without permission.
Keeping secrets and invading privacy have the potential to seriously damage a relationship. Both diminish the sense of safety necessary for intimacy to flourish. When either of these issues comes up, it's important to recognize the complexity of the situation, tread carefully and respond respectfully. These can be volatile but productive occasions.
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Jake Thiessen, PhD
I've been working with couples for a very long time. And, I love it! This blog is my attempt to communicate some of the things I've learned over the past 40 years.