Keeping secrets in a relationship is toxic

Thursday April 4 2019

As you grow into adulthood, keeping secrets and

As you grow into adulthood, keeping secrets and covering what should be exposed, creates more havoc though you may have good intentions of not hurting anyone. COURTESY PHOTO 

By Dorcus murungi

When your relationship is not anchored on trust, it will breakdown. Dishonesty leads to fear and insecurity, limiting your marriage’s potential. This dishonesty creates distance and can ultimately disentangle your marriage. Are there any secrets you are keeping from your partner?

Ali Male, a relationship counsellor at YMCA, says although it is human to keep secrets, in a relationship, there are some issues that partners need to discuss honestly if their marriage is to last. Today, we highlight some of the secrets that partners should not keep to themselves.

Mental health struggles
Paul Mubiru, a relationship counsellor, says it is a common practice for partners to keep their health struggles, especially mental health issues, a secret. However, he says: “If you have past mental health struggles, you never know when they might crop up again, your partner should know to be on the lookout for any warning signs,” he says.

He explains that disclosing your health history to your partner may seem small depending on the magnitude of your condition, but such an issue can be problematic and may show up again in your family line.

Inability to have children
Mubiru says some people enter into relationships well knowing that they cannot give birth but they keep this to themselves. He says though the decision to have children (or not) can be an emotionally nervous one, if you know that you are medically unable to conceive, you have got to be upfront about it. He says keeping this information to yourself simply is not fair to your partner.

Being indebted
According to Male, regardless of how much you owe, if you are living with your partner or you have combined finances, they need to know how much you owe.

“Do not keep your debt a secret. Disclose it early in a relationship and do not make excuses and be as honest as possible,” he advises, adding that if the debt turns out to be a deal-breaker for your partner, it is much better to know that upfront, before you are both devoted to the relationship.

Male says financial dishonesty is one of the most common secrets in marriage and is often linked to higher levels of dissatisfaction in marriage as well as divorce.
“If you or your partner had financial issues before your marriage, those financial woes will carry into your marriage. If you desire financial security and well-being, it is important that you are completely honest with your spouse about your financial past,” he adds.

Children from past relationships
Mubiru explains that there is nothing as bad as hiding a child or children that you had with a past partner because this might affect the children as time goes on.

“Your children want you as a mother or father and it may not go well to deny them your love and above all the assurance that you are their biological parent,” he notes.

Hidden feelings
Are you carrying baggage, resentment or anger towards your spouse? If so, it is important that you tell them so that a solution is found.
Male says when we hide these feelings; negative emotions begin to crop up.

It is important that you are forthright about any issues you have had with addiction. Mubiru says these include drug dependencies, gambling, sexual obsessions and alcohol abuse, among others. “Addiction is not only devastating to the addicted party, but to the loved ones as well. If it is not dealt with, it can lead you down a road of destruction and tear the entire family apart,” he says.

The most important thing to remember while keeping secrets in a relationship is – how long do you want to be with your partner? If you are willing to have a long-term relationship, you have got to come out of your shell sometime.

No complete secret
Your partner will find out about your secret from someone else, probably in a distorted version. What would hurt your partner more than your lies is the fact that they were made aware of it by someone else. It would imply that you think of them as less mature to handle whatever it is that you hid. Also, it will embarrass them that strangers know you better than them. There is no coming back from this situation. So if you are aware that a third person has critical information that might ruin your relationship, tell your partner.

Why secrets can ruin relationships

One of the great concerns in many romantic relationships involves secrecy vs. privacy. One partner thinks that he or she deserves a bit of privacy; the other views this desire as secrecy. Which is which? How can we know the difference between the two? And how should we navigate between these two extremes?

It is best defined as the state or condition of being free from observation and disturbance by other people. For instance, when you leave a public event and return to the privacy of your own home, the person who sat next to you at the public event can no longer stare at, talk to, or otherwise annoy you. In general, keeping certain things private involves setting and maintaining boundaries that align with your individual needs, values, and beliefs. When your privacy is violated you might feel angry, and rightfully so, with a desire to pull away from whoever spoiled your privacy.

Is the active state of intentionally keeping information hidden from one or more people. In general, beyond professional requirements for confidentiality, if you keep something secret it is because you fear the impact (on yourself or others) that the information might have if it were openly known. What often underlies secrecy is a fear of judgment and/or reprisal. When your secrecy is violated, you may feel as if you have lost control over the information and how others respond to it. Thus, you might feel afraid, anxious, concerned, and angry, and want to pull away.

Using the above definitions, the difference between privacy and secrecy seems relatively clear, but this is not always the case: Consider, for instance, a husband who finds his wife’s sister very attractive, though he has no intention of ever acting on that attraction because he loves and respects his wife.

This man might consider his attraction to his sister-in-law private. His wife, however, might consider it a secret. As an outside observer, it is hard to say that one belief is more accurate than the other.

Why the distinction is important
There is a huge difference between privacy and secrecy in terms of the degree to which hidden information can impact an intimate relationship if or when that information is made known.

If a husband surreptitiously reads his wife’s Cosmopolitan when he’s sitting on the toilet and feels a little embarrassed because he enjoys a magazine aimed at women, he might keep this fact hidden. And if his wife finds out about it, their relationship will probably not be impacted in any sort of lasting way—other than her teasing or his new openness to weigh in on her fashion choices. This is an example of privacy. However, if that same man were to get pleasure by looking at his wife’s Cosmopolitan, he might seek to keep that fact hidden, too. If his wife were to find out, she might well get angry about it or feel less attractive. But she might also laugh about it, if she finds his behaviour amusing. Either way, the fact that he’s not telling her because she might feel angry or hurt makes this an example of secrecy.