secrets, telling your spouse a secretIt’s a dilemma that pops up on occasion, so I was thinking…

When a friend tells you a secret – I mean a big juicy secret that makes your eyes pop out of your head and your jaw fall to the floor, the question is: do you tell your spouse?  I mean, your friend preceded  the unveiling of this monster news with the desperate pleas of anyone spilling their guts in this way.  “If I tell you something, do you promise you will not tell anyone?  Do you swear?  I mean it.  Really.  So -and -so will kill me if she knows I told you. ”  So of course, you agree.  You would agree to almost anything at this point because you are so hungry for the dirt.  “Yes. Of course.  You know me.  I have never told anyone in the past.  We have been so close for years.  Now…what is it????” you beg expectantly, leaning in from the edge of your seat.  You can barely stand the suspense.  Then finally, she unloads.  And she does not disappoint.  It is a doozey.  “Wow,” you exclaim in awe.  “Wow…”

And then,  the dilemma.  Do you tell your spouse?  Is telling your spouse considered “telling someone”?  Is your spouse “someone”?  Or is your spouse just an extension of yourself, and therefore telling him is not considered actually telling another person?  And here’s the other thing:  does the secret sharer assume  you are going to tell your spouse, like you are a package deal?  Would she have told her spouse?  And if you ask her if it is OK to share, what if she says no?  What if she now freaks out and regrets ever spilling the beans?   Will you be worried now that she will no longer seek you out for the next one?

And does the subject matter have any bearing?  If it is a whopping juicy story of infidelity or wild sex, it may be fair to assume that no one could resist hearing about it.  But if the secret is about someone’s kids, or their job, or their health, does sharing it with your mate seem less compelling.  Heck, I don’t even know if some husbands would care about some of that stuff.

There is the flip side of this conversation, too.  If you found out your husband knew a secret and had kept it from you, how would you feel?  Betrayed?  Upset?  Or understanding?   Lots of questions around this thorny issue, and not many answers.

To see if any experts had weighed in,  I searched online.  While there are a slew of articles and links about spouses sharing their own secrets, such as affairs and money woes,  very little exists on how spouses should handle this dicey situation. I did find one expert who believes that the confidentiality that exists between friends does extend to spouses, and you should not tell.  This expert maintains that every time a secret is told, it loses some of its exclusive powers, like a game of telephone, only the news does not get garbled, just less likely to remain a secret.  Another relationship specialist agrees, and advises even that righteous camp, you know, the ones that crow about how “my spouse and I tell each other everything” to hold the line on other person’s secrets.  Beware pouring your heart out to these friends, however.  These spouses are two-for-the-price-of-one.

With guidance so limited, however, I fear we are relegated to come to our own conclusions.  I know how I play it in my marriage.  You?

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