The line between harmless and hurtful can get a little bit blurry when it comes to keeping secrets. While your relationship should be built on trust it’s also important to remember that you both are individuals with your own personalities and histories. So where’s the line on what needs to be told?
Anything that is going to impact your relationship (now or later) needs to be discussed. Keep in mind, impact can mean big or small. As hard as this may be, it’s always better to be told the truth instead of finding out through a friend, a photo, a text, or some paperwork left out on the counter. If you feel uncomfortable hiding something from your partner, then listen up! That’s your conscious telling you to tell the truth. If you feel that it’s not hurting anyone or it has been years since it happened, tell the truth.
1. Your friendly neighborhood emergency room visit
Sickness is something that is going to affect the both of you. As you start your life together, be open about your health….very open. Even if you have had a full recovery, your spouse deserves to know if you are at risk for certain sicknesses, repercussions from surgery, or a scary relapse. Don’t take “in sickness and in health” lightly; your spouse deserves to know if a serious illness is potentially going to be a part of your relationship. It’s personal, but hiding your health isn’t going to do you or your spouse any favors.
2. Money, Money, Money
Money can be a touchy subject, but being honest can help avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding. Keeping debt a secret isn’t going to last for long. Even with separate bank accounts, debt will catch up to you. Being honest about finances lets you both create a budget that works for your life together. Don’t let your spouse find out about financial trouble the hard way; Be honest about salaries, potential downsizing at work, and where the money is going. If you’re a shopper, tell your spouse and work something out. Having an agreed upon ‘personal spending’ account still lets you have the flexibility to splurge on something just for you, but doesn’t keep your partner in the dark about money. Win-win.
3. I’m pretty sure we’re happy together
Both of you should be happy in your relationship, so why would you keep your expectations a secret? Be fair and respectful, but be honest about what you are expecting from the relationship. Keeping your thoughts about getting married, having kids, or French kissing a secret can only lead to heartbreak. Don’t feel like you need to pretend things are fine to be happy; Be honest about what you expect and talk it out with your partner.
4. The deal with mom and dad
Your relationship with your parents is going to be shared with your spouse one day. In a serious relationship, it’s crucial that each person understands the family dynamics on both sides. If a sibling will possibly need some extra care someday down the road, that is important to know early on, instead of an ‘all the sudden surprise’ approach. A poor relationship with your siblings and/or parents is going to affect your romantic relationships, so be upfront about your family.
5. When I grow up
If you feel like you can’t tell your love about your wildest dreams that should be a big red flag. You should be with someone who you trust so fully that you don’t feel silly confessing your goals, big or small. Your spouse should know what you are working towards in life, and help you along the way. If you never share your goals, there is no way to make them happen. Decide to be honest about what you want in life, and let your love in on your plans.
6. One time in high school-
Be honest about your past—broad, I know. But the things that make you who you are need to be out in the open. Your past can help explain why you are the way you are now: commitment issues, feelings about raising a family, and even hobbies have a place in a relationship, and are closely tied to your past. Don’t fall into the trap of “it happened so long ago” because the truth has a way of reappearing. Would you prefer your spouse found out the truth because of a run-in with a former fiancé or because you chose to talk about it? There’s no need to go into needless and excruciating detail, but you would never want your spouse to feel like they have married someone they didn’t even know.
These topics can be touchy and secretive for a reason, but shouldn’t be kept hidden in your relationship. Find a time to be honest- make an appointment instead of casually mentioning something that is going to need some discussing. The potential shock is something that can be worked through, but the hurt feelings and betrayal from years of hiding is more difficult.