Is Total Honesty Really the Best Thing for a Relationship?


They don't need to know EVERYTHING

by Stephanie Kaloi, Content Manager

woman on her phone

The other day I let my husband sign into his email on my phone (because he’d left his phone at home) for a sec. Color me furious when a few hours later he asked me if I had googled “Hawaiian grocery store Oakland” recently. I paused, confused, and answered yes. Then he asked if I had googled a few more things, and I was inwardly frantically trying to figure out WTF was going on while outwardly keeping my cool. I felt like this:

giphy (1)

It turns out that because he was signed into my phone, my phone was telling him everything I was doing. Never mind that my phone doesn’t do this for me, or that searching for a grocery store isn’t some major hyped up secret I need to guard, but blah blah blah MY PHONE WAS SELLING ME OUT TO THE GUY I PROMISED TO SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE WITH WHY WOULD IT DO THAT.

I took this harrowing experience to work with me, like you do, and eventually it led to a conversation about what if any secrets are kept in a marriage. Meg reminded me that a) she has already written on this topic, and b) keeping secrets is what makes marriage work. RECORD SCRATCH, what?!

When you get married, you’re supposed to stop keeping secrets… right?

Guys, I don’t think so. I mean, sure, I don’t really care if my husband knows about my wild and dangerous grocery store quest, but the idea of him reading my email? Wherein I talk mostly about stuff my kid is up to, work, and collect so much spam it makes me cry? No sir. Sharing an inbox would make me scream, and I can’t even begin to pretend that I’d be down for sharing a Facebook account, and God forbid he read my Slack or listen to the RIGHTFUL BITCHING I AM ALLOWED TO DO ABOUT WHATEVER I WANT to my friends.

My final thought? Sometimes you tell each other something in great detail, like when you’re talking about past relationships (well, maybe) or what you want for dinner that night. If we’re tucking in for a long night of discussing our childhoods and struggles and future hopes and fears, hell yes: lay the secrets on me. But if my mother-in-law has a negative opinion on something I’ve done or said that’s of little consequence to anyone? I really don’t need to know. In fact, I really don’t want to know. Keep it to yourself.

Do you keep secrets from your partner? What kind of secrets should be kept, and what kind should always be told? what kind of secret would you hate for your partner to keep from you? does total honesty really make a marriage work, or is selective honesty the name of the game?


The Info:

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her husband, their seven year old metalhead son, and a crew of beasts. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and smiley faces.

Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Violet

    Oooh, this will be a fun discussion. Before it all gets underway, I wonder about the distinction between secrets and privacy. I feel like sometimes there’s this false dichotomy, like you have to either share EVERYTHING with your partner (leaving you no privacy at all) or else somehow you’re advocating for keeping secrets from your spouse. I’m rarely in favor of secrets (though not opposed 100%), but I am a big fan of privacy, even from your significant other.

    • Meredith

      Secrecy vs. Privacy seems like a very important distinction. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I actually really hate giving my fiance my phone to google something for fear of him seeing random google searches that I have done. And it’s not about secrecy because I’m not googling anything earth shattering here, but as you said it’s about an expectation of privacy.

      • Cellistec

        I really like the secret vs. private distinction, and I’ve been chewing on it for a few minutes. How about this: something is private if you choose not to share it under most circumstances, but you’d share it if asked; something is secret if you resist sharing it even when asked, and/or put effort into resisting sharing it. Any progress there?

        • I think this is a good general barometer for the line between the two!

        • Emily

          Good progress! I would go a bit further that something is “secret” if you consciously hide something. Like if I posted anonymously, it’s because the thing is a secret.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          This is a pretty good distinction, for me. If I were to feel myself resisting and not wanting to tell PADude something, especially if he was asking about it, I would take a moment to ask myself why I don’t want to tell him.

          • Honey Boo

            Yes, this.

        • I can relate to your way of thinking. I am always honest, but I don’t always volunteer information. If asked, I ,(isn’t always good for me or whoever​), I say, “do you really want the truth, you know I don’t lie”. And go from there.

      • One of the examples I’ve often seen used to distinguish between privacy and secrecy (usually in terms of govt surveillance) is it’s the difference between having curtains and bricking up your windows. It’s reasonable to not want strangers staring at you, but it’s weird to not want people to know you’ve even got windows.

      • S

        I wouldn’t want my partner (or anyone on earth) to read through my full google history (I’d rather die!) but if either of us need each other’s phone, we gladly hand it over. I think I’d feel a twinge of worry if I asked for my partner’s phone and he truly hesitated, even though intellectually I agree we both deserve privacy and what he does on his phone is his own business. I just can’t think of anything I’ve ever looked up that I would really not want him to see, and he’s never hesitated before, so if it happened I would definitely have a little alarm bell? So, I don’t know. We both expect privacy, but I think we both have an expectation that if we needed to we could go onto the other’s computer/phone, whether they were around or not (to use, not to snoop) and that whatever came up would be fine for the other to see. I don’t know if that makes sense!

    • Ashlah

      Yes, exactly!! Secrecy is not typically a healthy relationship dynamic, but we absolutely value our individual privacy. It’s okay to have private spheres, like your email, your Google history, or your Disqus account… :) I don’t need to know what/if he posts on Jeep forums for me to feel like we’re being honest and open with each other.

      • Honey Boo

        Right but isn’t there a difference between hiding it vs. oversharing? To me, I don’t care what my person does on forums, so I’ll never go looking. But therefore I don’t see any reason to hide it either. Why would they even look/care?

        • Ashlah

          I guess I’m not sure where the assumption of hiding anything is coming from?

          I occasionally mention that I post on a weekly open thread, or that I have a pregnancy board I’m a member of, but I don’t tell him, “I participate as Ashlah on an open thread at apracticalwedding.com every Friday at 10 AM” both because I value it as a private space and because it isn’t worth sharing, and he’s not interested in monitoring it. So am I hiding it? Or am I choosing not to share details of something that doesn’t matter?

          • AP

            You know, this got me thinking. One of the reasons I keep my Discus settings private is so that my husband can’t stumble across every comment I’ve ever made (and if I’m saying something super private, I go anonymous.) He knows about APW and he knows that I comment a lot. But he’s never asked to see my comments. I guess if he asked, I’d show him, but the thought makes me really uncomfortable. This is an important space for me to work out things I’m experiencing in my relationship with a feminist lens, which isn’t something I can get from my friends/family, and I don’t think I’d like for him to see that process as it unfolds here.

          • NolaJael

            My brother in law recently got engaged and I did a speed read of my APW comments before forwarding the site to his bride on the off chance they’d be able to identify something I’d said about their family during my own wedding planning angst.

          • Lisa

            There are definitely some articles I’ve refrained from sharing with other people in my life because I wanted to participate in the comment threads instead.

          • Diverkat

            Or am I choosing not to share details of something that doesn’t matter?

            I think that’s the difference, isn’t it? If it isn’t relevant to your relationship, then wouldn’t it just be considered part of your privacy?

        • Jessica

          If my husband went looking, he could find my comments on APW–including ones that discuss him. If I went looking I could probably find some things from his internet history, some of which may (but probably aren’t) about me.

          But there is an unspoken assumption that this is private. If he or I felt really insecure about it, I would hope we’d have a discussion on where that insecurity was coming from. Nothing I’ve posted is not true, but the fact that I share it with “strangers” would be hurtful (though necessary for me to process stuff that has been happening), and I’d rather he not see that.

          • Gaby

            I bring up APW in our conversations and tell him things I’ve posted about from time to time, but he knows this is my private space and I’m pretty sure I’ve explicitly stated that I would hate for him or any of our friends to see what I vent about every week.

          • Susannekcaballero

            Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj195d:
            On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
            !mj195d:
            ➽➽
            ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash195DirectServicesGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj195d:….,….

          • Judithjlewis

            Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj183d:
            On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
            !mj183d:
            ➽➽
            ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash183TopBusinessGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj183d:….,…….

          • Louisemheilman

            Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj175d:
            On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
            !mj175d:
            ➽➽
            ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash175DirectBoxGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj175d:….,……

    • NatalieN

      I agree – I think “secret” implies something I don’t want you to know about. I don’t have secrets from my husband, but there are things I don’t tell him. Like if he *wants* to know (being outrageous here) about my menstrual cramps or that I think the soccer jersey he still sometimes wears that he got in the 8th grade is actually not that flattering, I’ll tell him. But I’m not going to necessarily live in a running stream of conciousness around him either.

    • MarthaLewis11

      <-I was paid 104 thousand bucks in last twelve months by doing an online job a­­n­­d I was able to do it by wor­king in my own time f­­o­­r 3+ hrs /daily. I’m using a business model I found online and I am thrilled that i made so much money on the side. It's really beginner-friendly and I am just so thankful that i found this. Check out what I do…
      🠊🠊🠊🠊 www,OnlneEasyJobsAtHome,com

  • louise danger

    I think there’s a difference between “why would I share this with [anyone – friend/coworker/spouse]” and “I am keeping this a secret from [friend/coworker/spouse].” The former is the day-to-day minutiae you’re discussing here – literal ‘who cares’ stuff like Googling about grocery stores or whatever. The latter is actively choosing to exclude someone, and I guess I would question why you’d do that in a marriage, someone who is your partner. Maybe that’s me coming from a not-married-yet perspective, though.

    Like, if you were bitching about $whatever on the phone with your friend and you were angry and your husband overheard and asked about it, is that a ~secret~ that you wouldn’t share with him? Or would you talk to him about the problem (probably in a different way than you’d discuss it with a friend)?

    I think I just see a difference between “I AM KEEPING A SECRET” and “I just didn’t think this was something you’d care about so I didn’t bring it up.”

    • Sara

      Yes! I believe honesty is the best policy in general, but also I respect personal boundaries and privacy. I might gossip with my bestie or blow off steam with her, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m keeping things from my partner. Maybe he doesn’t care that Mandy’s ex’s sister is pregnant or that I don’t love the way his mom makes mashed potatoes. As long as no one is hurt, opinons can remain personal. Its when you’re actively asked “Do you like mom’s mashed potatoes” and you lie that it becomes an issue for me.

      • scw

        you know, it’s kind of funny because I was totally with you until your example. I think I’d lie about these hypothetical mashed potatoes.

        • Sara

          lol bad example maybe. But I’m also known as ‘too honest’ so I respond truthfully when asked direct questions. Its a fatal flaw sometimes.

          • scw

            HAHA I’m with you actually. in real life I probably wouldn’t get the chance to lie about the mashed potatoes because my face and general attitude would be giving it away that I totally hate them.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I wonder if somewhere on that spectrum is the idea of “picking your battles.” Like, not talking to your spouse about something deliberately because you suspect it might start a fight that would not be worth the drama, probably about an unimportant issue. That could include not telling a spouse that something he did bothered/hurt you, or not telling him something you did that you think might bother/hurt him. Is that the same as keeping secrets, or deciding something is ultimately unimportant, or choosing not to discuss something for the sake of keeping the peace?

      • Kalë

        Ooh, this is a good – and tricky! – distinction. I think no, it’s not quite the same thing. Low-level “choosing your battles” type things to me are like, I’m not going to bitch to my guy every single time he does something I find annoying. Because it would be multiple times a day, sometimes. But if there’s something that is continually bothering me, I think there’s a point where it crosses the line between being a “whatever, *eye roll*” and being something bigger that is or could turn into a secret. Especially if it has the potential to build up and explode out, and then it becomes a “why didn’t you tell me”.

        • Her Lindsayship

          I think this is basically the key to a lasting relationship – figuring out what things need to be discussed and what things need to be let go. And this is why it’s so important to have the privacy to talk about your relationship with someone who isn’t in it!

      • JC

        This has come up several times for us recently! Once because of some weird behavior of a coworker of his. He decided not to tell me because he also found it weird and he didn’t want to be in the position of “defending” it if I got upset. He was totally right. Just last week I was debating telling him something that had been bothering me, and then I just…didn’t. The next day was fine, and can I recall what that thing is now? No I cannot. I wouldn’t have called “picking my battles” the same as “keeping secrets,” but in some cases, there’s a pretty good venn diagram there!

      • Amy March

        I think part of it for me is sometimes you just deal with your feelings on your own, and I find that reasonable and its an expectation I have for others in my life too. If I’m a little bit irritated I generally think its my job to figure out how to solve that emotion, not complain to someone else that they did something insignificant that rubbed me the wrong way. I view it as being an adult not as being secretive.

        • April

          I think there is a way to deal with your feelings on your own but also let your partner know that those feelings exist. We’ve had some conversations before where it’s “I’m irritated by x, but also probably tired and maybe some other stuff is going on so you don’t need to change anything but just an FYI I’m kind of irritable about this right now.”

          For us it’s part of the team thing where we take care of each other and if something is driving one of us crazy and it’s normally fine but today it’s annoying for REASONS – it’s fine to mention that. It might not work for everyone but it works for us to give each other a heads up when we’re feeling irritable so neither of us is like “wtf is going on?” and maybe the irritated party gets a little TLC that day which is pretty nice.

    • Katherine

      The point about the day-to-day details is interesting to me because of my previous relationship. That relationship had a lot of issues in its own right, but I found that once I stopped sharing minor details and boring “who cares” type of stuff, it made it a lot easier to lie about bigger problems that were going on. Of course, that likely has to do with my personality – I’m sure it isn’t a big thing for other people.

      • mjh

        Sounds like my partner. He shares all the little details, and it’s important to him to do so. He’s said that for him, sharing the little details of his day is a big part of feeling connected and maintaining our intimacy. Of course he knows that our relationship wouldn’t fall into ruin if I didn’t hear about the new sandwich place he tried on whatever given day, but the way he works, not sharing the day to day stuff brings distance that can actually hurt us.

        I’m not a big sharer and I’ve never felt like I needed that from people I’ve been with. It was interesting for me to realize that I feel like I need more sharing from him. It’s not because we’re married; I don’t think I’d need it from my spouse if I’d married someone else. But it’s his normal mode and if he didn’t share like usual, I’d worry that something were up and that he’d be feeling disconnected.

  • Abby

    Can’t WAIT to see this thread!

    I have ALWAYS been a proponent of keeping it to yourself when it comes to finding others attractive. I personally don’t think it makes anyone in the relationship feel good and then depending on the day and my level of emotion stability, I’m outright hurt. (normally I’m just annoyed)

    So for the good of our relationship, we’ve collectively decided that we keep those things to ourselves and if it drives a sudden desire to have random sex that we don’t explain, ALL the better.

    • AP

      Second keeping crushes/attractions to myself. It does my husband no good to know the only reason I still agree to watch Grey’s Anatomy with him is for Jesse Williams, nor that I have a bookmark of a Buzzfeed listicle of shirtless Jesse Williams photos.

      • Jessica

        I think I need to see that list, just to full understand what you’re point is ;)

      • Gaby

        Jesse Williams is a woke hottie favorite of mine, but the ladies of the Another Round podcast brought up that he’s a 9/11 truther and I follow him on tumblr and can confirm :/ I still love him, but it did bring him down from fairytale unicorn status for me.

        • AP

          WHAT. Sigh.

      • Abby

        RIGHT?! THOSE EYES.

    • Lisa

      Just goes to show that each couple is different! My husband and I actually discuss people we find attractive and why, and it’s never bothered either of us.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        So do we. Sometimes we check out the same people!

      • sofar

        It depends on context for us. For example, I’ll totally check out a well-dressed man in front of my husband and be like, “Wow he can really wear a suit!” Or he’ll point out a girl and say, “You should wear more dresses like that!”

        But I’d never tell him I have a little crush on a dance partner/guy on my bus route. And I’d prefer he not tell me he feels butterflies for the girl at his regular coffee spot. Being attracted to others is normal even after marriage, so for us, we’ve agreed, “Feeling a certain way about attractive people you interact with regularly is fine, but we don’t need to tell each other about it.”

        • idkmybffjill

          Yes! Same. “I think that guy on The Great British Baking Show is hot”? Fair game. “I maybe have a crush on someone that I’m working through”? As long as I’m certain I’m not going to act on it, he doesn’t need to worry about that.

        • I land here too– comments on attractive people are fair game, but in general we get over crushes on our own. We both trust each other to work those out ourselves.

          • idkmybffjill

            I think especially because – if it’s someone I’ll be interacting with in the future (say, a colleague?), I really don’t want to have that in my head. I trust him to get over his stuff and I get over mine.

          • Katharine Parker

            Yeah, there is something about disclosing a crush to your partner that makes it meaningful in a way that having a little crush, ignoring it, and moving on isn’t.

          • idkmybffjill

            Yes, I completely agree! It makes it seem like, “and I’m telling you because you should be worried.” This might depend on how often people get crushes. I, personally, get them fairly often – deal with them, and then move on. Our relationship doesn’t get effected negatively/I don’t cross fidelity lines… no need to make my husband sweat it.

          • MrsRalphWaldo

            I agree here. I feel like sharing some things make them seem bigger than they are.

          • Abby

            I generally agree, and this is generally how I operate too, but this recently came up in an interesting context – a hypothetical of “my life would be so much less awesome without you– what would have happened if we hadn’t met/hadn’t worked out?” It was really nice to be able to discuss the people we might have considered but for the relationship, but within the very safe/affirming space of “I’m so glad I DID wind up with you, because none of them can hold a candle to you.”

          • idkmybffjill

            Maybe this is because I’ve never had a crush on anyone I’d actually see myself being in a relationship with were I not with my husband? They’re usually aquaintances/showmances, and people I’m just generally attracted to. I would maybe bring it up if it was someone I was actually close with.

          • Katherine

            I am the opposite – I feel like telling my husband about my crushes makes them not a big deal, while sitting on them makes it feel like I’m trying to hide something. Interesting!

          • Natalie

            Me, too. My husband and I are firmly in the camp of (over)sharing, including telling each other when we have crushes. Him telling me about a crush affirms that he has nothing to hide (and vice versa). Learning months later that he’s been crushing on someone would make me feel like he’d been hiding something, maybe because something bigger was going on.

          • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

            That’s where I am, too. I’m also so happy we’re in such a good place where it’s totally not a big deal to have little crushes on work friends. I like that we can joke about it. I feel like I was only ready for this because past relationships were not like this.

        • Katharine Parker

          My fiance and I discuss celebrities we find attractive. We’ll talk about the looks of people we know (“Valentina looks pretty with her new hair color” or “I’ve never seen Amadeus in a suit before–he looks great!”), but it’s always in a somewhat abstract way. We don’t say stuff like, “I’m super attracted to the person in the office next to mine at work.” That would cross a line.

      • rg223

        Us too!

      • Abby

        Totes have friends who are the same way. I think that’s the beauty of how different marriages work and how couples communication is key. =)

  • Sarah

    My fiance knows the password to my cell and all my accounts. I know his as well. i don’t check any of them and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t check mine. But he could if he wanted to. I have nothing to hide- he’s got nothing to hide. I like it like that.

    • Violet

      I’ve got nothing to hide, but that still doesn’t mean I want to give people the option to surveil me! That’s why this is so interesting; to each their own.

      • Cellistec

        Yeah, I keep security pretty tight on my phone–no saved browser history, screen lock with PIN, 2-factor authentification, etc.–but not to hide anything from my husband. It’s to hide things from total strangers and aspiring identity thieves! (Which I guess includes the CIA now? Too soon?)

    • K.

      My husband and I have a shared dashlane account and I didn’t think twice about letting him know my new phone code when I switched to the new iOS (went from a 4 digit passcode to a 6 digit one). Really, this is more for logistics and if one of us is incapacitated/forgot our phone/need the other to access an account quickly. But we also trust that the other won’t go digging deep into the bowels of our texts or emails.

    • Ashlah

      We can get into each other’s cell phones, but that’s mostly for the convenience of “Hey, can you check the recipe I’ve got open while I’m making sure this roux doesn’t burn?” Neither of us accesses anything else (texts, call history, accounts) on the other person’s phone.

    • We can unlock each other’s phones, but we generally don’t share passwords except for accounts we both need access to (Amazon, bank accounts, etc.). Accessing devices is always an ask for us– hey, can I use your phone/computer? But we don’t read emails or texts etc– the thought is that if there’s email we want to share, we forward it.

  • Lisa

    The joint Facebook accounts always make me feel really weirded out. It feels more acceptable in older couples (my aunt has my uncle’s name on her account, too), but it’s so odd when I see people in my peer group shutdown their individual accounts in favor of a joint one. It feels like you’re announcing that you will no longer deal with people individually and that, to speak to one partner, a person must address both. While, yes, I might tell my husband about a Facebook exchange I had, I don’t feel like he needs to be an active party to all of my on-line socializing.

    • AP

      I have a few relatives and older couple friends with shared email addresses, and it always weirds me out too. Plus, it’s just inefficient. Take my mom and stepdad- they share an email address, but they don’t communicate with each other about the emails they receive. So if I send my mom an email but my stepdad is the one who checks it, she isn’t aware of it unless he tells her. My mom also has her own email address, but she never responds and always asks me which email I sent something to. So I’ve given up emailing her.

      • Sara

        My parents used to share an email too and it drove me bananas because one would read and delete or neither would read it assuming the other person would ‘get it’. Recently my dad got his own gmail account, and they’re both so much better at responding now that my mom’s email is actually hers. It had her initials in the address, I don’t know why my dad resisted getting his own for so long.

        • AP

          My husband’s parents do the same thing! He always has to call his parents and tell them to check their email and not delete it. I don’t think they’re going to change any time soon though.

    • Stephanie B.

      Joint email addresses, too. I can’t even imagine. Partly that’s because a lot of my work email comes to my personal email AND because my husband gets a billion eBay alert emails for some weird mechanical part he’s in search of for one of his tinkering projects, and neither of us would want to wade through those emails. But mostly it’s because we’re TWO SEPARATE PEOPLE.

      • Ashlah

        Right, I can see the usefulness of a shared email for shared online accounts (banks, utilities, etc), but for personal communications? Nah.

      • I can see the point of a family email. My parents have one family email (in addition to their individual emails) that they use for signing up for family things. So it’s the email for my sister’s soccer teams and for school events and such. We put it down as our email before we had individual email addresses growing up. My parents also have very opposite schedules so it helps to make sure that something has been looked at and taken care of.

        But for just my husband and I… right now we are fine with our individual emails.

        • NolaJael

          Yes. I can see this being a way to decrease the “default parent” syndrome.

        • Julia

          I’ve missed having a landline, and a shared “family” voicemail for this reason (plus nostalgia). With cell phones, anyone calling makes a very specific decision to call Me or Spouse, when it didn’t used to be that way.

          • Ashlah

            My MIL has lamented cell phones for exactly this reason. She never gets to have a chat with me just because I happen to be the one who answers the phone.

          • AP

            Lol, even if we still had a landline, caller ID would nip that in the bud;)

          • emmers

            Texting is sometimes good for this. I like when people text us both about plans (vs assuming either of us is the social coordinator).

          • April

            My partner and I usually do this for all our family stuff and it’s awesome. I don’t have be the “planner” and partner doesn’t get left out.

          • E.

            My mom and stepmom recently got rid of their landline and I HATE IT for this reason. I don’t want to choose which one I’m calling! Especially with normal stepmom insecurities already.

          • jem

            I wonder if this trend away from shared landlines and towards individual cell phones has anything to do with the trend I’ve noticed with family members contacting the Lady of the House for all social planning?

      • BSM

        We have a joint email in addition to our personal email addresses, and I loooooove it! We set it up when we were wedding planning to communicate with vendors and have used it for so many subsequent projects (buying/selling houses, back and forth w/ contractors and subs, talking to our tenants, bills, etc.) that would have been a huge pain to coordinate if we had to constantly forward stuff to each other. I think it’s also going to get a lot of use once we have a kid, in therms of their organizing activities.

        Not only is it great for all the practical reasons I mentioned, but I really appreciate that it puts me and my husband on the same footing wrt household administrative duties. People always seem to default to asking me about social activities and him financial/construction questions, and I like that the joint email address allows us to both respond to anything that comes up, regardless of people’s gendered ideas about our expertise :)

      • We have a joint email but it’s solely for services like Netflix and things related to the baby, hence info we both need. I’d never email a friend of mine from our joint account, that would be weird.

        • emmers

          This is a good idea. We have some services that point to his account and some to mine, but it might be more convenient if they pointed to a common account.

          • BSM

            We use ours for that, too. Really helps when you forget to put Comcast on autopay, so they turn off your internet, and the person who “owns” the account is out of town (among other things)!

        • zana

          We also both use the same password vault (SplashID Safe) and can just share the passwords on specific accounts this way. You don’t necessarily need a joint email account, just a way to jointly access the account.

      • mjh

        We have a family email address which automatically forwards to both my email and my partner’s. Neither of us actually send or receive emails there, we just use it for ecards to relatives that we would sign as being from both of us, and we used it a couple times when we needed to put an email down when rsvping for a wedding. He set it up as a novelty (he LOVES wedding/marriage/couple related novelties) and it’s mostly been irrelevant but has been kind of convenient for avoiding one of us being the cards and rsvps point person for our household.

        I can’t imagine using a shared account for our actual emails.

        • Ashlah

          (he LOVES wedding/marriage/couple related novelties)
          That’s adorable.

      • GotMarried!

        We have joint and separate email accounts. Because I do not need to know the latest status of whatever electronic junk he’s following online and he does not care about all of the blogs to which i’m subscribed. But for home service vendors or our recent mortgage re-fi … the joint is SO SO nice.

        • Janet Hélène

          Exactly! Kind of like how we have joint and separate bank accounts. :)

          • Morgan D

            Yes! We have joint and separate emails and banks accounts (and Amazon, because neither of us really needs to know how the other is choosing to spend their spending money, as long as it’s within the budget). Netflix, Audible, etc. – places where goods can be shared – have all merged.

    • NolaJael

      There are other reasons for doing this. If you work in an industry or job where Facebook is policed (which are increasing every day), there is some cover that it’s not clear who posted and it’s a flag to friends and family that it is not a private account so don’t overshare.

      • Lisa

        That still seems odd to me. Why not just go super underground then or use a shortened or purposefully misspelled version of a name? You’d have the same issues with a joint account and possibly be held responsible for something your spouse posted since you can’t prove who wrote what.

        • AP

          My friend who is a clinical psychologist uses a pseudonym on FB so that her patients can’t find her. I think it’s pretty common.

          • Lisa

            Many of my doctor friends did this when applying for med schools and residency, and I have a cousin who uses a very fake spelling of his name (think “Maykelll” instead of “Michael”) to keep his employers from finding him. It would definitely signal to me that they were hiding their accounts before a joint account would.

        • NolaJael

          Fair points. I think we’re still at the early stages of figuring out how digital technology and social media fit into our bigger lives and culture (see today’s Wikileaks). I don’t think it’s settled as to how people will treat these things going forward. Like with facial recognition technologies getting better every day, misspellings and creative handles won’t protect those who have pictures up from being easily found and outed.

          • Lisa

            Yes, facial recognition searches are definitely going to be a problem in the future. (How will we feel about them finding dating profiles or less innocent information if it exists?) I just don’t think the double account will protect against that though either.

      • Ashlah

        I would definitely miss that flag. I wouldn’t know to treat a couple’s shared Facebook any differently than an individual’s, as far as information sharing goes.

    • Guesty

      This is more of an independence thing for me than a privacy thing. I’d rather handle my own business and social life via email and facebook and have husband handle his.

      • Guesty

        Sometimes it’s funny and cute to feel like we are merging into an amoeba (inside jokes, finishing sentences, etc), other times it gets a little creepy/codependent. We still need to be fully functioning individuals.

    • sofar

      It also definitely gives me pause when I see someone my age sharing an active FB profile with their spouse.

      The only time I’ve seen where it kinda made sense is a couple who is anti-social-media (neither had an account before marriage). After much kvetching from family, they set up a joint FB account exclusively for sharing baby pictures. It’s private, unsearchable and the profile has like 20 friends. All they post is baby pictures so family can see them. There is a disclaimer in the “about” section that says, “Do not try to contact either of us at this account, we do not check messages.”

      My husband set up a joint email account for us, presumably to get emails regarding shared bank accounts and such. But we both got sick of logging in to another account after like a week and ditched the idea. Auuugghhhh I can’t imagine our families trying to communicate with us via a joint email account. Separate accounts allow us to shield each other from our crazy fams.

      • Kalë

        This is totally off topic, but as more and more of my friends have kids, it’s something that’s popped into my head a few times. Photos of babies online – parents with kids, please weigh in!

        On the one hand, I love seeing baby pictures on Facebook, insta, whatever. I love babies, their cute squishy faces and the wacky and cute things they do. I appreciate my friends’ babies, acquaintences’ babies, all the babies! On the other hand, as a non-parent, I feel like I would be super uncomfortable sharing photos of my future kids online, and I’m not sure how to fully articulate it. Maybe that weird people could get ahold of them? Maybe because it’s sort of a weird disruption of their growing autonomy? I don’t know, but I definitely see a difference between like, a physical photo album or whatever, and pictures of kiddoss online. Anyone wanna weigh in?

        • K.

          Personally, I know that my Instagram will go private and I’ll be a lot more careful about who I’m connected to on Facebook before posting pics of my (still in utero) kid. And we’ve already come up with a sharing policy – basically, people can post photos of our kid if they took the picture, but they cannot share photos we took and sent them.

          There’s still risks there, but to us, social media is a reality and an easy way to stay in contact. We don’t necessarily want to be total luddites about it (feels unrealistic). But we also want to protect our child and also respect their own privacy.

        • Ashlah

          I think the challenge (for me) is the idea of where is the line when it becomes the child’s turn to decide what photos they want online? I don’t think we’ll restrict ourselves from posting any photos (and it can be really hard to prevent other people from posting), but that’s the question I wonder about. When they get their own social media presence, do you go back and delete all their photos? When they’re able to talk, do they get a say in what gets posted? It’s complex. I know we’ll more choosy about what we post than some others (and no toilet training photos), but we probably will share some.

          • Jessica

            I have 2 sets of sibling-in-laws with kids. One family posts EVERYTHING online–cute, angry, naked, playing, sleeping, whatever. The other insists that only photos of arms and legs (???) be posted, but will send full photos and videos using the encrypted WhatsApp thread the family has going. It’s interesting that it’s kind of both extremes coming out of the same family, but the happiest medium I’ve seen is about 1 photo a month on facebook, plus whatever the aunts/uncles/grandparents post.

            But really, I’ve tried to point out the right to the kid’s eventual privacy to the share-everything side when they post photos of the baby’s bare butt or bath photos. It’s soooo inappropriate.

          • AP

            Or like, photos of their kids’ tantrums or meltdowns, or rants about their bad behavior. I see those and thank god there was no internet when I was a kid.

          • Jessica

            Or one friend posts the poop photos–where poop basically explodes in the diaper. And then they take a picture. Of the kid. Playing in poop.

            Not really what I need to see on Wednesday morning, dude.

          • Ashlah

            Just comment with a link to STFU Parents. (At least that’s what I’d be tempted to do).

          • Jessica

            I’ve never seen that site before, and I’m so glad I didn’t know about it during the Ferguson grand jury decision.

            Anger. So much anger.

          • Ashlah

            Ugh, I know. People are the absolute worst. She still posts new content on Mommyish.com, if you need a hate read fix. (She posts positive ones occasionally too, but of course that’s not as fun.)

          • Ashlah

            Yeah, I’m not a fan of “Look, (s)he was having a tantrum!” style posts. Also, I don’t really want to see anyone’s snot.

          • Lisa

            WhatsApp revolutionized the way that our family shares photos and keeps in touch as well. It’s a game changer.

          • Jessica

            I like it for the most part because I like seeing cute photos of my niblings, but it has turned into a lazy way for my MIL to not text individual children of hers–she just posted a photo in relation to a conversation she had with one of her kids, then had to explain the whole thing in the thread about how my FIL thought he forgot to pack his hat, but turns out he did.

            I put it on silent most of the time.

          • MrsRalphWaldo

            I kind of think it would work the same way it does for you as an adult. We all have the friend that over-shares. You can untag yourself or ask them to take it down, but unfortunately you can’t really prevent them from posting it.

          • zana

            Oh, thank gawd social media wasn’t around when we were babies.

        • rg223

          We do share pictures of our kid, but we are really mindful of how personal we get with them – no bath pictures, for example. We both use strict privacy settings. And we ask family and friends to show us the pictures they intend to share of our son and get our permission first. We have had a LOT of pushback on that rule unfortunately – my husband comes from a very pro-photo-sharing culture. People have definitely used my son’s photo without permission (we are currently trying to get Facebook to take my son’s picture off an account of a distant aunt who lives in a foreign country and apparently is not using that account anymore – Facebook is EXTREMELY bad about helping people with this!!!!!)

          I plan on showing my son the pictures that I’ve posted of him and asking if he wants them taken down, once he’s old enough (maybe 6 or so?).

          Honestly, if I could go back, I wouldn’t have posted any pics in the first place (or like, ONE when he was born). That may not have stopped the relatives from posting pics, but it’s just very hard to get that cat back in the bag after it’s out. Sigh.

          • Amie Melnychuk

            We did monthly photos on Facebook, because grandparents and great aunts really wanted up to date photos, all the time.

            Now, I have a private instagram feed, and have requested that any photos posted of the kid have me tagged in them. No nudes, and nothing that she would regret when she is applying for jobs later in life. Formal family photos = awesome! Playing with dog poop, no-so-much…

          • rg223

            I guess I should add – we have a private Google Photos page and share a TON of pics with family and friends that way… which is part of what makes the public FB sharing without following our ground rules even more frustrating.

        • Cleo

          My cousin posts photos of her (very cute) 3 year old daughter running around in nothing but her underwear. I always feel skeeved out by it because my immediate thought is “Pedophiles can possibly access these!!!”

          My cousin thinks I’m being paranoid, so I’ve learned to not say anything.

        • Lisa

          I think the oversharing about the children’s lives is what bothers me the most. Kids in photos are normal, and they’ll probably end up as the subject of a few posts on-line. The thing that starts to get under my skin is when friends/acquaintances share all of the meltdowns and awkward moments of parenting. I get that it helps to normalize that no one’s life is perfect, but I would hate to have had some of the stories that my mom has told me about my childhood enshrined on her Facebook timeline forever.

        • Antonia

          My daughter is 15 months old, and I’ve posted a total of six photos of her to FB – the first one not until she was just about a year old. No ultrasound pics (having an online presence before you’re a full-formed human is just… weird), nothing naked/embarrassing, and no commentary – nothing that would assign her “character traits” this early on, if that makes sense (smart, funny, feisty, temperamental, good/bad sleeper, etc.). I also don’t talk about motherhood on social media. Like, I’ll ask for baby-gear recommendations, but I don’t post about feelings/emotions.

          Her personality is HERS to develop and share with the online world, if, when, and should she so choose. I have the strictest privacy settings on my FB page, but I know they’re not fool proof – not by a long shot. My concern is less with creepers and more with her resenting me for something I posted.

          I found this article interesting: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/dont-post-about-me-on-social-media-children-say/?_r=0

          • idkmybffjill

            I really like this article. I don’t have kids yet (one on the way), but I’ve thought alot about how we’ll handle photos of him. I like your method.

        • I am that mama who set up a separate IG account for the baby (it’s BabyPi2017 if anyone wants to see it). Our families are both hundreds of miles away, plus our huge network of friends, which means we share photos online so that everyone can see them. Would I be pissed if someone used a pic of my baby for nefarious reasons? Sure…but I also have bigger things to worry about than that. No shade to the mamas who don’t want to share their kids photos online, btw.

          • Kalë

            Love! And definitely heading to insta right now to follow her!

          • ART

            sooo cute!

        • NatalieN

          Some friends of mine have an online album that they use to post/store pictures of their baby. But it’s password protected and you need an email to get them (they provide both the password and the email to any friends/family who want it). I feel like that’s a great way to protect your kid and save the friends who don’t have kids/ dont necessarily want to see all the pictures.

        • Eenie

          I”m late to the convo, but my stance is that my future kid should get to decide what is publicly (or semi publicly) available online. I don’t want to make their digital footprint for them. I do plan on using an app of some sort to share pictures with family since we live so far away. I’m not 100% sure how I’ll handle family posting pictures of them on social media.

      • zana

        Slightly related: it’s pretty easy to set up email forwarding on most email accounts, if you don’t like logging into other email accounts. Especially Gmail. I’ve included a potentially useful screenshot.
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/503f2f6d4bc85c37df0f432ef639c4a04f1d0be69b8c3bbcbfda92908ec64448.jpg

        This will forward all incoming emails to whatever email addresses you specify, such as your personal email address. You can also set it up so that you can respond to other email accounts using the email address of the family account, but you need to do this from your personal email account and not the family account.

        • Ashlah

          With Gmail, it’s also super easy to be logged in to two accounts at once (if you’re already the type of person to stay logged in all the time).

    • idkmybffjill

      Every time I see this I assume infidelity…whether or not it’s warranted. It’s just the only explanation I can think of!

      • AP

        Yeah, the ones with shared accounts because someone cheated. I know those couples, too.

      • Vanessa

        Or emotional control/abuse.

      • NolaJael

        I had literally never thought of that. All the joint accounts I know are baby boomers who were late to the game and were a couple before Facebook existed.

        • idkmybffjill

          huh! I think I only know younger couples who’ve joined accounts. It always seems to me like, “One of us was doing some inappropriate messaging.”

    • Joint FB accounts scream “one of us cheated!” to me. All the folks I know personally who have joint FB accounts have faced infidelity, and thus the joint page. It’s just so weird to me.

      • Huh, sadly, I don’t think that’d do too much to guarantee fidelity. It’s not hard for someone who doesn’t want to be honest or faithful to go underground with a new secret account, email, etc.

        • Lisa

          Just look at Josh Duggar!

    • Katherine

      The joint Facebook account thing feels odd to me as well. It gives me the sense that neither individual in the relationship has their own agency. I can understand the joint email account more for shared things like bills moreso, but it’s still strange.

      • NolaJael

        The flip side to this is step back and look at the expectation (demand?) we’ve created in our culture that Facebook be our “real” self and be an accurate and representative surrogate of our agency and feelings. It’s an inseparable intertwining our digital lives with our sense of self to the point that we think other variations “feel odd.” (Not judging! I do too! Just noting how ubiquitous it’s become.)

        • Katherine

          That’s a good point!

    • GotMarried!

      Many youth ministers (who work with the teenagers) in my religious tradition default to joint FB accounts. It helps a (often) male minister be able to befriend and communicate with teenage girl parishioners while minimizing the risk of folks finding questionable intent. Can inappropriateness still happen? Sure. But there is just a greater level of transparency when 14 year old kid is linked to both members of the couple.

      • Lisa

        Eh, I think tying a teenager to an adult authority figure on a social media platform is still pretty questionable even if there are technically two people on the account. As a parent, you have no idea who primarily uses that account, if he/she is deleting message histories so the other person can’t find out, etc. I didn’t connect with adults on Facebook when I was a teenager, and the only minors to whom I’m connected now are blood relatives.

        I get that the optics might be better, but like with the other point about injecting doubt about posting status, I don’t think joint accounts actually help anything.

        • Mary Jo TC

          Yeah, as a high school teacher my policy is never to friend students. But if they are 18 and send me a friend request after they have graduated, then I will friend them back. Actually, I don’t friend anyone younger than 18, including my cousins. I view it as an entirely adult space. I didn’t connect with anyone on facebook as a teenager because it wasn’t around until I was 19 or 20. Thank God!

    • Amy March

      I think it’s completely bizarre.

  • K.

    I think the in-law example is a really good one.

    On my side, my husband doesn’t need to know how much interference I have to run with my parents. Not because they’re saying anything bad about him, but because they (well, really my mom) have a different concept of boundaries than we do. If I told my husband, “Oh, by the way, I had to tell my mom that you’re a grown man and not to worry about it again today because she asked when your last dental cleaning was,” he’d eventually just get annoyed that she even brings up those topics to begin with, rather than appreciating that I mitigate them.

    On my husband’s side, I don’t need to know every time his mom makes a negative comment about how I’m not the cook in the family, even though culturally (Latin American) that’s unheard of for the wife to take on other duties. It would just breed resentment on my side, plus I’d scrutinize my husband’s response every time. If she says something directly to me, I deal with it then. But otherwise, it would just hurt my relationship with her and I trust my husband to handle it in the best way he can.

    I think this comes down to relationship management. We deal with our families to ensure that when we’re all together, expectations are clear and relations are all positive. Knowing the background work to get there would undermine that priority for us.

    • savannnah

      YES. I didn’t really need to know that fiance’s dad thinks I’m wife material but not mom martial or that he’s said it 3 times over the last year. At this point, left out of the loop is better than left out in the cold.

      • K.

        Oh man. Yeah, when we first got engaged we called my in-laws and my FIL somehow didn’t realize I was on the line, and he immediately started going on and on about how we should “jump in the Seine” (we were in Paris) to rethink our choice. Turns out he’s super anti-marriage despite his own 30+ year one, and my husband had always shielded me from that.

        It took me a loooonggg while to get over that one and it made me realize that my husband was probably stealth laying down boundaries *constantly.* It really confirmed that there were certain things I did NOT want to know.

        • Jessica

          +1 for your husband for laying down those boundaries, but -.25 for not letting you know he was shielding you from some stuff.

          • K.

            Yes, this was years ago luckily and now he’s learned to tell me things in at least broad watercolor strokes (like the fact that his mom firmly believes women should do all cooking…which is definitely not how we operate!) rather than thinking that telling me things at all, instead of just specifics, is subjecting me to unnecessary pain. I would have been able to take his dad’s comments in stride and with a much bigger grain of salt if I hadn’t been totally blindsided. It’s all about balance!

      • Cellistec

        I totally agree. My husband regularly updates me on the negative things his parents have said about me, and that’s one thing I wish he would keep to himself. (But he has a volcano personality where if he keeps stressful things to himself he gets health problems, so I take that one for the team.) On the other hand, I don’t tell him the negative things my relatives said about him, because I know they would hurt his feelings. The double standard works for us (kind of), but in general I’m with you on preferring to be left out of the loop.

      • mjh

        Savannah, I remember seeing that he said that in the comments on another article. That’s such crap, and I’m sorry he said that and that you had to hear about it.

        I totally respect your feelings on not wanting to hear about that and I think everyone should discuss the lines of what they’d want to hear and want not to hear with their partners and figure out the lines for the relationship accordingly. The lines that work for me are different.

        While I don’t think we need to tell each other every single thing all the time, the example of what savannah’s fiance’s dad said (which is horrible!) is the type of thing I particularly WOULD want to hear about from my partner. I understand intentional shielding of your partner, but for me personally, I want to be able to shield myself mentally. In my life, it’s mostly been prejudice/bigotry, but I can say that it’s so much harder for me to deal with negative comments about my culture/language/religion or the way our relationship functions from inlaws when I don’t know in advance that they hold those beliefs. When I know a relative holds shitty beliefs about me, people who look like/pray like/sound like me, and/or the type of marriage and lifestyle my partner and I have, I’m able to steel myself.

        • savannnah

          I totally understand this viewpoint as well. My fiance has a surprise nazi uncle and I would have liked to get a heads up on that before meeting him…

    • sofar

      I feel you on the cultural expectations. Oi.

      My husband and I trust each other to set boundaries with our respective parents. If we suspect one of our family members is going to say something dumb TO the person directly, we’ll give a heads-up. For example, “Hey sweetie my mom/dad was grinding the axe about such-and-such multiple times this weekend and I suspect they may say something about it to you, even though I told them not to! Heads up!”

  • A.

    I would hate being in a relationship where nothing was private. I talk to my friends and sister about some things in my relationship–that ranges from minor annoyances that I need to briefly vent about, to larger picture stuff, both good and bad. Most of it also comes up with my wife, but in a different context and put differently, and I wouldn’t want her listening to a conversation or reading a text/email with someone else about it. Most of the time, I don’t know what she talks about with her therapist, and I don’t always tell her about mine either. I don’t feel like I have the right to know all of that–she’s more than entitled to her own space to sort stuff out.

    Also small things. Just the other day, I’d sat down for a moment and the cat settled in my lap. The only reading material within reach was my wife’s kindle. I did consider picking it up and finding something in it to read, but I didn’t. Yes, we share our libraries on Amazon, but there’s also an option to turn that off for specific books. Sometimes I don’t feel like explaining to her why I might be reading something, and I figure she deserves the same. So I left her kindle alone. She has the password to my phone, and occasionally uses it when I ask her to look something up or pause the music or whatever. But I’d be pretty upset if she used it to just poke around at other stuff on my phone.

    So I guess there are two types of “secrets”; there are the things I actively don’t want her to see (like, if I’m talking to a friend about relationship stuff), and then there are the times when I don’t care that much, but would rather just keep it to myself (like, why there are ten photos of the back of my head on my phone, it’s because I couldn’t see my hairdo from the front, and I could explain but I don’t want to have to).

    On balance, I care about the things that affect both of us, and I think that information should be shared. And I certainly want to share other things, too, because that’s what makes for emotional intimacy–I want to know how her day was, often I want to talk about what she’s been reading or what I’ve been reading, etc, but I don’t think that all of that stuff has to be shared. Example: If either of us is making a major financial decision, that should be discussed, definitely should not be kept a secret. On the other hand, if she wants to go out for lunch, I don’t think she needs to tell me. Even if it’s junk food. But, if she’s eating junk food for lunch every day, that has longer-term health implications, and is something I’d like to know. So I guess I’m calling for selective honesty about the small things, and generally full honesty about the big things.

    I think we both get private spheres to have conversations about the big things with other people, but most of the stuff that comes up there I would hope also comes up with each other in another conversation. Maybe there’s some distinction to be made between private and secret.

    • Ashlah

      Ha, I love your hairdo photos example. I always get embarrassed when he sees selfies on my phone, even though I have no reason to (I mean he does it too!). They just feel so private!

      • NolaJael

        Same.

  • K.

    Oh, and another good example? I wouldn’t be thrilled if my husband suddenly had access to all of my APW comments and could read them all (it’s actually partially why I’ve never created an account). Not because he’d have an issue with anything I say here, at all, but because it feels like *mine,* you know?

    I feel the same way about my Reddit account, which I use to chat with other pregnant ladies. I’m extra paranoid about that and would never tell him my handle. Again, I don’t post anything that he doesn’t already know and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he stumbled on it, but it’s just a space that I’ve carved out for myself and I like that I have a means of expressing myself that’s wholly individual.

    • Ashlah

      Same same same. I really value having an anonymous online presence, a place to express myself that isn’t beholden to anyone I know in real life.

    • BSM

      Same! It was super weird for awhile when my husband started following me on Twitter during/in the aftermath of the election. I eventually got used to him liking and retweeting some of my stuff, but I definitely kind of missed my online anonymity at first.

      • CMT

        I accidentally divulged a friend’s Twitter handle to his girlfriend (I had no idea she didn’t know) and it was a borderline big deal for him! There was absolutely nothing there that had anything to do with their relationship or would have been scandalous at all, but he just liked having an anonymous place to tweet about politics.

        • BSM

          Totally! My husband and I are like 98% in agreement wrt to politics, so I literally say the exact same things to him in person that I tweet, but it just felt different/weird.

  • Honey Boo

    Huh, I am really not sure where I fall on this. For one thing, I did a fair amount of both innocuous and problematic lying in my growing up years, for a variety of (self-preservation) reasons. When I got with my hubs, early on in our relationship, I found I could – and wanted to – be totally honest with him about everything. It was a big deal to me that I could, and that I could practice total honesty. It is a very special thing that we share. I have worked hard to maintain it from the get-go.

    The only areas I have held back include kinda gross details of bodily functions, random dudes who i think are hot (though if it comes up I’ll be straightforward), and one case where I had some weird feelings about another guy and needed to process them safely without alarming him. And even those I sometimes feel guilty about not sharing. I am an open book to him; that is intimacy to me. It never occurred to me to generally hide a) what I’m reading, b) searches on my phone, c) emails i send or receive, or d) conversations I have with friends. I can think of only a few examples where i said things to others or searched things i’d rather he not find on his own (over 13 years), and in those cases it’s mostly because I’d prefer to give him context before he find out. Why would I be talking shit about him to a friend to the point where if he heard it he couldn’t just laugh at me? If things are that bad, doesn’t he deserve to know?

    So that’s where I am. I am super here for everyone else’s thoughts, especially those who disagree! What am I missing??

    • Cleo

      For me, it’s not about hiding, it’s about not wanting to explain every detail of my life.

      I’m a writer, so if someone would look at my search history, they’d find everything from “history of Hindu religion” to “best way to hide a body” to “best value vibrator” to “most popular restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio.” Some of those are for books, some are for personal use, some are for curiosity. Do I want to explain my bizarre search history? No. Not really. I don’t like talking about writing projects while I’m in the middle of them and sometimes there’s no good reason for a search.

      Would I want an SO to search through my Kindle and know how many romance novels I read regularly? Not really. Partially because I feel like I’ve been going overboard on them and am embarrassed about it, but also, I love them and don’t want to have a conversation justifying my love for them (this is where it ALWAYS goes).

      This isn’t to say that I don’t answer truthfully when I’m asked direct questions, but I feel privacy preserves my sense of individuality. Without privacy, I would be constantly filtering my life through the lens of “What would SO think of that?” even if the “that” is as trivial as searching for a specific type of grocery store. And that filtering is the exhausting part.

      • Honey Boo

        Yeah, the filtering is what I’m getting as the point of the private spaces. And of course, after reading all those, I remember – oh yeah, I have a journal (again, private but not off limits if needed), a therapist, etc. etc. I just can’t really imagine my partner NOT giving me privacy on those things, so I guess I don’t feel the need to stake it out. Also, I am not aware of major filtering of myself that I do for my partner, and besides – I’d rather push myself to not filter than to “hide,” since, as I said, there was a time in my life that I filtered everything and lost authenticity because of it.

      • rg223

        Ahh, not totally related to this post, but solidarity on the “writer google problem”! I’ve written everything from YA genre to preschool television to lingerie advertising, so my search history is VERY interesting.

        • Angela’s Back

          also totally not related but I also read the shit out of terrible romance novels and am slightly embarrassed by it, so high five us :)

          • Don’t get suckered into romance novel shame! They are, after all, novels by women, for women, that prioritise the journeys of women, so of course the male literary establishment gets all squirmy and uncomfortable about them being the most popular genre in the world. Romance, it’s a feminist issue :)

          • Cellistec

            APW post on this topic, okplsthx.

          • I definitely have feels and thoughts, but I also have to credit Smart Bitches Trashy Books for helping me develop them, and also for making my wallet so much emptier.

          • Sarah E

            Thanks for the SBTB rec, that looks like a fun new site to churn through :-)

          • Cleo

            Preach!

            I’m working on working out my shame! For the first time in my life, I’ve put my collection of paperback romance novels in plain sight, on my bookshelves, next to all my other books, instead of hiding them in my nightstand drawer. :)

            And Smart Bitches Trashy Books is the BEST. They’re the reason I started reading Jennifer Crusie (I want to turn Bet Me into a movie!!).

            I also have dreams of optioning Jay Crownover’s Marked Men and Saints of Denver series for a TV show (they’re technically new adult, but very much romance and lots of sexy tattooed guys and gals getting it on).

          • Angela’s Back

            Ugh, I know this to be true intellectually and yet… guess I better keep reading till I get over it, ha.

          • Cleo

            High five!

        • Cellistec

          Ah, I miss the good old pre-internet days when I had to fact-find for my middle school fiction by running into the TV room and asking my parents things like “What’s something you can die of slowly, but not too slowly?” and “What do you call someone who worships the devil?” No browser history involved! So elegant!

          • rg223

            I now feel a deep connection to you because I can answer both of those questions and have probably used them in a story once or twice!

          • Cellistec

            AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          • Cellistec

            Well in that case I should add that the answers I got were “a staph infection” and “a Faustian,” respectively. And I duly rolled with them.

        • Cleo

          Solidarity! I have a feeling your search history is way more fun/interesting than mine :)

      • Natalie

        “Would I want an SO to search through my Kindle and know how many romance novels I read regularly? Not really.”

        This. Except hubs & I share an amazon account so that we both can have access to books the other buys, so he *does* see how many romance novels I read regularly and then makes fun of me for it. Which was annoying, but now is fine, as the novelty of teasing me about them has worn off.

        • A.

          You may not need this, but one can share libraries between two accounts; depending on how you set it up, that means that you can either choose to share specific books, or you can automatically share everything unless you choose not to for a specific title. It’s a really nice feature that I didn’t know about for a while.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      I’ve been in relationships where I didn’t share parts of myself because I knew they would be attacked or rejected or used against me. I’ve been in a position where I did something stupid and wasn’t forthright about it, because I knew it was a hurtful and it’s hard to tell someone you love that you fucked up, and that felt awful. I choose now to be in a relationship where I don’t have to hide anything. Sometimes weird, uncomfortable things come up, because that’s life, but we talk it out. I don’t want to have any major secrets. We are both pretty private people, but I think that having privacy is not the same thing as hiding something important, as others are discussing elsewhere.

      • NolaJael

        Agreed. I had a hard time realizing that a lot of what I thought was “privacy” in my relationship was really more akin to insecurity. Like I’d have a separate Netflix profile because I didn’t want my then-boyfriend-now-husband to automatically know how much time I’d spent binge watching New Girl (or whatever) because I thought it made me look like a lazy bum rather than someone who was up being productive! and creative! on the weekends. Being open about my weird google searches or shitty TV habits is part of my partner seeing me as a whole person. (Which I think is different than things you are actively processing, like Meg’s journals in the previous post.)

      • Sarah

        Early in my relationship I was a “white lies never hurt anyone” believer, and my (now) fiance was a “total honesty or I’m gone” person. We ended up in a happy zone of what I like to call a “soft place to land.” We agree to be really honest, even in cases a white lie would be easier “No, I haven’t gotten to that task you asked for yet, I was bingeing on netflix.” In return, the other person has to provide an environment that answer feels safe. I don’t need to hide what I’m reading because he won’t tease me.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          Right. Create a safe space for honesty.

        • Honey Boo

          This x 100. Safe space to share is critical. The teasing I mentioned above is only on really truly white lies – I tend to fudge prices by $5, which at this point we both think is hilarious. 13 years in, that’s us.

    • Jess

      If I may ask, how do you practice honesty?

      I too grew up lying for both self-preservation and other reasons. I still feel a lot of anxiety about sharing major problems that come up, and although I usually get around to sharing them, it’s under a lot of duress and after I’ve done a lot of processing.

      I’d like to feel less… awful before I share something bad/unflattering.

      • Honey Boo

        When I have the impulse to hide something, I fight it, be brave and let him know I have something hard/scary to share. I’m usually kind of awkward (teary, halting) about sharing those things, but I figure better shared awkwardly, and he can say – yeah cool no biggie – than left to fester in my mind. I also have told him that this is an issue for me, and that I want to be honest, and it’s scary. At this point it’s a joke between us when I am tempted to lie – and I’ll tell him the lie I was going to tell and then tell him the truth. Or he’ll tease me gently about – is that the real truth? Usually that’s about how much something cost.

        I still kinda feel awful when I share something bad, but I try to resist the urge to retract or withdraw… and let him know that I might need some reassurance. He’s good at responding calmly to that, so it works well for us.

        • Jess

          Thank you for your response!

          I feel like this is something totally usable for me: “At this point it’s a joke between us when I am tempted to lie – and I’ll tell him the lie I was going to tell and then tell him the truth.”

          That’s something I could do because it gets rid of some of the shame in lying as an impulse, while still acknowledging that it’s there. Kind of a gateway into saying the real thing – “I want to tell you it’s X, but I really know that it’s Y.”

  • Abs

    I feel like there’s a big difference between being able to tell your partner anything and telling them everything. Like, there are some things that I keep private (finding other people attractive, conversations with my family, what I google), but if there was some reason that it felt important to me or to him for us to talk about any of those things, we could. That doesn’t mean that we have to talk about those things, or that my partner should have automatic access to that information.

    It’s also probably healthy to be on the same page about what you do and don’t share–I knew a guy in college who said that he and his girlfriend had a “tacit agreement” to be in an open relationship.

  • *shhhhhh

    My husband and I were discussing this recently and I think the distinction for us is privacy vs. secrecy. Looking back at the article Meg wrote, she talks about how her spending money is secret. I would classify that as private for us. We have an agreed amount of money we are allowed to do with as we please, and how we spend that is our own business. Secret feels … sneaky. It may just be semantics, but I like how it sits better. Our personal histories are private; we can share them if we want, but if we don’t need to divulge details. Conversations with friends are private. We are entitled to privacy.

    • *shhhhhh

      (i see someone already brought this up! Woops!)

    • Vanessa

      I agree especially regarding spending. I think the idea of “secret” spending is, at best, deeply problematic. I grew up in a house where my mom hid purchases from my dad, and it contributed to a lot of unhealthy financial habits for me. I’ve spent a lot of time working through that in my own life, and in my relationship. I don’t account for every dollar I spend in my relationship, but if I feel the need to hide spending, that’s a clear signal to me that something is not right. I’m not saying all couples should have shared accounts, but I’m skeptical of “secret” spending.

  • Anon

    Other people’s secrets are big thing for me. My best friends and family members share their own secrets with me, and there’s an expectation that I won’t tell anyone including my husband. Like, my husband doesn’t need to know that my best friend had an abortion. If my friend wants to share that information with him, I obviously totally support that. But it’s not mine to share unless she gives me express permission.

    My husband actually disagrees with this policy because he uses me to “dump out” ( http://progressingincircles.blogspot.com/2013/04/comfort-in-dump-out.html ) his own feelings about things sometimes (extreme e.g., he told me about a family member’s rape because he was so upset about it and needed help processing it. I would never breathe a word and I understood my husband’s need to talk about it, but I still feel very weird that I know about it).

    He knows my policy for my loved ones and respects it though, so it’s not about “we’re husband and wife, we must share everything!!” but rather different needs for handling information.

    • Ashlah

      That’s really interesting! If I tell someone a secret, I definitely assume they’re going to tell their spouse, unless I specifically tell them not to. And obviously that’s probably because that’s how we tend to operate. I have no trouble keeping secrets generally, but my spouse feels like an exception…but I know not everyone feels the same way.

      • Kalë

        I’m this way, too! The most important part for us is that anything told in confidence, absolutely, 100%, always stays just between the two of us, regardless of if it’s ours or someone else’s.

      • Natalie

        Yeah, I also assume that anything said to one partner might be passed on to the other. That being said, for something that’s told to me in confidence, I usually ask “can I tell Husband about this, or should I keep it to myself?” Mostly because my husband, bless his heart, is so honest and so bad at deception that he can’t keep a secret to save his life. One of his simultaneously sweet and annoying Aspie traits.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      The sharing thing happens. If I ever have something I don’t want my besties to share with their spouses, I specifically say so. Otherwise, I assume that if I confide in one of them, there’s a good chance their dude probably knows about it.

      • NolaJael

        If one of my husband’s friends starts a conversations with “You can’t tell NolaJael this…” my husband always says, “I can’t promise that.” But he doesn’t like to hear people’s secrets in general, so he’s liable to use any deterrent that works. ;)

    • MrsRalphWaldo

      We always view each other as an exception to “don’t tell anyone” situations, but we also have similar friend groups and everyone in our immediate circle knows that we share secrets. My general rule of thumb is that I don’t feel the need to tell my husband every detail of my life, but I will never purposefully keep things from him.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        We view each other as an exception for precisely the opposite reason–there is essentially zero overlap between our social circles, so we can both tell one another things about a friend, and it basically be the same as talking to a wall! There’s no risk of judgment or anything getting out, because we literally could not care less about what the other person’s friend did or didn’t do!

    • The keeping of friends’ secrets thing just came up recently in our marriage. My husband’s friends are now my friends, and he wouldn’t divulge something that was told to him in confidence. At first i was all “but I’m your wife!” but when I thought about it, I realized he was right. Being married doesn’t suddenly take away his duty to be loyal to his friend and keep their confidences.

    • Jess

      The concept of keeping other people’s secrets is something we’ve come up with a lot. Like, R will take somebody’s secret to the actual grave. He rejects gossip completely.

      I tell R if it’s something that affects him or, like you said, to dump out if I’m a main support for someone. If I’m dumping out, I usually clear that I’m going to talk to R about it with the person first.

      He was aghast when I told him a friend of ours who was going out with was having some marriage trouble, which was relevant because said friend was staying at our place that night to not drive, and I didn’t want R to be caught off guard if he brought it up. (Friend had said I should tell R.)

    • April

      Huh. I’ve been pretty clear with all of my close friends that they can’t assume I won’t tell my partner something. It’s not that I feel like he NEEDS to know everything and I don’t tell him everything ever, but it makes our relationship run a lot smoother if he knows what’s going on with me and why I’m happy about x or upset about y.

  • Cellistec

    I keep a journal; have since I was like 7. When I was dating my now-husband, he asked if he could read my journal sometime. I said no, not ever, because it’s a private place to record my thoughts. He said he wasn’t trying to violate my privacy; he just wanted to understand me better. Because I play my cards close to the vest, he sometimes has a hard time getting information out of me. (Whereas I sometimes have a hard time stopping the flow of information from him.) I’m still trying to feel out the line between privacy and intimacy. Bringing up the topic of this post with my husband will be an interesting discussion.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I keep a journal too, and like yours, it’s private. I have shown my husband a few pages in the past, or read from it, when I felt like I wanted him to understand something specific about me. It’s usually open on my desk. I trust him not to look. And usually it’s so boring that no one, including my husband, would want to read it anyway. Sometimes my husband says things about it that makes it seem like he almost resents it–he seems to see it as a place where I nurse grievances and record everything so that I always have ammunition against him in fights, or something like that. Or at least he talks that way about it when we’re already in a fight. Otherwise he mostly ignores it.

    • Ashlah

      Oh my god, I about had a panic attack at the thought of it! My husband has easy physical access to my old journals, but I trust that he respects that they’re private. He also knows that I vent about him in my journal sometimes in a way that would not be constructive in real life, so it’s really best for him not to read it.

    • AP

      “…he sometimes has a hard time getting information out of me. (Whereas I sometimes have a hard time stopping the flow of information from him.)”

      This is us, in reverse! It’s an interesting dynamic that has taken me a while to learn to navigate.

    • Abby

      Oh journals are definitely private. My husband sometimes lurks curiously when I’m writing, but I’ve found it helps to explain that (especially when I’m upset) I journal in order to sort out my jumble of thoughts for myself so I can better explain it (to him). It’s not that I’m keeping the content from him, it’s just that I need a space to think it out in words before having the underlying emotions exposed to questioning. And sometimes that results in me reading him what I’ve written, but most of the time just lets me talk more openly afterwards.

    • MTM

      Meg mentioned journals in her article too. What do y’all want to happen to your journals when you die?

      • Ella

        Good question! When my nanna died my mum read one of her old diaries (journals.) Afterwards, I destroyed all of mine in case anybody read them when I died. (I was a teenager so whatever was written in them was probably incredibly embarrassing at the time and laughably banal in hindsight.)

      • Cellistec

        Yikes, that’s a question. There are about 70 volumes so far, and I can’t say I’d want any of my descendants to store them for posterity, so…maybe read once by anyone who has the time and interest, and then…burned? Though my mom is currently transcribing the journals of a distant ancestor and we find them fascinating, so if someone wanted to transcribe them into a digital format I probably wouldn’t mind. I mean, I’d be dead, so I wouldn’t mind anything at that point, but you know.

    • AGCourtney

      I journal, too, and those are definitely private. I don’t think my husband has ever considered asking. Journals, however, are the one place where my terrible handwriting comes in handy. I write to untangle the jumble of thoughts in my head, so I write fast. The handwriting is its own protection – no one can read it, haha.

      • Cellistec

        Ha, good point! Mine is getting less legible as I age, which may also be its own protection.

  • Katherine

    I’m guessing I’m in the minority in this one, but we are that couple that doesn’t have secrets. The long-term relationship I was in before my marriage fell apart due to secrets and lies, and so I approached my relationship with my now-husband with the mentality of being as open as possible. His previous relationship ended due to a complete lack of communication, so he operates in a similar way. We tell each other when we find other people attractive, we discuss all purchases – even if that just means later saying ‘hey I bought X’ – and we know all of each others’ passwords. We’re also very honest with each other about how each family member feels about the other person, and I could care less if he sees something I’ve posted about him on here.

    That being said, I think the distinction between secrecy and privacy is a good one. Just because we know each others’ passwords doesn’t mean I go looking through his emails or his stuff. I don’t listen in on his phone calls or check his phone, and we don’t constantly keep tabs on what the other is doing. We share constantly, but operate independently. I also get that this is a pretty uncommon dynamic, but we’ve found that this dynamic is what works best for us.

    • Anon For This

      Yeah, openness with accounts and honesty about whereabouts is part of how my husband processes and distinguishes himself from the hurt and pain caused by his father’s sneaking around, infidelity and eventual divorce. My husband has multiple times stated that he believes it’s my “right” as his wife to know where he his and promises me that he will always answer his phone if he is able. Personally, I don’t need that from him, but I know it’s important to him to say it. He is committed to our relationship and his way of showing it is to forego his own privacy. But since I trust him, I don’t feel the need to read his emails or whatever. It works for us.

    • emmers

      We’re more or less like this. We mostly know each others’ account passwords, but we also don’t snoop. It’s like openness + trust + giving each other our space.

    • Lisa

      I’m with you @disqus_g3sOvqVuAA:disqus. While I respect that every person has a different comfort level with sharing and privacy, my partner and I are open books with each other. I’m actually a very private person in general, so if my marriage isn’t a safe space then it doesn’t exist anywhere. The only issue we have with being so open with each other is respecting each other’s privacy when talking to people outside of our relationships. My partner’s stories are his to tell, and vice versa. If there is any question as to whether the information he shared with me is public or private, I keep it to myself (and would expect the same of him). That applies to IRL conversations and online spaces.

      • Katherine

        Yes, we operate very similarly! While I wouldn’t call us private people, we are both introverted and can be shy around others, so our marriage is very much a share-all safe space. If there’s something that I have pause about sharing, I’ll ask my husband about it first.

    • Natalie

      THIS. My husband and I know each others’ phone and computer passwords, but we don’t use each others’ devices without asking. We don’t read each others’ emails or texts (except when we want to recount a conversation and it’s easier just to have the other read the text series than explain). We don’t keep secrets, but we do respect each others’ privacy.

      Like you, we tell each other when we find other people attractive. We’re honest and open about our feelings and desires. I would not be weirded out at all to have him read all my Disqus account’s comments – in my mind this is public, not private space.

  • Diverkat

    Personally, I think every relationship is different, and everyone has their own level of privacy they’d like to keep. I’ve been in healthy relationships where some things were not disclosed (because one party or the other were not interested or didn’t want to know some things), and now in my current relationship, I can’t think of anything that we don’t talk about. I think you can be honest in a relationship without disclosing every little thing – I don’t need to discuss toilet visits in exacting details, for example – and still expect to have privacy.

    I’m totally with @Violet8315:disqus upthread in differentiating between secrets and privacy. And for me, it’s probably the difference between withholding information that may have an impact on your relationship (secrets) to peeing with the bathroom door closed (privacy). The latter is not relevant at all to your relationship, unless peeing with the door open is something you or your partner insists on, I guess. Never met anyone like that though :)

  • K

    My VEGAN husband eats POUND CAKE at Starbucks because … it’s probably vegan, right? I look the other way and keep my mouth shut. I think the secret to a happy marriage is to let each other believe in our own little delusions.

    • K.

      My vegetarian SIL was *so* mad at her longterm boyfriend when he pretty smugly told her that a bunch of her favorite cheese had animal rennet in it. She stopped eating it, but I think a big part of her would have preferred to have her delusion humored!

    • NolaJael

      That is true love.

    • Gaby

      This is related but kind of opposite: my ex lied to me about an allergy to chocolate for years and I only found out because I mentioned it in passing and his mom laughed loudly and said “hating the taste of something does not count as an allergy!” I was PISSED haha.

  • Gaby

    Had a pretty good example of that secrecy vs privacy example with my husband recently. He has talked about an interest in bitcoin in the past and we make jokes about it from time to time. He’s a computer guy an uses the PC in our house much more than I do, so his e-mail is usually logged in when I get on. I noticed he had some emails with bitcoin in the subject but did not open them and finally asked him about it directly after it happened several times. He said that he had slowly, over several months, invested upwards of $1k and that it was going well and he had a few hundred dollars in profit so far. I was VERY hurt and he said that he did not feel that he had had been secretive and just thought I was not interested in it. I told him that it felt secretive because he had several opportunities in those months to inform me and he chose not to every time. He understood where I was coming from and I think it has set a boundary that was not clearly set in our relationship before.

    • BSM

      Woah, yeah. I also just feel like money can be kind of a separate topic when it comes to the secrecy vs. privacy conversation. My husband and I always discuss (not for permission, more awareness and the fact that that kind of thing just comes up) if we’re planning on buying something around the $100 mark or more.

      • Gaby

        Definitely! We usually do always discuss larger purchases at length, I think he thought he was getting away with it because it wasn’t* one a big sum he spent all at once. But I know he knows he was not being truthful because we also text each other updates on our checking and savings combos on our paydays and there was never an “I’m also up $500 on bitcoin!” text included.

    • Cellistec

      What. That would be a Serious Discussion in our house too. I’m a private person, but even I think privacy rights stop where dollar signs begin. Maybe the Bitcoin episode is a good chance to have the secrecy conversation while the cost is relatively low.

      • Gaby

        Yeah it really wasn’t a long conversation but it was pretty direct. I would have never tried to stop him from doing it because I know he researches things at length and would trust him to be reasonable, but that is exactly why it’s hurtful that he felt the need to hide it. He’s done it with his own extra expense money and has kept saving a healthy amount per check and manages other finances well and it’s just unhealthy to not be open about that kinda thing. I’m happy with how it went overall for our first big discussion since marriage.

  • I’m not sure how I feel about the idea that ignorance can be good for you, especially when someone else is controlling that ignorance. Keeping secrets for someone else’s own good, unless they’ve specifically asked you to, feels disrespectful of their agency. I’m pro privacy – I would be upset if J started going through all my social media to monitor my activity when if he asked I’d tell him anything relevant – but secrecy has an emotional component that involves making choices on someone else’s behalf for your own benefit. If you feel guilty for not sharing something, it’s usually a hint you should tell them.

    • Sarah E

      “Privacy can only exist where secrecy doesn’t, I think- privacy is an outcome of trust, while secrecy undermines trust.”

      I really think you’ve touched on possibly the most important part– trust– that I haven’t seen (at least, explicitly) in scrolling through the rest of the comments. Those who equate intimacy with openness are saying the same type of things (“we just trust each other!”). That’s what’s going through my head as I read this, too. I mean, I talk a lot and tell my spouse just about anything and everything, depending on who else I’ve had the opportunity to connect with that day, and what you said rings so true. The squick that I feel in this discussion is that most folks, including Stephanie, seem to be talking about intimacy, openess, and privacy whereas the conversation is framed around secrets and honesty. The conflation of those two points has me thrown off.

    • Ella

      “Privacy can only exist where secrecy doesn’t, I think – privacy is an outcome of trust, while secrecy undermines trust.” I definitely get what you’re saying here, but I don’t think all secrets undermine trust. I think I could say any of the following to my partner (and vice versa) and it wouldn’t undermine trust:
      I can’t tell you, it’s someone else’s secret / they asked me not to tell you / etc.
      It’s something I’m still working through and will talk to you about it once I’ve processed it
      I have inconsequential feelings about someone else and you don’t need to be worried
      I’m [feeling a particular way] and need space but everything is fine between us

      Therefore since I know I could tell him I have a certain secret, I don’t feel guilty just not telling him at all. Personally I would rather not know there was anything to tell in all of the above cases except the last one. I’ve told him this – so I guess that’s me exercising my agency before the fact in choosing not to know.

      I think secrets undermine trust if based on any of the following:
      I did something bad and I don’t want you to judge me / get mad / break up with me
      I’m withholding information that counters an assumption you have
      I’m hiding something important about myself (with the exception of something you’re currently working through in counselling etc.)

      • I think we may define secret differently. For me, a secret is a piece of information I’m making a decision to never share deliberately, where the information would affect the person I’m keeping it from or my relationship with them. So if it’s something I’m processing, that’s not a secret because I will tell the person once I’m ready. If being attracted to someone has no affect on your relationship, it’s not a secret, but if you’re breaking dates with your partner to hang out with your crush it does, and not sharing why you’re doing so is a secret. If I need space, that’s not a secret unless I’m lying about why I’m taking space.

        Other people’s secrets are a harder space to negotiate, because you need to balance maintaining the trust in two relationships. Sharing someone else’s secret without their permission takes away their agency over that information. If someone asked me not to tell J a secret, it would depend for me on whether that secret affected him, and whether you’re planning to tell him yourself if it does. If it’s that you’re having issues in your own relationship, I will keep that from J. If it’s a secret your relationships issues are that you’re cheating on your partner with J’s brother, I think I would feel obliged to tell him (though that probably as “I’ve had a conversation with X, and I think you really need to talk to your brother – I don’t feel it’s my place to elaborate right now, though”). In situations where keeping the secret denies one person agency and telling it remove the other person’s (I’m thinking if you have a relationship with both members of a couple and know that one is cheating) then you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, and that’s a horrible situation to be stuck in.

        • Ella

          Yes, we define secret differently. I don’t think the information has to affect the person/people I’m keeping it from, or my relationship with them, to be a secret.
          Based on your definition and examples, I agree with everything you’ve said.

    • April

      “Privacy can only exist where secrecy doesn’t, I think – privacy is an outcome of trust, while secrecy undermines trust.”

      YES I like this a lot. I’ve mentioned above that parter and I discuss most things and don’t keep things from each other intentionally. We have total honesty all the time, even if it might hurt the other persons feelings. And if someones feelings get hurt, that gets shared too. We don’t keep secrets and I feel like that openness is what allows us the trust in our relationship to not ever share passwords, have our own friends etc. We each have our own social media, our own online lives, our own password protected phones and laptops.

  • Pingback: Is Total Honesty Really the Best Thing for a Relationship? | Wedding Adviser()

  • JLily

    I agree a lot with Meg’s old post on this. My husband I are super open and honest with each other, but there are certain things he just doesn’t need to know about, like who (irl) I find attractive or my Sephora purchases. We do have the most honest and non-secretive relationship out of any I have had in my life, and I like it that way. We share passwords when needed, we can get into each others phones and its not off-limits to check the other person’s emails or texts. I have to delete, say, confirmation emails if I get him a gift or something, but other than that its not a big deal. We are really open with um, bodily functions, which I have never had in a relationship and it really comes in handy when one of us is sick. Its not off limits to discuss weight gain or unhealthy habits. We discuss almost everything (although I also don’t disclose certain things from conversations with friends). I don’t feel that it takes away from our independence or from our individual personhood, and for us, it builds intimacy.

  • Susannekcaballero

    Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj195d:
    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    !mj195d:
    ➽➽
    ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash195DirectServicesGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj195d:….,….

  • SecretiveAnon

    I’d probably sound weird but in my marriage I’m the one who keeps most secrets (at least, I suppose so). Not because I love lying or I don’t love my husband, but because… I’m a person with wild imagination and I kinda regret getting married young. While I love my husband and think he’s the best match for me, I like to imagine there’s a whole other life where there’s a whole other me falling in love with different people, dreaming wild dreams, etc.

    Please note that it does not mean I don’t love my husband or dream of cheating on him with other people. I’ve never been unfaithful to him, I share my most profound and deep thoughts with him, I support him and vice versa. But these imagined things I pour into fictional stories, and yes, I’m pretty sure these “secrets” is what makes my marriage work.

    • NotMotherTheresa

      Oh my gosh, not weird at all!

      My husband is four years older than me. That’s not a big age difference at all, but in some ways, for us, it is…at least, in the context of when we met. I was 18. He was 22. We were both young, but what even he sometimes forgets is that he had a taste of “adulthood” before he met me. He got to date other girls. He got to have casual hookups. He got to find out at least a little about what he did and didn’t like in a partner. I…didn’t really get to do any of that. We met my second week of college. By my fourth week of college, we were a serious couple. The full extent of my romantic experience prior to meeting him consisted of going on a date to Olive Garden before prom and making out in suburban basements with one of the two boyfriends I had over the course of my high school career.

      I don’t regret marrying my husband, but honestly, I hate that I was so young when I met him. Sometimes, I really, really wish I could have met him at least a year or so later, because I feel like I missed out on so much. If I didn’t channel some of that frustration and sadness into imagining a different life, we’d both be miserable in our marriage. As it is, my imaginary escapes keep me happy, and help me properly love and support him, instead of spending my time angry about things that aren’t his fault.

  • Pingback: Link love (the all-the-feels edition) - NZ Muse()