Is Total Honesty Really the Best Thing for a Relationship?

They don't need to know EVERYTHING

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:

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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?

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