Being open doesn’t mean full disclosure

Saturday October 6 2018

By Chris Hart

Do you tell your spouse everything? Or feel you need to keep some things to yourself, even though you’ve nothing to hide?

But aren’t we supposed to be completely open and honest in a modern marriage? So why this need to keep some things private? It’s because being open’s not quite the same as telling each other everything.

That’s especially true at the beginning. So if you start telling your new boyfriend everything that goes through your mind — like what a great father you think he’ll be — chances are you’ll never see him again! Early in a relationship, disclosure has to be gradual.

So to begin with, whenever your date discloses something small — like what sort of food they like — you should straight away reveal something similar about yourself.

Perhaps up the ante a little by describing something slightly more personal. If things are going well, your date will raise the stakes a bit more in return. Neither of you getting too far ahead, nor lagging behind.

Early on you probably only feel comfortable revealing things that show you in a good light. But eventually you pluck up the courage to start revealing your true self.

So you’d think from then on you’d stop editing your conversations. But it doesn’t work like that. Like you’ll probably still avoid topics that your partner gives you a hard time about.

Discretion is a good idea

But it is good to be able to talk about anything with your spouse, no matter how difficult the subject. Though that’s a relatively modern concept. One that would have sounded quite odd to our grandparents.

And they did have a point. Discretion’s still a good idea, and some topics are best left alone. Discussing everything isn’t always honest or intimate, it can also feel intrusive or controlling.

Your thoughts about his mother might feel interesting to you, for example, but ask yourself how they might sound to him.

You’ll also only be completely honest if you’re both good listeners. And avoid judging and criticising one another.

So you’ll have to work at being open. Like it’s tempting to keep your finances to yourself. But marriages work much better if you both disclose everything.

No secret income, spending or investments. You should also learn to express your feelings clearly. Because the better you explain to your partner what’s bothering you, the more they’ll be able to help you through it.

Being open and honest is also the best way to stay faithful to one another. Like talking about how you spent your day, who you met and what you said, means that you’ll trust one another.

And knowing that you’re going to tell your spouse everything helps you define where your boundaries are. Like if you realise you can’t repeat something you just said, then you know you’ve crossed a line.

Being completely open and honest with your spouse is also a truly wonderful feeling. So you’re missing one of the best things about marriage if you’re not.

NB: The Pub will be back next week

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