Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

secretI was in the grocery store and the tabloids were headlining the secret love child of yet another celebrity couple. Secrets are a problem. They don’t usually end well.

I am often asked if it is a good idea to reveal secrets to a partner or a friend. The answer to this begins with a question. How does it feel to find out a secret after the fact? For instance, do you really want to be surprised with a secret ten years into a marriage, especially one that may have impacted your decision to marry in the first place? Or do you want to hear about something very personal from a stranger in a public place? Revealed secrets become gossip fodder in the wrong hands.

In my experience as a relationship therapist, keeping secrets usually backfires. Yes, secrets are difficult to bring out into the light, but keeping them sets the stage for heartache down the road. The hidden thing often surfaces later. Then the reaction is even more intense because now it is associated with dishonesty. Dishonesty makes the impact worse.

We keep secrets for all kinds of reasons. We may be afraid of disapproval. We may want to protect someone from hurt, or we may worry about their reaction. While you don’t have to reveal every thought in your head, keeping secrets about important issues is not recommended. Self-disclosure actually helps relationships and builds intimacy.

In our tell-all culture, where privacy is seriously lacking, discretion is needed. Be wise. Talk to the people involved in your secret, work on repair, and then carefully pray about whether or not this is something that needs to be shared with others.

Except from We Need to Talk by Dr. Linda Mintle (Baker Books)

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