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Couples Counseling: Secrecy vs. Privacy- What is the Difference?
Couples Counseling: The Difference Between Secrecy and Privacy
Secrets are a common problem that couples confront in counseling. Odds are you have had an experience where you discovered something about your partner that you didn’t know. If you can relate, you are not alone. Poor communication skills and closely guarded secrets may lead to conflict and a loss of trust in your marriage. (Related article: How Secrecy Fuels Pornography Addiction).
But, you might ask, does that mean I have to tell my spouse every single thing? Do you need to share every thought, frustration, concern, and mistake with your partner? And if you don’t, are you being secretive?
Today, we will talk about the difference between secrecy and privacy in marriage. You will learn how to distinguish between the two. Then, you will learn how couples counseling can help you and your partner improve your communication and avoid keeping secrets from each other.
Secrecy Vs. Privacy
You might have heard the idea that you and your spouse should share absolutely everything with each other. And while open, healthy communication is ideal, that doesn’t mean that there should be no personal privacy in marriage. (Related article: How Much Relationship Privacy Do You Need?)
Maintaining Your Privacy
So, what is the difference between a secret and something that you keep private? The major difference between the two is honesty.
Something private can be reasonably kept to yourself without hurting your partner, violating their trust, or deliberately hiding an important aspect of your life. A great example of healthy privacy in your marriage might be that you and your spouse both keep a regular journal. You probably know it is inappropriate to read your spouse’s journal without their permission. And you expect that your spouse will not read your diary without your permission, either. (Related article: How to Build Trust).
This is a boundary that is reasonable, and does not actively hurt you or your partner. In fact, this example of privacy is a great way to maintain trust in your relationship.
Now, let’s talk about what a secret might look like in your marriage. A secret is different from just something private because it is dishonest. A secret is something deliberately hidden from your partner. And, a secret is usually something that could hurt the trust that has been built between you and your partner, if it were to be revealed. Additionally, a secret might be something that is important information that could negatively affect your spouse’s life and decision making ability.
For instance, you may decide to hide your credit card debt from your spouse. Maybe you decided to keep this secret because you were worried that your spouse would be hurt or upset about the substantial debt you have accrued. Not revealing this information actively hurts you and your partner’s finances, and creates a sort of ticking time bomb. The longer you withhold that information, the more challenging it may be to recover when it is found out by your partner.
When to See a Couples Counselor About Secrets
So, where does couples counseling fit into all of this? A therapist can help you to navigate both privacy and secrecy. Let’s talk about it.
Privacy and Boundaries
Maybe you and your spouse are struggling with spending quality time instead of quantity time. After all, the pandemic brought you together (very together!) – so now how do you know when to do things apart?
A therapist can help you and your partner understand and explore healthy boundaries when it comes to privacy in your relationship. They can help you find balance between your time together and your time apart so that quality time doesn’t start to feel like just quantity time. (Related article: Couples Therapy Dos and Don’ts).
Secrecy and Repair
Now, maybe you and your spouse are struggling with the aftermath of a revealed secret. Or maybe you have a secret, and you’d like to reveal it, you just don’t know how. You might even suspect that there is a secret being held from you and you are struggling with trust for your partner. All of these situations can be addressed in therapy.
A therapist can help you learn how to share secrets in a health, productive way. Then, you can learn how to navigate the aftermath of the secret, and how to make important repairs to your trust. A secret doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your marriage, and a therapist can help you know where to go next.
Getting Started in Couples Counseling
Ready to get started? Begin couples counseling in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.
Written By Lauren Adkins