Brandy and Leoance Williams examine what can happen when couple share secrets…with people outside of their relationship.
A relationship begins with two people agreeing to support and involve themselves with each other. That relationship is complicated when several individuals are added into the mix of that relationship. Can their intentions be trusted? Will the third, fourth or multiple party interests convolute the sacred nature of that original relationship? Communication and trust are the basis of every relationships. Secret sharing must begin with those two elements.
A few years ago, my answer would have been an emphatic, “Do not involve others in your personal business.” Today, I am not so staunch on this idea. There is a large part of me that truly believes a doomed relationship is one that involves the neighbors. These neighbors can be community members, friends, family and/or children. However, there is a larger part of me that realizes marriage is a trial and error experience. One of the best ways to learn how to be married, outside of doing it, is to look at, and learn from working models. Often times, my story may be helpful to someone else’s plight. If I didn’t confide some of my secrets in others, I would keep the wealth of knowledge I hold, to myself.
Further, some situations are very hard to empathize with, when there is no scaffold to initiate the compassion. More plainly stated, I may not be able to discuss some topics with my partner at length, because he/she doesn’t understand what I am facing. Someone outside of the situation, who may have experience with my problem, could be a better solution and/or sounding board to help me help my partner interact with me. Additionally, I could be dead wrong and at odds with my partner because I cannot comprehend his/her point of view. Confiding this information in others may help me to understand my own ignorance. When viewed through those lenses, confiding secrets in others has benefits for my relationship. Still, there are some rules associated with this practice.
For one, I must be cautious with whom I share my secrets. Whomever is chosen must be someone who I can trust to be objective, logical and realistic. Additionally, I must communicate with my partner first. There are simply some secrets that ought never be shared. I would know which are which, by speaking to my partner. Likewise, I must be a big girl and own the answers that I receive, even when they overwhelmingly contradict what I thought. But, not all sharing sessions should end in advice. Sometimes, I must have a sounding board, and be certain to explain my needs to any outside ears. Lastly, I must be wary of discussing my secrets with people who are too close to my situation. I may inadvertently put my partner in a compromising position with others. Trust and love are one in the same.
I respectfully disagree with my wife. Shocking right?!?!? As a man, I don’t feel comfortable explaining or sharing secrets. I feel like people will use them to take advantage of the situation. After all, if I share with my female friends that I have issues with my wife, they will swoop in and try to “save the day”. Now, I am being sarcastic and overly simplistic, but the notion is true. There are simply people who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and can pull the wool over your eyes when you confide in them. In being realistic, I know that I may have vent outside of my relationship. My dog, God, other animals, hell, my shoe is better than confiding my secrets in others. There is but one exception to this rule. Mental health and stability are real worries. Therefore, if I need to confide, I want someone who is trained and licensed to listen to me….a therapist. Not my friends, my mom, or my coworkers, but someone who has been taught how to analyze my thoughts and feelings, and help me to reach an objective solution.
My wife believes sharing with me and then carrying our issues to someone she is comfortable with, will help us. She is wrong! I have a healthy distrust of people. Let’s look at basic human nature here. People are driven by a need to survive and thrive. What is a secret for you, may be the key to a promotion or an opportunity that few knew about. Further, telling individuals your secrets, gives them leverage. There is always something they can hang over your head, even if those people never make mention to it. Then too, there are some folks who are well intentioned, but put your secrets- and by extension you- in compromising positions without realizing it. When someone is speaking and trying to keep some information private, they have a tendency to let little, seemingly inconsequential details slip. Those details could haunt you for sharing them in the first place. At least someone with a degree and license stands to lose a lot if they allow the same things to happen. Unlike my wife, I don’t love people openly. Therefore, I don’t trust them!
Authors’ Note: We welcome your polite comments and discussion on this topic.
—Photo John Jewell/Flickr