If you’ve done the last few exercises, you may have squirmed a little, and maybe you have not been totally honest. When answering some of the questions on the Newlywed game or even when just telling about your day, you might have noticed telling your partner some things is easier than telling her others. Maybe there are kinks you are ashamed of, a bad day at the office that would worry her, or something you did that he might not understand. These are your secrets. Your secrets, as you may have heard, can make your marriage sick.
So, this guy has a female friend at work. They spend a lot of time in each others’ offices. They text constantly. They tell each other everything. She’s going through a lot and he can be a support. She understands him. There is nothing sexual going on, but still, he doesn’t tell his wife about his friend. He’s afraid his wife would just get needlessly jealous. Besides, there’s nothing to tell because nothing happened.
You can imagine how this scenario might play out. His wife might see a text message and say, If there’s nothing going on, why haven’t you told me? His wife will be unable to trust him. Even if the woman and the guy never had sex, the wife would call it an emotional affair. He might just get so close to the woman at work that he falls in love and divorces his wife.
That fellow is in a bind. On one hand, he clearly desires having an intimate relationship with someone. He’s lonely and likes there to be no secrets. He likes to be known and valued for who he is. He has that kind of relationship with his female friend. Why can’t he have it with his wife?
He can be real with the woman at work because it doesn’t matter so much if she disapproves. He has less to lose. Ironically, this secret destroys the marriage because the man attempts to preserve it. He is so intent on keeping his marriage safe that he creates this giant wall between himself and his wife.
There is a general, ironic principle at work here. In order to keep your relationship alive, you have to be willing to put it to the test. You have to court conflict, not avoid it. To save a union, you have to be willing to risk it.