You may think that a teeny, tiny little lie — a fib by omission or noncommittal answer to a pointed question — will have no negative consequences in your otherwise solid relationship. But, says relationship expert and etiquette columnist April Masini, "keeping things from your spouse breeds mistrust in a marriage. And when you or your spouse don't trust each other, you're always looking over your shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering if what they said they did is true. This dynamic tends to snowball and it's very hard to get out from under."
On the flip side, she says, "sharing with your spouse breeds intimacy and that's a basis for the best relationships. The stronger the intimacy you have with your spouse, the quicker you develop a unique shorthand with them and the kind of trust that brings better sex, deeper love and stronger decisions making skills as a couple."
So with the goal of building a stronger bond and not breeding distrust, here are six things our experts say you should never keep from your spouse.
1. Your sexual history.
Of course you're tempted to keep the dirty details of your past affairs to yourself. And while you don't have to share just how your last lover turned you on, you do have to discuss any health concerns you may have when it comes to your sexual past. "Your sexual history and health not only affects you directly, but it can also impact your partner's well-being," says Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.
Beyond that, Masini says, "don't hide pregnancy or abortion. You're married and whether you planned it or want it or aren't sure what to do next, it's wise for you to loop him in early so he can share the responsibility as well as being there for you while you celebrate, ruminate or think about what life will be like next. It's easy to say it's your body, it's your information, but what brings the two of you together is to take his feelings into account as well."
2. Any illness you may be facing.
It's unhealthy, excuse the pun, to hide health issues you're facing from your spouse. "If you've got a health issue you're ashamed of or scared of — or think is no big deal but it could be — you owe it to your partner to let them know what's going on," Masini says. "If you're truly in this together, you owe it to your partner to let him know what's going on and what you're doing or not doing about it. You're not the only one affected by your health, and if the tables were turned, you'd want the same disclosure and honesty."
Sharing your health concerns with your partner could help your actual health, too. "You might miss certain signs that your partner would see," says Greer, "and that could mean you go to get it checked out early, before it's too late."
3. How you really spend your money.
Whether you have a shoe addition or a penchant for buying fine wine, "it may seem to cute to keep a purchase or two from him to avoid husbandly judgment," says Masini. But when those purchases become debt and they wind up in the four and five and six figures because you've lost count and control, he's going to be furious that you've put the two of you in this position."
Plus, if you hide your purchases, they'll be a source of stress and not enjoyment, Greer points out. "Ideally you want to be able to enjoy the things you purchase, free from guilt and worry that you're creating financial burden — or worry that your spouse will be angry with you," she says.
4. The time you spend with people your partner doesn't like.
If your partner doesn't like one of your friends, you may be tempted to see them on the DL. But "if you hide this," Greer warns, "it compromises your own individuality in terms of expressing your personal needs — securing this social time and being responsible for yourself without needing approval from your partner."
5. Any upsets you face at work.
Getting yelled at by your boss is bad enough that it's no wonder you wouldn't want to tell your partner. But hiding the warning signs that you could get demoted or worse, lose your job, will only make a bad situation worse. "The longer you put it off, the harder it's going to be for you to tell him and for him to hear it without jumping on you for not telling him sooner," Masini says. "The problem won't just be the job issue. It's going to be his feelings about you're withholding this information. Tell him you have something to talk about. Pour two glasses of wine or cups of coffee and spill it. Better out than in, and together, you can address your next move."
6. Your serious past relationships.
You shouldn't hide your former relationships, says Masini, no matter how short-lived they may have been. "You may think it's no big deal, but when this ex suddenly shows up, seven years later, your husband will not be happy — and will wonder if you have any other former husbands hiding under rocks," she warns. "Disclose your past marriages and serious relationships so your husband isn't sabotaged by a surprise ex visit or phone call."