You know things about your husband that nobody else knows. Sometimes they’re little things…and sometimes they’re big secrets you could never tell anyone. If you’re hiding the truth about your marriage, you may feel like you’re carrying a heavy burden all by yourself.
Here’s what a reader called Eliza said on 5 Ways to Find Happiness in a Loveless Marriage: “I need advice about how my husband treats me, I had to get it all out because I’ve hiding secrets from my family. Nobody knows what’s going on. I have kept quiet about my marriage all these years.”
She inspired me to share a few thoughts about marriage secrets – particularly the unhealthy, harmful, and even abusive ones. It wasn’t just Eliza’s comment that made me want to offer support and comfort for wives who are hiding the truth about their marriage…it’s one of my friends. I recently found out that she, too, has secrets she’s hiding about her husband.
In many ways, marriage secrets can be good for couples! Healthy secrets can unite married couples, helping them feel more emotionally connected and close. An example of a healthy marriage secret is a special word you say when you want to be intimate, or a signal you share with your husband when you’re ready to leave a gathering.
But, when your marriage secrets are unhealthy or abusive…or if you can’t tell your friends or family how your husband treats you, the kids, your pets, or even himself…then you need to find healthy ways to cope the things you can’t talk about.
3 Healthy Ways to Handle Marriage Secrets
My thoughts on coping with marriage secrets won’t solve Eliza’s problems, nor will they change how her husband treats her. But, they give her some insights and ideas on how to tell the truth about her marriage to someone who won’t judge or condemn her or her husband
1. Accept your reasons for not telling the truth – and be gentle with yourself
Eliza can’t tell her friends or family the truth because she’s embarrassed about her husband. He has medical coverage through work, but she lost her insurance when they married. “Now I’m $5,000 dollars in debt because of medical bills,” she says. “When a debt recovery assistant asked my husband to pay at least $150 a month, he refused.”
She’s also ashamed to admit that her husband doesn’t help around the house or in the yard, and makes her spend her money when they go out. “Every week I have to give him gas money to get to work,” she says. “He doesn’t have a drug problem – he’s just stingy and doesn’t want to spend his own money. He’s always in a bad mood, and this week he asked if he could pawn my jewelry for more money.”
Most marriage secrets are rooted in shame, guilt, and fear of judgment. It’s natural to feel embarrassed about your husband, and even to be ashamed of yourself for choosing to marry him. The problem is that marriage secrets are emotionally, physically and spiritually destructive. Marriage secrets destroy your self-image and threaten physical health. Telling the truth about your marriage will be difficult…but it will help you heal and grow forward.
2. Tell the truth in a safe place
Start by writing the truth in a safe space, such as a marriage forum, relationship advice website, or even a blog like this one. Don’t share your real name or personal details. Just write the truth about your husband and all the secrets you’ve been hiding since you got married. Purge your heart, mind, soul and spirit of the darkness and heaviness you’re carrying.
Eliza did the right thing by writing about her marriage secrets. She and her husband have been married for four years; she pays the rent and car payments. Her husband doesn’t pay his own bills, which he brought into their marriage. Their cars have been repossessed twice. Eliza’s children aren’t biologically his; he yells at them and hurts their feelings. “I’m a Christian and I believe in marriage,” she wrote on my blog post. “My husband is not an abusive man, but how much of this do I have to take? I feel trapped in this relationship and I have nobody to talk to.”
If you like you can share your story here, in the comments section below. Or you could read Is Your Marriage Over? 6 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore, and comment on the part about secrets in marriage. You won’t be judged or criticized, or even thought less of.
3. Ask for strength and courage
Are you hiding the truth about your relationship? A simple “yes” or “no” can start breaking down the walls. If you can’t talk or write about your marriage secrets right now, ask God for strength and courage. Ask for help, for guidance and wisdom. Above all, ask for His love and peace to fill you with the power you need to share your burden and ease the pain.
If you know Jesus, you also know that you don’t have to carry your burden alone. You aren’t alone in life or in your marriage. No matter how lonely, sad or depressed you feel, you are always free to look up and meet the gaze of God.
Find someone you trust. Tell her as much as you can. Ask her not to give you advice, not to judge or try to help you. Ask her just to listen so you can tell the truth about your marriage without being counseled, advised, or interrupted. This is a healthy way to start sharing the secrets that are locked inside of you.
Remember that you’re only as alone as you choose to be. You’re here for a reason; the Holy Spirit is directing your steps and guiding your journey. God created you exactly the way you are for a reason – His child, wholly loved and cherished – and He has a purpose for your life. It’s time for you to step into the life He wants you to have.
Of course it won’t be easy! But it will be worth it.
If your whole marriage or relationship is a secret – or you recently broke up with a man – read Healing After a Secret Relationship Ends.