We all have secrets. There are things we know that we won’t tell virtually anyone that we are familiar with. You wouldn’t share your intimate life with your children, but you might with your parents. You shouldn’t share your party life with your boss, but you certainly would with your close friends.
The old saying goes “You are only as sick as the secrets you keep.” It would be so nice if we never had any secrets, but we all know that’s just not going to happen in this society. Never having to curb your tongue because someone shouldn’t know about something or having to tell a small fib to save you from further problems would be nice, but life just isn’t geared that way.
Secrets can be a delicious poison because it sometimes gives you a satisfying sense of power to know something that no one else knows. And along with that sense of power comes a burden. It’s like walking around with something of great value that you are always protecting, guarding, and always conscious that if it gets out, you could be in trouble. Your body responds to this “fight or flight” response by producing adrenaline and cortisol, which is great when you are being chased by a tiger, but not good as a steady diet. Is it any wonder that our presidents go into office looking young and come out looking twenty years older?
All that being said, there is one place where secrets should not be kept… specifically, secrets you keep from that person that you have some commitment to. I’m talking about those people that you love and care for…your husband, wife or significant other (S.O). Ideally, you should be able to “bare your soul” to them without fear, recrimination or judgment. It’s that one place in your life where you can let down your guard and just be yourself without the mental walls that we surround ourselves with in public. Instead of the adrenaline and cortisol, you produce oxytocin and serotonin which not only make you happy and content, but can actually make you live longer.
Ok, so now you know why it’s good for you; how do you put it into practice?
Break down the walls.
If you have been keeping secrets from your S.O., start small. Tell them something that they probably ought to know about you anyway but you were always afraid to mention, maybe something like “You really look good in that little black dress” or “You look sharp in that blue suit.” You can almost always get a positive response with a comment like that. I know that sounds trivial, but by doing so you start to open the door to real intimacy, trust and communication.
Yeah, I can hear it now, “What do I do if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to?” Congratulations! The door is now open to real communication. What you need to remember is that what comes out of his (or her) mouth has very little to do with you, it’s all about his or her reaction to what you’ve said.
If I told my S.O. that I love to eat raw live octopus, I know what kind of reaction I’d get. Her reaction is what I would need to talk about. Many people (really! I hope not!) eat raw live octopus. So you talk and come to some understanding. Maybe you go out and eat octopus with some of your college buddies.
The point here is that you open up real lines of communication about how you really feel, without the drama, without the fear, and with love and understanding. There lies the solution to a long, happy, satisfying relationship.