Maybe he was telling the truth. Since then, my husband has been happy to tell people that I can’t keep a secret, citing that surprise party as the only example. This annoys me a lot, especially since I’m doing a job that requires a lot of discretion. I went through little more than a background check for my job!
I told my husband that I don’t appreciate it and it makes me look bad at my job, but he insists that it’s true and that my problem is really me. When friends hear him say that I’m not good at keeping secrets, they’ll ask, “Don’t you work for X?” or “Don’t you do Y?” What he says is actually not true.
Here is a list of all the things I never told him: I almost married him; When we got together, I had a huge credit card debt that I secretly took care of; I never wanted to move into our first house; I hate one of his best friends; my dad was in intensive care during our honeymoon; I was dating someone else when we met; and my emotional affair with a male colleague a few years ago. I will not hide these things from him; I don’t think they have anything to do with our current relationship.
Part of me really wants to throw this list in my husband’s face, but part of me wonders if there’s love in letting him believe whatever he wants because he clearly feels the need to save face. In any case, I fear that his insecurities could undermine my career!
Worried: The part where you share your concerns with him and he brushes them off as your problem – for example, the problem with YOU – is something that should worry you more than the potential impact on your career. Or maybe why he’s comfortable upsetting you and potentially undermining your career just to satisfy his deep insecurities that he doesn’t know something, even something he shouldn’t know about (e.g. a party- surprise).
Or maybe you need to take a step back and worry about something you’ve kept from him in the past. Have you been honest with yourself about your openness and truthfulness with him? He seems to be missing something that would fuel – or create – his insecurity about not knowing anything. You can’t tell him what’s going on at work (I guess), okay. You also don’t seem to share information about your personal background, finances, opinions, personal feelings, and even when a close family member is in the intensive care unit. I don’t agree with not telling your spouse about almost everything on your list, but I can’t even imagine any possible excuse for not telling your spouse immediately after learning that your father is in intensive care. The honeymoon doesn’t matter at all. What will you tell him? No wonder this guy takes every opportunity to show people that he’s learned something from you, or to believe that you can’t keep secrets from him. It sounds like all you’re doing is keeping secrets from him.
Assuming there are good points and benefits to this relationship for both of you, talk to a professional who can help you figure out what’s best for your mental health, marriage, and career. You can start by looking into any employee assistance program in your organization that usually offers free consultations. If you haven’t overlooked the full, loving aspect of this relationship, and it’s missing on both sides, as it sounds, then just jump straight into consulting a divorce lawyer because oh, wow, and all that.
Worried: Wow. Reading your letter, it seems that deep down you do not love your husband very much? And not trust him? Not to mention the problem with the inability to keep secrets that you wrote about – this is a symptom. The fact that you haven’t shared any of those doubts or concerns with your partner… is not how it’s supposed to work. You must share the burden of your life so you can take it on together. I would chat without defense about how you think his statement undermines your work, and also nullify what you share with each other. Unless you find yourself unwilling to share with him, then you can make other decisions. Good luck!
Worried: Wow, no wonder you almost didn’t marry this man. It is high time to clarify this problem and its consequences with him. I think you should choose a neutral time to raise this issue. Begin by saying, “I already told you when you were throwing a surprise party that I don’t like it when you tell people that I’m not good at keeping secrets. It hurts me that you like to make me look bad in front of our friends. I don’t want to hear you say that about me again.” If he retorts that it doesn’t matter much, you can reply, “Maybe it didn’t matter much if you said it once five years ago, but the fact that I keep hearing it now hurts our relationship and my career. I need you to stop doing this.” Attach any consequences you are comfortable with, such as “if I hear this again, I will step in and say it’s not true in front of our friends” to “we’ll need marriage counseling” to “I”. I’m leaving.” And yes, I guess leaving is what you think of when you tell your closest partner that he’s hurting you and he keeps doing the same thing, in the same vein, without remorse or remorse.
Worried: There are two problems here. First, your husband is being unnecessarily rude and you need to tell him that his insistence on repeating this story is not funny. If he comes back with a “but it’s really true” argument, ask him why he takes such pleasure in telling everyone about what he thinks is a problem. He needs to know that when doing something, even when you have repeatedly asked him to stop, he is cruel.
But secondly, I think you need to talk to someone (even yourself) about why you didn’t tell your husband about some of these things. You don’t like his best friend – cool, we can’t all like our spouse’s friends, and if he’s not a completely bad person, it’s probably better not to say anything. But it’s absolutely insane to me that you didn’t tell him that your father was in intensive care on your honeymoon. If your relationship with your father is such that it didn’t affect you any more than if someone you met on the street the day before was in the intensive care unit, this is information your partner needs to know. Did you hide it from him because you didn’t want to ruin the event, or because you didn’t like the way he supported you, or something else entirely? This is an abnormal level of non-disclosure in a relationship and I think it would be helpful to think about why you are hiding things from him.
Each week, we ask readers to answer a question posed by Caroline Hax via chat or email. Read last week’s issue here. New questions are usually posted on Fridays and the submission deadline is Monday. Responses are anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself, and have been edited for length and clarity.