While arguments in marriages aren’t terribly uncommon, most people do their best to avoid them. This is, of course, a good idea most of the time, but it makes all the difference in the world HOW you are going about avoiding butting heads with your spouse.
Avoiding fights by taking each other into consideration, remaining connected, talking calmly about disagreements, or embracing your fair share of work around the house are all fantastic, healthy ways of keeping a marriage fight-free. There is, however, a potential dark side to avoiding the argument, and that’s keeping the little things from one another.
If something relatively minor happens that your spouse might be very unhappy about, it is many people’s natural reaction to just leave that detail out of the conversation. We see this when people run into their exes or spend a little more money than they meant to. The theory is “what they don’t know won’t hurt them,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In a situation like this, where a husband may be upset that his wife spent some time catching up with an old flame at the office party, for example, the problem only compounds when it is hidden from the other person. Even if admitting to a small transgression may be painful and cause a small argument, it is far better to handle it openly rather than having it be discovered later.
By omitting a potentially hurtful piece of information from a conversation, the culprit is making two serious mistakes. First, hiding the truth is an admission of wrongdoing in itself – if you know your spouse will be upset, it means you should have known better than to behave that way in the first place. Hiding the truth only illustrates that you are ashamed of what you’ve done. Second, concealing your actions insinuates that you have something to hide. It promotes suspicion. If you aren’t including some information, what else aren’t you telling your spouse? It automatically raises questions about honesty and trustworthiness across the board.
This second mistake is really the main issue here. When the sense of trust in a relationship is compromised, it is a chink in the armor that is sure to grow into a crack, and eventually a fissure. If and when the truth comes to light, over even the slightest omission of wrongdoing, the ensuing argument is almost always about hiding the action in question, not the action itself.
I don’t mean to say that you should be telling your spouse every single detail of every single day, but if you find yourself in a situation that might upset them, it’s usually a good idea to be honest and up front from the get go, instead of trying to explain yourself later – once you’ve been found out. This will help prevent suspicion, and more importantly, keep any arguments that may happen on solvable, rational ground.
It’s a lot easier to say, “Honey, I spent a little more at the store than I meant to. I’m sorry” than it is to explain, when the checkbook doesn’t balance at the end of the month, why you kept it to yourself.
Sometimes it’s better to walk into the little fights head on. You’ll end up avoiding the bigger ones in the future.
Has hiding something ever led to a fight with your spouse? Please comment.
For more tips on loving, open and honest marriage communication, check out our StrongMarriageNow System.
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com