Can You Keep A Secret?
Her World Malaysia|July 2018

And should you? Poon Li-Wei sought out two experts to weigh in on how having secrets can affect the relationships in your life.

Your Spouse

WHAT SHOULD YOU NEVER KEEP SECRET ABOUT?

Fatin (F) lists down:

1 Health conditions

You should always have a list somewhere of the medications you are taking, previous medical history, blood group, and allergies for future reference. The same goes to your spouse as accidents and complications can happen within seconds.

2 Finances

It’s been estimated that money issues are the driving force in 90 per cent of divorces – so be open to talking about your feelings, experiences, and hopes about managing your finances together, and be willing to negotiate.

3 Mental health issues

You need someone supportive to lend a different perspective, help you see hope and possibility, and to know that others love and care for you – you need to let your spouse understand what you’re going through.

4 Sexual preferences

A majority of people under-communicate when it comes to sex – even in long-term relationships.

5 Hidden feelings

Don’t hide your feelings – especially resentment and anger – from your spouse as these will build up and manifest in other areas of your life.

BUT IS IT OKAY TO KEEP SECRETS?

P: ‘White lies can at times make life easier. The classic case would be: ‘Do I look good?’ As long as it’s harmless and isn’t said out of malice, it should be okay. A warning sign is when you’re constantly avoiding the truth because you’re scared it will lead to arguments. That hints at deeper underlying issues.”

F: “Consider how your partner would view this secret if they found out you neglected to tell them. If you feel guilty or uneasy about not disclosing certain information – that’s a red flag.”

WHAT IF YOUR PARTNER FINDS OUT?

F: “It could potentially lead to arguments, a loss of trust, and affect your intimacy.”

P: “Sometimes, you start off with a small lie but in order to sustain that lie, you have to keep telling other lies. So, when your partner looks at it as a whole, he may think you’re manipulative and even question the genuineness of your entire relationship.”

HOW DO YOU BREAK A SECRET TO YOUR PARTNER?

P: ‘“Sometimes, a superiority complex can arise when coming clean. People tend to frame things in such a way that it ‘wasn’t my fault this happened’ and that ‘it’s normal’. Start off with a general statement such as ‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this but I would like to talk about it now. I’m really sorry about it and I didn’t do it with the intention of hurting you.’ You have to show them that you’re willing to work hard on your relationship, and remember to give them space and time to react to the secret you’ve just shared – not everyone will be able to remain calm and collected.”

Your Parents

WHAT SHOULD YOU NEVER KEEP SECRET ABOUT?

Fatin (F) lists down:

1 Abuse

You may feel ashamed, embarrassed, hurt, and confused but the longer you wait, the worse it will be for yourself – seek out support from your family.

2 Life-threatening illnesses

You may want to protect them from the harsh truth, but parents will want to support their child emotionally and psychologically.

3 Mental health issues

It can be intimidating to explain it to them, but let them know it’s a very serious issue and tell them exactly how you feel.

4 Sexual preferences

Research findings suggest that telling the truth about your sexual orientation will create a stronger relationship, and will be good for your mental health and self-esteem. This may also prevent suicidal feelings, substance abuse, and risky sex.

5 Religious beliefs

Telling your parents that you don’t believe in what they believe in is difficult. But be honest and explain why and how you feel about your current religion, and the one you’re going to uphold (if any).

BUT DO YOU NEED TO SHARE EVERYTHING?

F: “In our culture, it’s a bit trickier as Asian parents want to know everything, while the kids don’t want to divulge at all. Things that make up your individual preferences, that have nothing to do with them, aren’t a necessity to share. For example, it’s good for them to know where you work, but it’s not necessary for them to know how much you earn.”

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