Some days it would be easier if we all just understood each other. Sure, it would be boring, but at least we wouldn’t be dumbfounded when people react to the world in a completely different way than we expect. Whatever makes sense to us can seem like the only way to live. Sometimes I’ll whisper something to someone and moments later that same someone is blurting it out to the world. My first thought is, “What was he or she thinking?” My second thought is, “Did he or she realize that I did not want that information repeated?”
Sometimes we expect everyone to understand the world just as we do. If someone comes up to me and whispers something, I assume they don’t want me to broadcast it to the world. That is normal for me. However, it’s not normal to everyone and I cannot expect everyone to get it the same way I get it. If I don’t want someone telling my business to the masses, I need to explicitly tell that person instead of being surprised and angry when I hear other people talking about it later.
This traditionally sounds like a female teenager problem; yet, girls get married and that’s where the “fun” really begins. Women and men often have different ideas about what is private and what can be public knowledge. Because of the reputation of a men’s locker room, women often believe that men are very open about sex. After all, if they talk about it all the time then they must not mind us talking about it, right?
Wrong. There may be some men that don’t mind their wives detailing their intimate moments to others, but I would be willing to bet that the majority of men prefer to keep that part of their marriage within the confines of their marriage. Once, I heard someone say that a woman talking to her friends about her and her husband’s sex life was the equivalent of a husband broadcasting his wife’s weight to all of his friends. Some parts of life and marriage are just meant to be private.
To give you some ideas as to what someone may consider private and may not want shared with others, one’s list could contain these topics:
- Sex (intimate details, not just the general topic)
- Money / Income / Bills
- Medical Diagnoses
- Incompetence (e.g., “My husband can’t do ….”)
- … and many other possible topics
I recommend that you and your boyfriend/girlfriend or fiancé/fiancée discuss the “privacy settings” with which you both are comfortable. Before you get married, talk about what subjects will be off limits to discussing with others. You may be surprised to find what topics your sweetie thinks should be kept a secret. This might be a challenging to a couple that consists of a quiet, reserved person and a highly emotional, keeps nothing back person, but it’s a necessary conversation to have prior to “I do.” Many needless fights can be avoided if you both talk about and agree on what areas of your marriage will be kept private.
Once you are married, other private areas will pop up that you did not think about prior to marriage. You can’t know everything you will face before walking down the aisle. When those moments come up, or when you believe your new spouse has overstepped your marriage’s bounds, confront him or her – but, do it kindly and privately.
It isn’t easy getting used to keeping someone else’s desires and needs in mind when you have only had yourself to take care of for so long. Once you have both agreed on what’s private, be sure to honor and respect each other by keeping those areas confidential. For it’s a peaceful feeling to know that you can trust your spouse not to betray you in any way.
What topics have you committed to each other to not talk about with others?