I’ve been thinking about communication in relationships for the last week. Last weekend, Chris and I were out with my friend and her boyfriend, who have been together over six years but are not married. Her boyfriend has been married twice before, and like most of us, has cheated on his significant other. We all have our opinions about infidelity and how to deal with it, but he said something last weekend that made me think. My first inclination (well, initially) is that if I were to ever be unfaithful, that I would tell my spouse. Why? Well, frankly the first reason is to make sure that if he were to ever find out, it would be from me and not someone else (that idea really sounds terrifying). The second reason is to clear my conscience and not feel like I have to hide anything. I want to have open communication about the good, the bad, and the ugly. The guilt would really chip away at me. Maybe it’s the Asian guilt gene in me. But my friend’s boyfriend made me question why I would have any need to clear my conscience.
“If you have one indiscretion, you make out with someone, you have sex with someone else once — why do you feel a need to admit it to your spouse?” he asked hypothetically. “Outwardly, you are doing it supposedly to protect him, to be honest to him, for him… but you’re actually not. Because if you really think about it, you’re being selfish and you just want to clear your own guilt. You’re thinking about yourself, your feelings. You want to make yourself feel better. You want to be in the clear. But you’ve just caused unnecessary pain for your partner. And that’s going to eat away at him and cause him paranoia. And that’s not cool. You haven’t done him any favors.”
I guess it’s one way to look at it. And while chatting with Chris today, I realized he agrees, too. The only reason to bring it up in his mind is if you are having not a one-time fling, but an actual affair that is ongoing… because that’s a true sign that it wasn’t just a random indiscretion in the moment, that it’s actually indicative of a problem in the relationship.
In a perfect world, in a perfect relationship, we’d be transparent about everything, but we’re not mind readers, and we don’t necessarily and should not want to communicate every single thought in our minds because that’s not practical, nor possible, nor is it even human to be able to do that. So then that begs the question of… how much should we be sharing and when?