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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Secrets It’s Perfectly OK to Keep From Your Spouse

Yes, honesty is the best policy. But it’s totally fine to keep a few things to yourself, even when you’re married. Here are a few guidelines on what tidbits are acceptable to stay private from your spouse.

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You sneak junk food

Your spouse is a health nut. You’ve tried to become one, but sometimes slip up. It’s fine if you sneak a few Oreos now and then to satiate a craving. We won’t tell! Mike Goldstein, founder and lead dating coach of EZ Dating Coach, explains that this even happens in his home. He is always trying to eat healthfully and doesn’t keep desserts in the house. However, his girlfriend loves chocolate. So she hides it in places he won’t find it. “This is a great compromise for the two of us,” says Goldstein. “She gets what she wants and so do I.”

2 / 9

He’s not the best lover you’ve ever had

Nothing compares to your spouse. You definitely don’t want to be with anyone else; sex is always better because it’s with your spouse. But from time to time, you do find yourself wistfully reflecting on your amazing times in the bedroom with an old flame —and that’s totally normal. “Realistically, the one you marry doesn’t need to be the best lover,” says Goldstein. It’s ok to fantasize about what an ex did in bed every now and then. Just keep these fantasies to yourself to protect your partner’s ego. “Sex should rarely be a total dealbreaker if the rest of the package is phenomenal,” says Goldstein. “Not to mention, sex can be coached and improved over time.” Stop and ask yourself how he can get better. “Don’t tell him that he’s not the best lover you have had,” says Lisa Hochberger, M.Ed., a sexologist, sex educator and relationship expert. “Instead, show him how to be the best lover you have ever had. Communication is key to having better sex.”

3 / 9

Your mom thinks you could do better

It’s not worth hurting your spouse’s feelings by telling him your mother thinks he’s not good enough for you. “No matter what your family thinks of your man, if it’s less than perfect, it’s best to keep your mouth shut,” says Julie Spira, an online dating expert, CEO of Cyber-Dating Expert and author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating. You’ll be spending a lifetime together going to holiday events with family, so bringing a subject like this up could be damaging to your relationship. Do you really want your spouse to stay home on Thanksgiving because he knows your family doesn’t approve?” Unless he can do something about it, he likely can’t change her mind. So why bother him with this information that may make him feel insecure? Besides, your mother likely thinks no one is deserving of her precious child. “If you’re happy with your choice in a mate, there is no benefit whatsoever to telling your spouse this information,” says Marni Feuerman, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida. Here’s what mother-in-laws are secretly thinking about their kids’ spouses, and what father-in-laws won’t say to your face.

4 / 9

You splurge on a pricey bag or pair of shoes

Being a shopaholic is one thing. But if you occasionally treat yourself to something nice—as long as you can afford it—your spouse might not be upset anyway. Consider giving each of you a monthly budget that allows you to spend a certain amount of money on whatever you want, says Goldstein. He says, “If you want to spend that money on shoes, it’s none of his business, as long as it fits into the budget.”

5 / 9

You don’t share your friend’s secrets

When a friend says “Don’t tell this to anyone,” some people tell their spouse anyway. Others don’t betray a friend when she spills the beans as they don’t want to lose that friend’s trust. It’s fine to keep a friend’s confidences to yourself. “Your spouse is married to you and not your friends,” says Francesca Di Meglio, the former Newlyweds Expert for and writer of the Italian Mamma blog. “And you both should have friends with whom you can have fun and blow off steam and even discuss problems. It’s healthy and natural. No marriage vow suggests ‘thou shalt spill the beans on all his or her friends.’” And your spouse likely won’t understand or even care about it anyway, says Hochberger. “There is no harm in keeping a friend’s secret that doesn’t affect your spouse,” she says. Hochberger. Here are other little ways you can be a good friend.

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istock/Songsak Paname

You don’t tell him you did something dumb

Maybe you tripped on the curb as you boarded the bus to work. Or perhaps you left your glasses at home and had to turn around to get them. “If you’re embarrassed, you shouldn’t have to tell your spouse and it shouldn’t hurt your marriage,” says Di Meglio. You can selectively tell your husband (or not tell him at all) if you do something that you feel may come across as stupid. “While I encourage honesty and communication in relationships, there is no need for you to constantly call out your flaws to your partner,” says Hochberger. “Confidence is sexy. You want your partner to see the beauty that you have to offer (inside and out). There is no need to stress your shortcomings.”

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iStock/john shepherd

You notice he’s looking a little heavier

The two of you met in your 20s when you had time to spend hours at the gym. Ten years and two or three kids later, sometimes working out falls by the wayside. “Weight fluctuates and our looks fade as we age,” says Di Meglio. “It’s not all there is to your love story.” Sure, you would love if he lost 10 pounds and dropped the bulging belly. But it’s not worth telling him (assuming the weight gain isn’t impacting his health) and making him self-conscious and offended as a result. “Let him know he’s still as handsome to you as the day you first met,” says Spira. You might even use this weight gain as an opportunity to work out together or eat better as a family, says Di Meglio.

8 / 9

You check out someone else

You can fight the urge to look at a cute boy or girl all you want, but passing glances happen naturally, even if you’re in a committed relationship. “It’s human nature to check out someone else,” says Spira. “But do you need to kiss-and-tell if you haven’t really kissed?” Sizing someone up doesn’t mean you want to make a move on him. Let yourself off the hook if you’re giving a harmless, quick gaze. It’s only a problem when you act on the fantasy. “It’s touching that’s the problem,” says Di Meglio. “As the old saying goes, ‘You’re married, not dead.’”

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You booked a surprise vacation

Did you book a 50th birthday or 20th anniversary getaway behind your spouse’s back? As long as this fun surprise fits into your aforementioned preapproved budget, it’s acceptable to do something special and secretive for your spouse, says Goldstein.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Stacey Feintuch
Stacey Feintuch contributes to's Health and Relationship sections. Her articles have appeared in Woman's World, Boca Raton Observer and, among other sites and publications. She earned her MA in magazine writing from S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and her BA in journalism from The George Washington University.