This question has been a debate. I gave my thought to the question and having made some observation decided to share the result in a two-part post.
Before going deep into the issue, I think it is proper to understand the purpose of a relationship. A relationship is for mutual appreciation. Without the conscious awareness of many, people go into relationship to share deep feelings and emotions. As a healthy relationship grows and matures, the possibility of a life-long commitment also grows. It is in the process that intimacy develops and deepens. Now, what is intimacy?
Plain and simple, intimacy is self-disclosure. You are intimate with someone to the degree that you reveal your hidden self, including what you think and feel as well as what you’ve done or experienced. The comfort, the relief, the sheer pressure of revealing yourself, and – if you have chosen your audience well – of being understood and uncritically accepted is enough to explain why intimacy is the Holy Grail of relationships.
From childhood, we hope to have a best friend, a person to whom we can open our hearts and who will value us enough to risk equal self-disclosure. We imagine we’ll have enough in common to make our time together joyful, and enough affection to make our differences tolerable.1
There are various “reasons” why a lot of people have decided to be dishonest with their partners. You find a wife building a house without the knowledge of her husband. She says it is because her husband is extravagant and it is for the good of the family. Rather than do the hard work of having and continuing to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the husband so that a point is reached where he sees the good in building a house, she takes the easy way out. There are options to explore in helping her husband curtail his extravagance. House or no house, his extravagance is an issue to the family. That has to be dealt with. It may not be easy but it deserves to be worked out for the good of the family. Doing this successfully can lead to the husband actively being involved in the house project. Even when the house has been completed without him being aware, his extravagance remains an issue that can be detrimental to the family. And when the man finally becomes aware of the house, it will be difficult for him to stop looking at the wife with one kind eye. “She built a house without my knowledge!” he will say. Then trust, the very foundation of the relationship, is affected. A bigger issue has been created.
Another woman knows her past which her husband is not aware of. It may have been alright to just say, “The past belongs to the past,” except that for years she has not been able to conceive. Her fear that the many abortions she has had in the past is the reason for her inability to conceive stops her from wanting to see a medical practitioner even after her husband has initiated it.
Where the consequence of the past is as physical as a child, a partner is expected to disclose it to the other before going into marriage. A man had three children before going into marriage with a woman not the mother of the children. Rather than telling the truth he told her that they were the children of his late brother. Truth has a nature which is that it is incapable of being permanently hidden. The woman found out the truth on the 25th anniversary! First reaction – she fainted. Before one could say “Liar” they were before a counselor.
This write-up will continue in the next post.