How to cope with a secretive spouse

How to cope with a secretive spouse

Here are ways to cope with a secretive partner, if you have one

Be emotionally available

Perhaps you are the one who finds it difficult, possibly even scary, to open up and share things about yourself to others. If this is so, you may be seeing your partner turning secretive in response to your own difficulties in trusting him or her with deeper knowledge about yourself.

Say how you feel

According to, in a non-accusatory fashion, tell your partner that you see him or her as being secretive and give some examples of what led you to that conclusion. Then say how that makes you feel, perhaps something like, “When I think you are holding back from telling me things about yourself, I feel as if a wall went up between us. I love you and want to feel closer.” It would surely soften his or her mind towards you.

Respond in a positive manner when your partner does tell you something

People tend to open up the more when their attempts at communication receive responses that are understanding, caring and validating. This might start the relationship down a new path of increasing trust and self-disclosure. In other words, you must always be interested when your partner tells you something. If you seem uninterested, there is every likelihood that they may begin to withdraw into their shell and end up not telling you certain things until it is too late.

Give it time

Social scientist, Andreas Wismeijer wrote in his book, ‘Emotional Regulation and Well-Being’ that people who keep secrets may have low self-esteem and hide facts about their past or their personalities as a way of protecting themselves. Alternatively, if your partner has grown more secretive over time, it may indicate relationship problems that need attention. In both cases, opening up will grow slowly as you build or rebuild trust. Sometimes your partner’s secretive behaviours have nothing to do with you. You may do everything possible to build trust and encourage more emotional intimacy, but your partner is just not able to self-disclose and meet you halfway. You may want to enter couples therapy to get help with the relationship.

Always confront your spouse in a civilised manner

If you want to get your spouse to open up to you  the more, it is advisable to confront him or her about issues in a civilised manner. The dialogue should never degenerate into who is right, but should focus on what is right. You can expect your spouse’s reaction to be problematic initially. He or she may be angry or may issue an outright denial and tend to be secretive about an affair for instance. Dialogue wins in most cases.

Learn to trust your partner

Relationships are made up of many components and people will put up with many quirks to keep a relationship going. If you are consistently made to feel uncomfortable or uneasy because you feel as if you cannot trust your partner, then making the decision not to take him or her back is the logical one for you. By keeping secrets or lying to your partner, you run the risk of losing their trust and putting your relationship in jeopardy. Keeping secrets is a hotbed for betrayal. Leaving out important facts can lead to further deception or betrayal. Whereas,  being open with your partner will promote trust and honest communication.

Some people believe that they need to keep secrets or lie to survive in their relationship. They lack confidence in their ability to confront unpleasant topics – such as money troubles, or issues related to past or present mistakes. Finding healthy ways to express yourself to your partner is the best way to build a trusting relationship.

Decide on forgiveness

Couples are hurt by lies and tend to grow apart from their spouses. It’s hard to feel emotionally connected to someone when you catch them in a lie or find out that they’ve kept a secret from you. You must decide if you will forgive your secretive spouse after certain revelations have been made in order to save your marriage. It is important to analyse your feelings at this juncture as the future of your marriage depends on this.


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