"Should a couple tell each other everything?"
Is it important for a happy life together that the couple discuss and share everything?

When we were growing up, we had not seen much of discussion between my father and mother. My mother was aware of the general information on where my father was going what he did and how much of money he could provide for the family, what annoyed him and what made him happy. The details were never known.Sometimes when he asked her opinion on whether she was ok with a certain decision of his she invariably said "ya. whatever you decide." It was almost the same among our aunts and uncles too. When we were growing up there were a few times we resented this and when we questioned our mother on our father's decision and if she could tell us the reasons why he did something. The answer was always, "I dont know his reasons for doing this but I am sure he has his reasons and they are good."
Total surrender of one's life to the other and implicit acceptance of his decisons and reasons. What was at the base of this? Complete understanding and unquestioning love? or was it total submission to male dominance? I can't answer for her and she is not around. But it worked at that time and they were married for many many years.
I have also known families where the men left most of the day to day decisions to their wife or mother and were quite happy to be rid of quotidian headaches and did not even want to hear about what the women did.

Can it work today?
At least among most of the couples I know decisions are not taken unilaterally, the stronger person tends to have their way but a discussion is always there.And when something is left unsaid, it is usually for a reason - not to hurt the other or scare the other person. And usually what is not discussed is a source of a lot of trouble and in some cases severe conflict.
I know some of my friends who even use a common ID for their personal mails. Is this an indication of total openness? Doesn"t it also amount to sacrifice of personal space or are personal spaces redundant and meaningless once they are married? Is there also a sense of insecurity at the base of this need to be together all the time, to share everything, to tell each other everything? Or is it just the done thing and that's it!

Is it important for the happiness of a couple that they share everything?

P.s: I received a comment once where someone called me a trouble maker - hahah. But honestly, my intention is not to create any trouble. I seriously want other points of view for the argumentation.
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17 Responses
  1. Mahadevan Says:

    I strongly believe in transparency. At the same time, it may not be possible nor desirable, to share everything. So long as one's intentions are good and one is not deceiving the other, withholding certain information from the other is not evil. At times there is a need for personal space particularly when one perceives that the other may not be able to appreciate certain actions, however good they may be. The size of the space depends upon the degree of difference in their perception of a particular
    situation. Healthy relationship underscores the need for respecting personal space.

    'Vaaimai enapadhuvadhu yadhenil Yadhondrum theemaiiladhasol'(Thirukural)

  2. Anonymous Says:

    In a happy marriage, there is room for privacy and for openness. The middle ground always is the golden path, just like in any other sphere of life. The middle ground is as individual as the members of the union, no use comparing one union with another. Finding this middle ground takes time and a lot of trial and error. In my case, it is a lifelong process because we change over time and what worked when we got married doesn't work after a decade. All or nothing, doormat or bully - never is a good policy for a successful marriage. The definition of a successful marriage is again, in my opinion, accepted upon by the two parties involved, not the society.

    Just one thing I take issue with:
    "But it worked at that time and they were married for many many years."
    I'm sure you know that staying married is different from a happy marriage. My comment is not directed at your parents' marriage. In India, the society plays a bigger role in a couple's union, for better and for worse. So people choose to stay married instead of divorcing and dealing with the real consequences associated with it. Although, I hear things are very different these days with the young folk in cities.

  3. Deeps Says:

    Hmmm very interesting question. As usual I'll put up a very personal POV here.

    In the 2 years I have been married, my hubby and I have shared everything. Every decison that was made was after discussion and even though he generally gets his way, it doesn't mean I am a push-over. He does listen to my opinion and it counts. This holds for simple day-to-day decisons (like buying something) and some serious decisons as well (for eg, like moving to US). If I don't really have any objections, only then I say "whatever you decide".

    I feel a marriage is based on respect and what better way to show the respect than respect one's opinions? I know a friend who always says "My hubby decided that this was best" or "My inlaws said don't do this" and it frustrates me. Is this because I'm too independent? No its just that I want my friend to have her opinions and make her decisons, instead of always depending on others. I want her to say "we decided to do something".

    My story is that my parents have also had this "mutual consulting decison making process", so maybe I'm not willing to accept anything else..

    As for email, we both have our personal emails and we share one common email too. We know each others' passwords to our personal emails. Generally we don't intrude on each others' privacy. But we have nothing to hide from each other, so its pretty natural for my hubby to ask me to download something from his mail or viceversa..

    Hmm I don't really think I'm insecure. I love sharing little/big things with my hubby. Yes we are open, but there are no restrictions saying you HAVE to share everything. My personal space is not intruded just because I share things. Its just that its my choice and again my decison :).

  4. passerby55 Says:

    USha, IS Argumentation-3 on the way ... haha

    IN most/many cases I see and trust that the WOMAN is the boss of the House. DO we always share everything with the boss? I guess many intellgient DON't. And a good wife always knows this.

    LOL. a very good argument.But i think a married, happy couple will always think .."I share everything but I guess the other party is not"
    I think the wife in me is talking!

  5. Hip Grandma Says:

    I agree with Mahadevan.Openness is welcome but it does give a kind of satisfaction to have a certain amount of space that you can call your own.As long as one's intentions are good a degree of freedom will help sustain marriage.

  6. Usha Says:

    Yes passerby there will be argumentations 3 and 4 and...on anything where I need another point of view.
    Mahadevan and Hipgrandma: I am familiar with this kind of situation. Particularly in an arranged marriage as in our times when we learnt to live with our differences - I know an aunt who is passionate about music and her husband is passionate about reading. Each is happy to let the other do what they love without being involved in the activity.And their friends circle is also totally different.

    Vidya: I guess the middle path is arrived when there is mutual confidence and each knows that the private space is not intended to exclude the other. I guess when there is agreement on the goals and priorities and the relationship is safe and sound, one does not feel insecure about not sharing every minute thing.
    As for the point you had an issue with, I completely understand what you are saying. When I said it "worked" i meant to say that they could get away with that kind of thing at that time not in a positive way. Like someone said the absence of divorce in that generation did not necessarily mean that they were all happily married.

    Deepa; That helped a lot. Thanks for sharing. But would you be hurt if he didnt share something with you at anytime or would you be ok with it as you would know there must be a reason for his not doing it? Just hypothetically and when I say "you" I mean your generation as you can speak better for them.

  7. cm chap Says:

    Hi..Landed n ur blog thru someone's link...Real Good one...The words and your flow inspired me. Decided to come back for more reading

  8. Bijesh Says:

    i *used* to think that there should not be a need to hide anything between a couple. Then I seem to have realised that, like mahadevan said, the intention could be genuine and perhaps necessary for the other's peace of mind. Yet what if something that had been not been shared, however innocent and insignificant, resurfaces? What if it resurfaces with a bigger significance? how do you handle that?

    I don't think I can think of a yes/no answer. Maybe this is another question without answers.

  9. Chitra Says:

    Since the time I have known my husband, he has been the only one I have wanted to tell most everything, things that matter to me, things that bother me, things that I need to talk aloud and clarify with. There really is very few things about which I have to keep him in the dark. However, when it comes to another person's privacy, somebody who means a lot to me and has confided something in me, I guess in such matters alone, I do keep things to myself mostly to respect the other person's privacy. That is also the reason, why we totally believe in having our own individual emails, so that the person writing to us doesn't feel weird about writing to a couple, especially if somebody really wants to write only to one of us. However, we do know each other's passwords, but we rarely do open the other's mail box.

    I cannot see how the olden system of 'whatever you decide' can work in today's world. (I am not sure if it worked well even then!) If I really do think it best that my hub makes a call on some matter, I leave it to him, and he does the same too. Otherwise, we talk about everything. I ask him about everything, including what I have decided to pay the maid, etc. He is always asking for my opinion too, even for travel dates for his work! :)

  10. Inder Says:

    that reminds me of one of the episodes of 'neeya naana' in vijay tv. the topic was 'should there be privacy among married couples'. majority opined that there need not/should not be any privacy. i wonder how it will be possible. some even equated the tendency to look for privacy as arrogance... i don't know...

  11. janaki Says:

    Hi, came across your blog on a friend's recommendation. This particular thought process is very close to my heart. My husband and me have been married for 15 years, and ours was very much an arranged marriage. I think the basis for a good relationship, whether marriage or otherwise is respect and faith. If one is respected for the individual that he/ she is, and for the way they are - then, the individualness, the space, and the lack of space is all appreciated. If there is too much of an individuality, then there is no sharing, and no joy in being a couple. But at the same time, if a couple can seemlessly move in and out of each other's lives, give space when needed, one can make it work. Its not easy, as we are still discovering! but there's joy in trying for the same thing !

  12. Usha Says:

    cmchap:Please come back. and from where did you come here?

    Biju: You are right. There is no single rule for all this. depends on the people involved and how they prefer it.

    Chitra: That must be really nice to have someone who'd listen to all that you want to say right? Ya what worked in my mom's time, won't work anymore

    Inder: That is an interesting point. I guess they mistake the need for space to be an intention to hide.

    Janaki:Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experience. Like Vidya said before , we arrive at the "golden mean" over a period of time. It comes with understanding.

  13. CatGunHome Says:

    No, because as Chanakya said, "Do not be very upright in your dealings for you would see by going to the forest that straight trees are cut down while crooked ones are left standing."

  14. Usha Says:

    hiya pankaz the cuckoo, welcome back. Always good to see you.
    When did Chanakya say it ? in your private conversations on yahoo chat??

  15. Shiv Says:

    something tat I wrote long back!!

  16. You know what, I married my best friend of 6 yrs. We've been married another 6, so that makes 12 yrs of knowing each other. But I would say that I revealed my soul to my friend, but not anymore after he became my husband. We still share umpteen things, he knows my passwords and my blogs, I know his, but...after marriage, the family tended to intrude and certain issues became touchy. So now, I refrain from sharing my feelings abt his family affairs. He doesn't tell me all abt their affairs, while I still tell all abt my side of the family- the pluses and the minuses. Maybe because right now the minuses in his family are more than the pluses. But I know that he would have shared everything with his friend before she became his wife, and that she could have spoken her mind out and he would have understood and accepted too and not said that she was being judgemental, which he does now.

  17. Usha Says:

    JlT: I suppose it is possible to be more objective when you are a non involved party like a friend but as a spouse there is always involvement and subjectivity.Sad no?