“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” - George Orwell
Your heart palpitates, eyes dilate, cheeks flush, palms sweat. Do you have dengue fever or are you in love? Most of us have experienced the giddy whirl of romance. This heady part of love is biological and lasts about 1 ½ years. And then?
A new book by Iris Krasnow (The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married) suggests that an affair can spice up a marriage (whether acted upon or platonic) and make it stronger for the long haul. Krasnow is a journalist who interviewed over 200 women and spent 2 years researching the subject.
What would you do if you were sure your partner would not find out? A surprising number of people answer, “Have an affair.” 65% of women and 80% of men. How many actually do? According to a Newsweek article, 60% of men and 50% of women will have an affair during their marriage. Is there a way to avoid these troubling statistics and have the kind of marriage you believed in when you fell in love?
No one can be everything to you. Growing together is rarely at the same pace. This is where many couples falter - and why secrets can be good for a marriage.
After the crazy- in-love phase, the passion centers in the brain subside, and other parts light up that have to do with long-term commitment. But it can feel like a crash landing - that sex is not as hot, strangers look cuter and - you know what I mean. It’s no wonder many couples ask: Where did the magic go? And no wonder there is a part of us striving to find it again. Maintaining your sense of independence and passion for life is a strong part of any happy relationship.
''In a very deep sense, you don't have a self unless you have a secret, and we all have moments throughout our lives when we feel we're losing ourselves in our social group, or work or marriage, and it feels good to grab for a secret, or some subterfuge, to reassert our identity as somebody apart,'' says Harvard psychology professor Dr. Daniel M. Wegner.
Some women go shopping and hide their purchases in the trunk of the car. Others get botox. Some spend time on the Internet, experimenting with alternative lives in avatar form. Others have affairs or flirtations that spark a better sex life with their partners, according to Krasnow’s book. The author admits to having a platonic boyfriend - to her it’s the way to have an affair without having an affair.
But psychologists also say that honesty is one of the most basic tenets of a healthy lasting relationship. How does all of this weigh in? For me, there is a difference between small lies and the kind of secrets that can end your marriage. Lies that are okay to tell your husband: I think it’s cute you put on sympathy weight while I was pregnant. That ear hair makes you look distinguished. Oh, these new shoes and dress? They only cost $15. Can you believe it!
Every couple is different and each must find what works for them. Yes, lust fades, but long-term commitment has its beauty and passions too. Getting to know your partner in deeper ways, seeing him as he is and continuing to love, and facing life’s challenges together are some of the most powerful experiences in life. By all means, keep the magic going. Don’t let your marriage become routine. Passion and love have many phases, but sneaking around (at least for me) isn’t one of them. If you feel your marriage is in trouble, seek counsel, make changes, spice it up for sure, do whatever it takes, but be true.