Before Bruce Jenner came out as transgender to the entire world, at some point during each of his marriages, he felt compelled to share his true self with his wife. Although the marriages could not withstand the impact (this was no run of the mill confession!), what's important is that there was disclosure, communication, and understanding. The marriages dissolved, but the love remains to this day.
That kind of openness and honesty is missing from too many marriages. And while I'm aware that keeping a certain amount of privacy is crucial to maintaining some mystery and longing, relationships fare best when people err on the side of transparency. I speak from personal experience. My first husband caught me cheating at the tail end of our relationship (turns out, he was having an affair, too) and the communication was never great, since he was much more of a "daddy" figure and I wasn't very good at talking about my needs and desires in those days, including (what should have been) a refusal to sign a prenup agreement. During my second marriage, there was an inability on his part to even hear the names of past lovers (yes, many of them were recognizable, but...) without getting angry.
So, here's how lack of disclosure can wreak havoc on your relationship. Not just from hidden love affairs, but from covert behavior in the following areas:
1. FINANCES. You're in the relationship boat together and you need to have full disclosure on finances. It's a very tough subject to broach but it is essential for long-term relationships and keeping the faith and trust ongoing. If you have a problem with gambling and you're in charge of the books, and your spouse has no idea that the two of you are almost broke, it could be disastrous. Money represents so much to so many of us -- so, get used to having "money talks," because this is essential to a partnership. (If you're interested, I co-wrote a book on this subject: "You Can't Afford to Break Up: How an Empty Wallet and a Dirty Mind Can Save Your Relationship.")
2. HEALTH. You'd be surprised at how many people keep health issues from their partner. Frequently, men don't like to acknowledge that they have health problems and procrastinate on those doctor appointments. Or they go into complete denial and pretend that everything is okay when it's not. As we all know, when it comes to any health issue, from the innocuous to the severe, it's necessary to get something checked out before it potentially becomes more serious.
3. INSECURITIES. We all have our insecurities about any number of things and it's always better to share these things with our partner, who can help dispel the concern -- or at least give us some objectivity on it. Women often feel uneasy about their weight or worry that they may smell. Men can be anxious about the size of their penis or even their income. And we all may be feeling unsure about ourselves in the workplace. It's only natural to want to please our mate, and many of our insecurities show up when we are being intimate. If you want to have more fun in the bedroom, find the right time and place and talk about what's making you uneasy.
4. SEXUAL FANTASIES. Some fantasies are okay to keep to ourselves, but if you have an understanding, open minded partner, it's SO much more fun to share them and explore them -- either by keeping them in the fantasy realm or by acting out on them together. If your partner is your best friend (and, honestly, that's crucial to maintaining a strong bond), they will want to know what's on your mind -- in and out of bed. When sharing personal desires, it is vital that both parties show maturity and sensitivity toward the other -- especially when they are baring their soul and are allowing themselves to be vulnerable.
5. COMMUNICATION. Social media has invaded our world and wreaked havoc upon the private lives of many. A few years ago, a minister in New Jersey required a ban on Facebook for all his congregants because he has so many married members who were getting involved with their exes. I think it's essential to share the fact that your high school sweetheart has contacted you on LinkedIn, or that you are in contact with your ex-husband via email. The content of the communication doesn't need to be disclosed, but you don't want to blindside your significant other if you happen to get "re-acquainted" with an old flame. Keep your mate in the loop about what's going on. If you maintain a strong friendship, you can get through all kinds of petty (and not so petty) jealousies.
In conclusion, you want to keep the balance between being open and being a bit enigmatic. Hopefully, what you share will not scare your beloved away but, rather, will draw your dearest nearer.