You know just about everything there is to know about your husband, from his likes and dislikes, to his first sexual experience and even how much he has in his savings account.

Yet there are some information that you might not be privy to. They say the truth hurts, but if you’re in a loving, stable and committed relationship, is it too much to know what your husband might be secretly thinking or feeling?

Should couples be completely open with one another? Singapore women and
relationship counsellors share why some boundaries should be kept. Image: Corbis

WHAT FOUR SINGAPORE WOMEN THINK ABOUT SECRETS BETWEEN COUPLES
Although Singaporean teacher Savita Gupta, 42, believes that it’s totally normal to find someone other than your spouse attractive, she would rather he kept quiet about it, because “what I don’t know can’t hurt me.”

Singaporean stylist Nicole Chok, 25, on the other hand, says that she would want to know about her husband’s fantasies about other women so that she can “make them a reality for him and in the process improve our relationship.

Two other Singaporean women that we’d asked had preferred their husbands to be more forthcoming about their family and friends because it could be “helpful to find out” so that they can “improve the situation”.

We ask two Singapore experts to weigh in on this marital issue of over-sharing. While their opinions on the subject differ, they both agree that how you react to “the hard truth” depends on certain factors, like how secure you are about yourself and the state of your relationship with your spouse.

THE EXPERTS SAY
1. “BE OPEN WITH EACH OTHER; THERE SHOULD BE NO SECRETS”

Senior counsellor Diana Chandra says that it’s not so much about knowing or not knowing, but rather, the effect that this information will have on you. If you can handle the information well and not allow it to trigger your own insecurities, then perhaps you wouldn’t mind knowing your husband’s private thoughts.

An air of mystery within a marriage is connected to the thrill of discovery and the enjoyment of learning new things about each other. Secrets, however, are about keeping information from each other for fear of being ‘discovered’, and is typically associated with guilt.

If your hubby tells you that he finds another woman attractive, how you interpret it depends on the intention behind the statement, and his tone and body language. Did he say it to hurt you? Or was it said in a light-hearted, fun or teasing manner?

Next, ask yourself how it makes you feel – if you’re insecure, you might feel anxious or afraid; if not, his statement may provide a subject for discussion (e.g. you could ask him what he finds attractive about her). Any statement is open to interpretation, and depending on what you feel about your body, you can interpret his answer negatively or positively.

Bottom line, it’s not what your husband thinks per se, but the relationship you two have and how you feel about yourself that determines how you interpret this information. Transparency and openness in a relationship is a constantly evolving process which can build trust and emotional intimacy between couples.

2. “COUPLES SHOULD TRY TO MAINTAIN SOME BOUNDARIES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP”
Therapist Vijoo George says that as individuals, “we must keep a sense of personal space – emotionally speaking – and I believe this is even more important when you’re talking about a marriage. Without it, there would not be any mystery in the relationship.”

There might also be a sense of having to live up to your spouse’s expectations of you. Would you be able to share certain opinions and fantasies with your spouse without fear of being judged? And likewise, would you judge if he shared certain thoughts?

How wide or narrow this space is, depends on you and your husband, and what you’ve agreed on. It also depends on how comfortable you are with each other, and how close the two of you are.

If you knew what your husband thought about what your butt looks like in your jeans, how would you cope with that information? Similarly, if you knew your husband was fantasising about another woman while in bed with you, how would it affect your lovemaking in the future?

Would you feel so hurt that you might even consider leaving the relationship? So ask yourself, will the information be helpful or destructive? If you think you will have trouble accepting the truth, you might be better off not knowing.

If the situation is reversed and your husband asks you certain sensitive questions, you can always let him know you aren’t comfortable and perhaps talk about maintaining some kind of boundaries in the relationship. There should always be mutual respect for each other’s feelings.

Diana Chandra is a senior counsellor at Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre. The centre is located at 177 River Valley Road, #05-19 Liang Court, Singapore 179030; Tel: 6788 8220; website: www.emcc.org.sg, email: reachus@emcc.org.sg.

Vijoo George is a therapist from Family Life Society, 2 Highland Road #LG-01 Singapore 549102; Tel: 6488 0278; email: fls@familylife.sg, website: www.familylife.sg.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer July 2011.