Do I Have to Share Everything?
Successful relationships involve sharing: many partners share their home,, meals, possessions, and responsibilities. But should they share everything?
People entering a committed relationship for the first time often have an image of an ideal relationship in mind. They may believe sharing everything, including all their thoughts and feelings, is not only desirable, but necessary. Learning to communicate opinions, desires, and feelings is an important part of becoming a good partner. Knowing what to keep private is also important.
Complete and total frankness is not always a good idea. What you talk about in individual therapy may be accompanied by raw, unprocessed emotions. Talking these emotions through can help you understand the source of feelings like anger, frustration or discomfort. Sharing them with your spouse before talking through the source of the feelings could be damaging to a relationship.
One of the issues a married person may wish to discuss is problems in their marriage. Sorting out the causes of recurring problems in a relationship often leads a person to examine their personal history. As personal history is explored, difficult events or emotions may surface. Talking about them in therapy can lead to a better understanding of your patterns and interactions. Working through this process during individual sessions with a trained therapist can help you choose the parts you wish to share. It can also help you determine what issues still need to be worked on. Before discussing the issues that come up in therapy, it helps to understand what triggers old patterns when interacting with a spouse.
What if my Spouse Asks What I Talk About?
It can be difficult to answer a direct question about what you discuss in therapy, especially if the question is unexpected. Find out what the question is about. Asking a question in return can help you understand what your spouse has in mind. A question like, “What would you like to know?” can lead to a clearer picture for you. Perhaps your spouse is worried. Perhaps they are simply interested in understanding the therapy process, especially if they are not in therapy themselves. Or maybe they want to understand you better. Determining the thought behind the question first may ease any tension created by the inquiry.
Once you understand more about the question, you can decide how you want to answer. Sometimes your therapist will ask you not to discuss the session in the outside world. If this is the case, you can simply state this. Another way to answer the question is to give a broad picture of topics you are comfortable sharing. An example is, “I’m working on learning to communicate better with others, including you.” Or, “There are some behavior patterns I’ve become aware of that learned as a child I want to change so they won’t affect our relationship negatively.” If you aren’t comfortable sharing anything just yet, the reply might be, “I haven’t sorted it out quite yet.”
However you decide to handle sharing or not sharing the details of your individual sessions, your therapist can help you think about what you want. You may want to discuss it before questions arise. Respecting a partner’s privacy is important. Giving yourself that same respect is also important.