Too Much Info My spouse reveals some embarrassing information about me that was supposed to stay between us. BY DR. KAREN SHERMAN
Sometimes a spouse is all to happy to spill private information
It seems like whenever we're in a group, my spouse reveals some embarrassing information about me that was supposed to stay between us. What can I do?
You're there with a bunch of friends when suddenly, all of the attention is drawn in your direction and you’re met with pointing fingers and laughs. The situation raised is one that unfortunately happens in many relationships.
When couples first meet, they're usually on their best behavior. But as we grow closer, we can let our guard down and any formalities we started off with can also disappear. In a relationship, there are special rules that we adapt that pertain to us, but not others. These include positive things like cute names we call one another and private signals that have meaning only to our spouse. We also share the freedom to be ourselves—including our imperfections. We feel safe to assume that these couple norms are private.
However, when these private details are made public and being shared with friends or family, it can be embarrassing. It can feel like the privacy of your relationship has been breached and violated. Certainly, it’s far more devastating if the information revealed is what you consider to be negative, though, positive information can also make you uncomfortable, especially when you want to keep it private. After all, you originally shared this information in confidence and thought it would stay that way.
Recently, I was at a workshop where someone stated that humiliating your partner in public was worse than having an affair! Many times, when your partner opens up about private details, it’s not done intentionally to hurt you. Sometimes, he/she doesn’t even realize that the information was supposed to be private. Or, perhaps, he/she was only meaning to make a joke. So here’s how you might handle it for the future:
At the time it happens, either let it go or try to be humorous. If you "get grabbed" and respond, it will only intensify the situation and make you feel worse.
After the event, be sure to speak to your partner about the incident. In order to make sure they hear you, assume they did not do this intentionally and calmly raise it without attacking them. If you attack them, he/she will only get defensive and you will not get your point across. You can try saying something like, "Maybe you didn’t realize this information was supposed to stay between us, but when you said ___________, it made me feel___________."
Work out a signal with one another so that if you hear your partner starting to do
the same thing again, you can warn them (understand that if a person is
unaware, it may take a few times for them to change their behavior).
If after several attempts, there is no change on your partner’s behalf, it’s time to
have a discussion where you let him/her know that this is real important to you and the lack of effort to change feels like you are being disrespected (I would still use #2 as the way to approach the discussion).
Yes, this is a difficult issue, but it can be resolved. A good relationship is not one without problems, but one where the couple knows how to deal with the problems when they come up!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.