I have a question that I hope you won’t feel too trivial to answer and to publish in your column. I feel this dilemma comes up more often than we care to admit or bring up in discussion with our friends.
The other day I shared something in confidence with a close friend, stressing that I really did not want her to carry it further. The next thing I knew, my husband asked me about it, saying he’d heard it from my friend’s husband. I was totally floored. It wasn’t something I cared for my husband to know.
When I asked my friend why she’d betrayed my confidence, she looked taken aback and said she only told her husband and that telling no one would not include him, that I should have taken that into consideration when I confided in her.
So my question to you is who’s in the right? Should I have taken it for granted that she would repeat what I said to her husband? For one, I’d asked her not to tell anybody. Moreover, I feel strongly that a wife does not need to tell her husband everything.
My friend says had I said something about not divulging my “secret” to her spouse, she certainly wouldn’t have. But that I should have known he is not included in “no one.”
Dear Feeling Betrayed,
You are asking me who is in the right. I am not sure there is a right or wrong here (and I suspect I might be hearing plenty for saying so).
I’ve learned long ago that when you confide in a married someone you need to emphasize “no one, not even your spouse.” Since you did not, your friend assumed her husband didn’t count, as she considers him a part of herself. K’ish echad.
That aside, is it right to withhold something from a spouse? We need only look back at our history, at our matriarchs and patriarchs. Avraham did not reveal to Sara that he was embarking on a mission to sacrifice their son Yitzchak on the alter.
Rivkah likewise did not let Yitzchak in on her advice to Yaakov to deceive his father. She simply (or not so simply) felt it was the right thing to do.
If a wife or husband withholds something from one another to avoid hurting the other or creating a shalom bayis issue, would that be considered folly?
What works for one may not work for another. The best scenario is to consider and treat your spouse as your best friend. If your “secret” involves your spouse, don’t divulge it to anyone. Keep your marital relationship sacred. And if you need counsel, confide in a professional, not in a friend.