Before this goes any further, let me qualify that question.
–I’m not talking about religion or conversations in the booth with your priest.
–And I’m not only talking about your soul.
I’m talking about confession on a more interpersonal level. Relationships. Deceit. Guilt. Confession. Truth.
Mostly romantic relationships, but it can really be any relationship.
Guilt has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember. Even before my OCD was diagnosed, and long after, part of my ritual to expel guilt was that I needed a confessor. My mom usually fulfilled this role, even though most often the guilt du jour had nothing to do with her. Often my confessions were embarrassing and tedious, to both me and my chosen confessor, and were more often then not unnecessary, as my guilt was more a product of my OCD than anything I had actually done wrong. Though my OCD is now better controlled, there are still times of high stress where I feel a formless guilt and a compulsion to “confess” something to the most important people in my life.
However, the majority of people experience guilt normally, in response to appropriate things, and in varying degrees. What they do in response to that guilt is as individual a thing as the guilt itself. Especially when the guilt involves a close romantic partner or spouse. Relationships are complicated and successful relationships and lasting romantic connection take work. When asked, most people would likely agree (at least out loud) that honesty is the best policy, although some of those people would likely also tell you there is such a thing as too much honesty. I’m guessing there are many people, men and women, that would admit having told a “white lie” now and then, to spare their partner’s feelings.
Do you think I’ve gained weight?
Does my hair look thinner to you?
What do you think of my mother?
Sure, honey, dinner was good.
Yeah, I got off…
While I do agree with the use of tact and sensitivity, I am personally not a fan of the “white lie.” I don’t lie to my husband, even about little things. You may not believe me, and that’s okay, but I think I already demonstrated that I have a pretty overactive conscience with regards to some people. That’s just me. I don’t know if it’s the norm or not, or how many people do tell white lies to their spouse with little ill-effect on their conscience, and I am making no judgments.
What I am curious about are the big things? Lies about our past…hiding money…cheating…
Any secrets or lies that would seriously damage a relationship, or at the very least, hurt you or your spouse emotionally if they ever came out.
There seem to be two main school of thought regarding secrets, lies, and whether or not to confess. Some people feel that confessing, telling the truth, clearing the air, is the only right thing to do. If you love someone, you don’t hide things from them or lie to them. Period.
Then there is the school of thought that confession is actually a selfish act, done more to assuage the guilt of the “confessee” than out of any desire or need to right a wrong. That there is no point in hurting the wronged party more by confessing, when nothing can actually be gained from truth coming out. For example, you cheated on your spouse. It was a mistake, a one time thing, you feel horrible, and you know it will never happen again. What will confessing do but hurt your spouse, your relationship?
(We won’t go into the school of thought that is “deny, deny, deny,” even when confronted with evidence. I think people that do that are operating with a questionable moral compass to begin with. That’s all about self preservation, and guilt doesn’t much factor into it.)
Personally, I always advocate honesty, but if there was going to be criteria on “when to tell the truth,” I’d say the deciding factor should be the answer to one question.
Would the relationship change significantly, would feelings or actions of either party be different if the were the truth known?
After all, how can a relationship be secure, be real, if both parties are not operating with all the facts ? Would your girlfriend leave you if she knew you cheated? Would your husband forgive you if he knew you went off the pill even after he said he wanted no more children?
Anyway, I am curious to know what you guys think. Consider this sort of an informal reader poll…
To tell or not to tell…
Talk to the Queen.