Years ago, I heard an interview with Will and Jada Smith in which she teased him for his "crush" on Beyonce. Many were a bit aghast. And admittedly, it's not too often we see a wife tease her husband for having a crush on another woman. Berate him, perhaps. Ridicule him. Act hurt by it. But a good-natured tease?
The couple explained that they have total honesty in their marriage (I know, I know. They live in Hollywood...but I'm withholding skepticism!). They talked about how, if they find themselves attracted to someone else, they talk about it.
I was conflicted, at the time. As far as I knew, my husband had never cheated. As far as I believed, he'd never found another woman as attractive as I. (It's almost embarrassing to write that. How naive was I???) And frankly, if my husband did find another woman attractive, I'm not sure I wanted to know about it. After all, I figured, what could be gained by knowing that?
Now, however, I see things a bit differently. And I would want to know. In fact, it's something my husband and I have talked about. And though it kinda makes me squirm (his taste in women is...well...surprising. If I was a man, I'm not sure I'd find the women he likes at ALL attractive. However...vive la difference), I confess I feel "safer" having had the discussion.
Plenty of marriage experts back me up. And plenty others disagree.
The two schools of thought are thus.
#1: No secrets: This school of thought purports that ANY secrets in a marriage can lead to trouble. Lying, or lying by omission, can include anything such as how much money you really spent on a pair of shoes or about whether you'd like to curl up with someone other than your spouse.
I confess I find this a bit drastic. I'm not convinced that my husband needs to know EVERY thought that goes through my head that might be construed as a potential threat...but perhaps it comes down to our own ability to recognize which notions are an actual threat...and which ones are harmless and should be kept under wraps. For example, I did confess to my husband that I was finding myself very attracted to another man. Ironically, that's what initially led us to couples counselling and THEN all the dirt about my husband's extracurriculars came out. But I knew that something was wrong in our marriage and I wasn't comfortable with how I was feeling about this other man...
#2: Judicious sharing: This school of thought maintains that there is such a thing as too much information. Sharing every time we're attracted to someone else can start to seem like manipulation or hurtful – a way to keep a spouse constantly off-balance. I've known couples who do this in the name of being "mature" and "open" but I've also been aware that on some level, it's really only one of them who's sharing the info and the other seems victimized. Perhaps it depends on the level of security both already feel in the relationship.
In any case, I do tend towards the first conviction – I'd rather err on the side of too much information than too little. Especially now that I know what I know...
What about you? If you remain married, do you want to hear every time your husband feels attracted to someone else? If your husband is a sex addict, do you want to know about it every time he feels a desire to act out? Or is that what sponsors and friends are for? Too much information? Or not enough...