Privacy amongst spouses?

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Mark, here's some opinions to get you started;

Privacy among spouses:

-For the YES answer - spouses should never let the other one see them use the toilet. And when having a baby, wives PLEASE, PLEASE don't insist that your husband watch or film, just let him hold your hand at the head of the bed. Also, if your wife has female friends who are undergoing trials, some confidentiality can be a good thing so that your wife can talk and bless them.

I know of some women who feel that they must hide a stash of money away from their husbands lest they spend it all. I guess that might be a necessity sometimes for some situations, but generally it is neither honoring to the husband or the wife.

-For the NO answer - I believe wife/husband email accounts and facebook accounts ought to be known and checkable by the other. I believe it is unhealthy sometimes for some husbands to have their own computer in their own room. I believe in joint checking accounts and having both names on the property.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Any thoughts on this?
Dearest Mark,

I can confidently answer on this portion of your post that Yes, there are thoughts on it. I hope this proves abundantly helpful.
Joshua, the sublimity of your pithy effusions of profound sagacity are, if I may say sans ostentatious verbosity, increased exponentially.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Dearest Mark,

I can confidently answer on this portion of your post that Yes, there are thoughts on it. I hope this proves abundantly helpful.
Wow, what a Hick.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
As a starter, I'm a little disappointed in the fact that a serious question from a longtime, thoughtful, and respectful poster has gotten only one serious answer out of 8 other posts.

Mark, here's some opinions to get you started;

Privacy among spouses:

-For the YES answer - spouses should never let the other one see them use the toilet. And when having a baby, wives PLEASE, PLEASE don't insist that your husband watch or film, just let him hold your hand at the head of the bed. Also, if your wife has female friends who are undergoing trials, some confidentiality can be a good thing so that your wife can talk and bless them.

I know of some women who feel that they must hide a stash of money away from their husbands lest they spend it all. I guess that might be a necessity sometimes for some situations, but generally it is neither honoring to the husband or the wife.

-For the NO answer - I believe wife/husband email accounts and facebook accounts ought to be known and checkable by the other. I believe it is unhealthy sometimes for some husbands to have their own computer in their own room. I believe in joint checking accounts and having both names on the property.
Being unmarried myself, but thinking through some of these issues in light of preparation for possible marriage in the future, I think this is a wise list.

The first two boundaries seem to really hit on the fact that marriage should include a respect for the spouse's dignity. To expand on one of the others, husbands should be able to keep certain male friend confidences just as with a wife caring for women going through trials. Similar application would apply to legal or professional confidences. But confidences (other people's secrets) are very different from secrets (things separating the spouses from one another and held against each other).

While I don't think it's a moral wrong to have separate property among spouses, I have seen how it can be a real stumbling block and subtle tool of manipulation.
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
To answer the question, I'm with Pergamum.

Joshua, the sublimity of your pithy effusions of profound sagacity are, if I may say sans ostentatious verbosity, increased exponentially.
1) I will have to use this sentence with my SAT students for a vocabulary lesson, with proper attribution, of course.

2) I will also use it for a grammar lesson, though probably not in a flattering way. Sublimity is.

A plural object of a preposition (in this case, effusions) tricks the writer into believing it is the subject because of its proximity to the verb.

After removing the prepositional phrases and the appositive, we are left with the main sentence: "The sublimity are increased exponentially." Removing the fluff makes the error easier to see.

However, you have now given me inspiration to refer to the wise folks here as 'the sublimity.' If it referred to people instead of the state of being sublime, the verb would work.

Instead of the Westminster Divines, we have the Puritanboard Sublimes, and I will always value the wisdom of the Sublimity.
 

bug

Puritan Board Freshman
Is there any room for the idea of privacy amongst spouses? Any thoughts on this?
Is it healthy for the church try and keep things secret and private from the Lord Jesus Christ? Isn't marriage simply a picture of the relationshipo between us (the church) and Christ?
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
Is it healthy for the church try and keep things secret and private from the Lord Jesus Christ? Isn't marriage simply a picture of the relationshipo between us (the church) and Christ?
This reminded me of a specific example where I think secrecy is fine.

I know a man who overheard something terrible (and wrong) said about his wife that would have been very painful to her if she had heard it. They would not have future dealings with this malicious talker, who was not in their social circle at all.

Should the husband keep such information to himself, or give his wife all sorts of pain for the sake of openness?
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I know a man who overheard something terrible (and wrong) said about his wife that would have been very painful to her if she had heard it. They would not have future dealings with this malicious talker, who was not in their social circle at all.

Should the husband keep such information to himself, or give his wife all sorts of pain for the sake of openness?
I wouldn't think so. Is it ever right to be a talebearer and cause wounds?

But I don't think we should liken the absolute all seeingness of the Lord, and our entire trust in Him, to the husband and wife relationship too mechanically. No human relationship will ever bear that level of trust, or openness. I love my husband dearly; but I am about as offended at the suggestion that the sins of my soul, which belong by right to my Saviour who died for them and buried them out of sight and does not 'bring them into the streets', should be laid open to him, as I would be if someone tried to get me to confess them to a priest. Did Ruben have my sins nailed to His cross? The same goes for many of my joys and desires, which are before Him who made me and gave Himself for me. I belong body and soul entirely to my Lord; and this belonging is the only comfort that can stand up to death or life. It is indeed the only comfort that can stand up to the harder moments of marriage.

I also don't see how a friendship can survive if there is not trust functioning with regard to what a spouse keeps to themselves. Trust cuts both ways. It takes trust to be vulnerable about some things and it takes trust to allow another person not to reveal everything to us: we trust their motives and their heart, in keeping some things from us.

Surely trust functions differently between different people. Some people by nature are able to have a wider range of close friendships or to confide in different people about different things. Ruben is the friend on whom I still lean most heavily as well as my husband; if I couldn't share something with him I am unlikely to share it with anyone (and when I have taken 'personality profiles', this is always quite consistent with my 'type' -- a lot of marriage advice runs roughshod over the fact that different sorts of people do function very differently in relationships). It seems silly to have a wooden model when friendship is never a wooden relationship. It is the other person we trust, and the other person is always someone unique. I may be more independent in a few areas than some women; but in a great many more, I couldn't function with a lot of independence in this relationship: whereas another woman might need it.
 

bug

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it healthy for the church try and keep things secret and private from the Lord Jesus Christ? Isn't marriage simply a picture of the relationshipo between us (the church) and Christ?
This reminded me of a specific example where I think secrecy is fine.

I know a man who overheard something terrible (and wrong) said about his wife that would have been very painful to her if she had heard it. They would not have future dealings with this malicious talker, who was not in their social circle at all.

Should the husband keep such information to himself, or give his wife all sorts of pain for the sake of openness?
So we have a case of malcious gossip - how should the husband deal with it? Should he keeo quiet about what he has heard in the hope it will never get back to his wife because she will be hurt. It is amazing how often our efforts to protect people fail. Or, if the person gossiping is a christain, should they be confronted about their sin so that it is clearly identified as such and so it will never get back to wife except as someones sinful actions?

Personnaly I think the issue is not as simple as you make out my friend, I know from experience that my wife for one would wish I had told her, rather then potentially finding out from someone else, and she would certainly be rightly furious with me if I did nothing to stop the rumour.

---------- Post added at 01:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:33 PM ----------

I know a man who overheard something terrible (and wrong) said about his wife that would have been very painful to her if she had heard it. They would not have future dealings with this malicious talker, who was not in their social circle at all.

Should the husband keep such information to himself, or give his wife all sorts of pain for the sake of openness?
I wouldn't think so. Is it ever right to be a talebearer and cause wounds?
'talebaerer' no, never - a witness of a sin that needs to be dealt with yes. If the scripture forbid that then there would never any need for Church discipline would there.

But I don't think we should liken the absolute all seeingness of the Lord, and our entire trust in Him, to the husband and wife relationship too mechanically. No human relationship will ever bear that level of trust, or openness. I love my husband dearly; but I am about as offended at the suggestion that the sins of my soul, which belong by right to my Saviour who died for them and buried them out of sight and does not 'bring them into the streets', should be laid open to him, as I would be if someone tried to get me to confess them to a priest. Did Ruben have my sins nailed to His cross? The same goes for many of my joys and desires, which are before Him who made me and gave Himself for me. I belong body and soul entirely to my Lord; and this belonging is the only comfort that can stand up to death or life. It is indeed the only comfort that can stand up to the harder moments of marriage.
Perhaps you will demonstrate how my words could possibly be construed to mean anything of the above? I thought I was very clear in saying the relationship between the church and Christ is pictured in marriage, not the relationship between the individual believer and Christ.

Now I could go onto to talk about so many situations when even well intended secrets have caused so much hurt when they have come out. I could speak for hours on pastoral cases where 'keeping something secret to protect my spouse' has in reality been the hiding of personal sin. Such situations might lend colour to the discusion, but inevitably they also lend emotion to it as well, and that can side track the issue. Whilst there is much of value in what you say sister, can you establish from scripture a principle that a husband should keep anything from his wife, who has been given to him by God to be his companion and his 'helpmeet' - how can she help him if he doesn't share with her? How can he protect her, if he doesn't know what she needs to be protected from? How can he provide for her, physically, mentally and spiritually if she keeps it all bottled up inside. Don't well have to ask ourselves questions like, 'why can't I share this with my wife?' and clearly I am not talking about the vile wickedness of my heart here for that i would have to be saying my marriage is to be as my persoanl relationship with your lord and saviour is! No, I am saying just as the church is to be open to her saviour, so is a wife to be open to her husband.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Dear Pastor Jonathan,

I'm sincerely sorry to have phrased my reply in such a way that I seemed to be reflecting directly on your words. I think if one is not careful to qualify, wrong inferences are drawn from saying there should be the same sort of openness between husband and wife as between Christ and the church. And it is those inferences with which I take offense. You certainly did not directly draw them, and I should have been more careful to state that.

A husband should dwell with his wife 'according to knowledge'. For instance, you know about your wife that she would be unhappy to find out that someone had said something unkind about her from any other source than you. My husband knows about me that I really don't care to know if people say something unkind about me; and it doesn't matter to me how I do or don't find out about it. I don't see that it can profit the person saying such things, or myself, anything to know about it -- and if someone else told me instead of Ruben, and Ruben explained that he was trying to be kind and sparing, I would know that to be true of him (because he proves it daily), and it wouldn't hurt me that he is so. But I recognise that this, like so much else, has much to do with our created dispositions. I am more laidback about some things and more uptight about others than women I hold to be my examples.

The Bible never gives instructions for a husband to tell everything to his wife, nor vice versa. All the rules of prudence and wisdom in speech still apply in our closest relationships, and there is much about the prudence and wisdom of holding our tongues. A wife is to submit to her husband, so presumably she is to give account in certain things. For the rest, trust is a matter that has to be carried between two individuals. Presumably they know when their relationship is suffering from being unable to discuss things openly and having to bottle them up inside. I certainly know that in my own relationship.

I would imagine some lines of work actually require a husband to be less open with his wife about some matters -- some military positions for instance.

I had assumed, given the situation Jeremy described, that the gossip was not in the church, and able to be dealt with in that way: that it was something one had encountered in some other social realm. Christ had all sorts of evil spoken about Him, and so do His followers. Sometimes we must simply rest these things with Him. That was my own reasoning. I don't wish to argue these views as if I had some great wisdom: I read and comment on these threads because marriage is one of the few subjects I am practically engaged in, and I find so much of the 'do and don't' manuals we moderns are so fond of to be very inadequate for the broad range of people I know; but I always contribute without pretense solely on the merits of my username :).
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Perhaps you will demonstrate how my words could possibly be construed to mean anything of the above? I thought I was very clear in saying the relationship between the church and Christ is pictured in marriage, not the relationship between the individual believer and Christ.
Pastor, I didn't see any construal at all. If anything, it looked like Heidi was granting your point and adding a good qualification. It certainly didn't look like a response calling for a gauntlet toss.

In any event, the aspect Heidi brings up is well taken. The image of the church as bride is powerful and full of meaning, but the analog cannot go too far in human marriage. After all, the bride of Christ cannot in any fashion keep secrets from her husband.

But the Lord does have the prerogative of keeping certain things secret from his bride.

I don't think that you would use this aspect to advocate that the wife must confess all to her husband, but her husband gets to keep secrets.
 

Pilgrim's Progeny

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think privacy is OK if agreed upon, sort of like an open privacy. The spouse should know what the other is doing but does not always need to be a participant. Therefore, the question should have more to do with secrecy. I do not believe there should be secrecy among spouses. I agree with Pergamum
I believe wife/husband email accounts and facebook accounts ought to be known and checkable by the other. I believe it is unhealthy sometimes for some husbands to have their own computer in their own room. I believe in joint checking accounts and having both names on the property.
My wife and I should read like open books to one another.

How does this play out in matters of confidentiality. The other should be aware of these confidences but not in on them. There should be a mutual understanding between the two. Boundaries should be drawn as to the extent of these confidences before marriage is entered into. Maybe the future spouse is not comfortable with the other being exposed to certain subject matter. For example, I know of situation where one spouse was a counselor in the field of sexual deviant behaviors, you may not be comfortable with that, you should work these things out and not run right over your spouse for the sake of your profession.

I think the goal in all these things is to seek for greater transparency and vulnerability in marriage. In my short twelve years as a husband I have become much more transparent and vulnerable than I would have ever felt comfortable with in the first year of marriage.

I think an inductive study on the following text will go a long way to answering your question. You may be surprised at what you discover:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband. Eph 5:22-33 (NASB77)
 

Bethel

Puritan Board Freshman
I think that a marriage should be open and honest. The privacy should not be between the spouses, but with the couple as a whole. That's the biggest problem I see with the newly arrived marriage book. By divulging explicit details, the husband has not protected his wife or her reputation, but he has opened her life (and his) to public scrutiny when he should have kept those areas private. I know that the wife was in agreement with the book, but it's still a violation of trust within the marriage covenant and may come back to hurt them in the end.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Perhaps you will demonstrate how my words could possibly be construed to mean anything of the above? I thought I was very clear in saying the relationship between the church and Christ is pictured in marriage, not the relationship between the individual believer and Christ.
Pastor, I didn't see any construal at all. If anything, it looked like Heidi was granting your point and adding a good qualification. It certainly didn't look like a response calling for a gauntlet toss.

In any event, the aspect Heidi brings up is well taken. The image of the church as bride is powerful and full of meaning, but the analog cannot go too far in human marriage. After all, the bride of Christ cannot in any fashion keep secrets from her husband.

But the Lord does have the prerogative of keeping certain things secret from his bride.

I don't think that you would use this aspect to advocate that the wife must confess all to her husband, but her husband gets to keep secrets.
Thank you Vic; that is so well stated. I should probably add a clarification that I really do not mean to advocate that husbands and wives go about as a rule keeping 'secrets' from each other. I think that when things which work well as a matter of vulnerability or accountability between some people are made into blanket rules for all couples they wind up operating on a principle of suspicion rather than trust. It is precisely because I trust Ruben that it has never even occurred to me until this moment to wonder about his work email password. And at this moment I am not seized with a dire need to know. I do not presume that unless I am in his business, he can't conduct it with integrity. I believe charity, thinking no evil, is as vital to trust as openness. And because people have different needs for space or independence, that will look different from relationship to relationship.
 

Pilgrim's Progeny

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think that a marriage should be open and honest. The privacy should not be between the spouses, but with the couple as a whole. That's the biggest problem I see with the newly arrived marriage book. By divulging explicit details, the husband has not protected his wife or her reputation, but he has opened her life (and his) to public scrutiny when he should have kept those areas private. I know that the wife was in agreement with the book, but it's still a violation of trust within the marriage covenant and may come back to hurt them in the end.
That is a good observation, I see this from time to time, especially among young newlyweds. Sadly, this rhetoric gets things off to a hard beginning and typically shuts down intimacy that is much needed in the beginning.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
When my husband was younger he was in a situation where when walking from the train station to work in Philly, he would pass women dressed in nothing but lace up top, no bra, and he talked to me once about problems it created in his thought life. I realized then that I was not the best person to support him in any lust battles and I asked him to go a guy friend for help. I found it sooo painful at the time (I am more realistic now about how guys are wired). And when I was pregnant and vomiting with babies, and feeling like a beached whale, or going through moody cramps afterwards, he was so wonderfully kind and caring but what I really wanted was my girlfriends who understood.

I suppose this isn't a trust issue exactly, or privacy, so much as sometimes our genders and sexuality do affect us, no matter how close the marriage. Sometimes the God assigned command to comfort one another and encourage one another might best be done with a friend of the same sex. Overall the transparency and "naked souls" must be closest within the marriage, but on occasion, there is a place to not talk to the spouse but to a wise and caring friend.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
There is a difference between privacy and secrecy, though overlap occurs and semantics can make things complicated. As to privacy, some information perhaps should not be asked for (i.e., who are the last 10 people you lusted after), and as to secrecy, some information perhaps should not be withheld (i.e., the formation of an unhealthy relationship that needs to destroyed through repentance and prayer). Wisdom is needed in either case.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Re: Lynnie's comment, I do think it can be a mistake to assume one's wife is always up for being a confessor or counselor. It can damage love and trust, and create a lot of painful insecurity over a common struggle which must ultimately (whatever helps one can receive from others) be absolved and resolved before the Lord. It was with his own eyes, not with his wife, that Job made a covenant not to sin with them.

I think it is a misconception to believe that any kind of sins are primarily against any earthly person and must be treated as such down to our very thoughts. All sin is against 'Thee, Thee only'. Other people enter into it as we make things right with God.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
There are some things that may create a tension due to mystery, but are not sinful to keep as a secret. There is information that I was allowed to know for a job that would be a criminal act, if I shared it with my wife. She understood this and accepted it. It was not personal, it was purely business. If she asked me what I did at work today, I could answer vaguely, but I don't have to venture into details that would bait deeper questions, due to natural curiosity.
 

Constantlyreforming

Puritan Board Sophomore
My wife expects me to protect her from things that would be hurtful to her. SHe would not want to know if someone thought that she didn't dress up enough at a gathering, if I had heard someone say that. We should be careful to make excuses for protecting our spouses from what we do, however. For instance, "I just knew she would blow up at me if she knew I had spent $4,000 on that Geneva Bible...it was best her not knowing, to protect her...."

yeah, not Godly wisdom, there....
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
If a spouse is a controlling sort of person, privacy and secrecy are essential to maintaining one's sanity. What he doesn't know, he can't control. It goes for controlling women also. We had a neighbor whose wife micro-managed everything she knew about. So he didn't tell her much. They needed their metal roof painted. She would have been out there screaming at the workers and making enemies of the neighborhood, so he didn't tell her he was about to do it. She went away and came back to find it painted. He kept a lot secret from her, which put him at risk, but he had no viable alternative.
 
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