A friend asked me the other day, “Should I tell my wife [X]?” Insert your own words where the “X” is. It really doesn’t matter.
The answer is “YES!”
Now this gentleman has a fantastic relationship with his wife. They are a home schooling family and very involved in every aspect of their kids’ lives, and each other’s. They are a God-fearing, Mass-going, Bible-studying, Dining room table-eating, family game night-playing Catholic family. She stays at home and he has a very flexible work schedule that allows him a lot of time at home telecommuting.
So the question was a bit interesting coming from him.
But it got better – or at least more interesting.
“But it’s something my Priest told me in confidence.”
My first thought was, “So?”
And then I had a second thought, which was the answer I gave him.
A Husband is not an entity unto himself. By definition, he is one person with his Wife. The two cannot be separated, because they are not two. They are one HusbandAndWife, living as two persons. Why does this matter and how does this play in this situation?
The same way it matters and plays into every situation.
When someone tells me, “Don’t tell anyone,” they automatically know that I AM going to tell my Wife. What I hear, she hears. What I know, she knows. And vice versa. And if they do not know that, then it is their incorrect misunderstanding of the Sacrament of Matrimony that they need to worry about, not me telling my Wife.
I may tell that person, “If you do not want my Wife knowing, then don’t tell me.” And that is usually with a new acquaintance – but I don’t repeat it to them again. It’s just the way it is: If you are telling me, you are telling my Wife.
Now let’s put aside the ideas of calumny and its assorted sordid siblings for another discussion. Yes, the above “Don’t tell anyone” is an example of gossip and rumor-mongering perhaps, but it is only an example and not an endorsement.
So why do we share everything?
Because to NOT share it is to participate in the very thing that, in this case even the Priest was doing, which is putting asunder the marriage.
“Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
Jesus, Mark 10:9
I like the word “asunder,” which is the word we use when our own children try to separate us by asking us each the same question, separately, hoping to get a positive response from one of us. “Asunder” means “apart, divided, or separated into pieces.”
To require of a Husband that he not tell his Wife (or the other way around) would be to cause the Husband and Wife to be apart – it would drive a wedge between them, start a crack, and otherwise define them as two separate beings, not the one flesh that Jesus says they become in the preceding two verses to the above:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.”
Jesus, Mark 10: 7-8
Being the necessary witness to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony the Man and Woman receive from each other on their Wedding Day, the Priest should be the first one to never put the Husband and Wife in this position.
Now, in fairness, my friend told me that the Priest did NOT tell him to not tell his Wife. He only told him in confidence and it was my friend who did not know if he should tell his wife or not.
My guess is if the Priest is worth his salt, he expects my friend to tell his Wife. And he expects the HusbandAndWife to keep the confidence, since the Husband accepted the responsibility of that confidence and did not tell the Priest to not tell him.
Imagine having to carry the burden of secrets that you must keep from your Wife. Or imagine if she thought she should do that – keep something from you.
If she did, and you knew about it, how would your feelings of trust be affected? All of a sudden, not only has the Priest helped to put asunder your Marriage, but so has your Spouse. And Jesus is pretty clear when He says that “no human being must separate.” Only God gets to separate a HusbandAndWife, and He only does that at death.
I guess I should probably think that you may not have to imagine keeping something from your Wife. Chances are you are keeping something from her.
There are enough forces in the world trying to separate the two of you. The Devil loves to break up Marriages because they represent something he cannot do – procreate (another lesson for another time). If you let one thing come between you and your Wife, he will use that to tempt you to keep more from her.
And then you become an agent of separation in your own Marriage – where there should never be ANY possibility of that.
I don’t care what it is. Get yourself right with God in Confession and then reveal to your Wife those secrets. Even the ones you have with yourself if they are not reconciled through Confession. The two of you are one, and if you are hurting and anxious about your Marriage because of secrets – so is she.
Be the Husband. Fix it. Bring your Marriage together – do not put it asunder.