Oversharing has happened to many couples. Every couple has their own boundaries, and sometimes they aren’t communicated clearly. Couples rarely consider the question, “How much of ‘us’ are we open to sharing?”
In our grandparents and parents’ generation, this line was clearer. If you wanted to share news, you did so on a party line through your phone or went out with friends and talked face-to-face. Since the internet didn’t exist as it does now, there was less chance of an error (although it still happened). Because of social media, everyone has their life out there and shared with thousands. Privacy and strong boundaries are increasingly complex and, therefore, more important to understand and communicate with each other.
Working with couples whose boundaries have been violated is much more difficult than setting your boundaries early before a breech happens. Breaking trust can have devastating consequences. How can you begin to decide what should be kept sacred between the two of you? As a general guide, the topics below are ones that couples should keep between each other. When in doubt, talk to your partner before sharing information with friends and family.
Arguments the two of you are having. When a couple is arguing, it’s common to talk to friends about what they’re arguing about. This is not a wise decision; your friends are likely to side with you, which may limit your ability to work it out with your partner. Validating who is right or wrong never helps the couple resolve an issue. Both people need to negotiate and come to a decision that works for their marriage. Plus, you can make your partner look like the “bad guy” with your choice of words and that’s a hard image to repair.
Bedroom performance. You should never share what is going on in your love life with your family or friends. Talk to your partner and keep the intimacy intimate.
Your partner’s medical condition. It’s okay to talk about your medical condition if you are comfortable with it; however, you should never share your partner’s medical condition without consent. Everyone feels different about their medical condition, and some are not ready to talk about it openly.
Infertility. Infertility is a very intimate topic. If you and your partner face it, do not talk about it unless you are both sure this is something you want to share. I have worked with numerous couples who feel embarrassment and shame regarding their inability to conceive.
Finances. Money issues are awkward and stressful and shouldn’t be shared. Talking about your partner’s inadequacies or even bragging about your partner’s financial power doesn’t help your relationship and frequently causes arguments with friends.
Your partner’s appearance. If you have issues with your partner’s weight or looks, talk to them about it. Make a plan to get fit together in private. Oversharing with friends about your partner’s diet or appearance is humiliating and embarrassing to your partner.
As a psychotherapist, I believe the most important quality of a healthy relationship is the trust you hold with each other. If you have the privilege of being someone your partner trusts, keep what they tell you to yourself.