Marriage Help: Use a “No Closets” Rule

For your marriage to survive, in general or specifically through an infidelity, you need to help your marriage by building it on a framework of transparency. This means you and your partner must commit to being completely open about every aspect of your individual lives—especially if your spouse has cheated.

In this post, I’ll help you get started on—or continue in—your efforts to build your marriage and communication between you and your spouse, by employing a “no closets” rule.

How the Marriage Foundation Crumbles

Anyone in a marriage knows it’s ongoing work. You vowed, on your wedding day, to share your life with this person, with the intent being that two individual lives become one.

At least in theory.

You’re in a marriage—you know what it is in practice. There is the constant pull toward your own individualism, because the simple fact is: you’re a distinct person from your spouse. But without laying ground rules, you’re creating fertile soil for problems, including infidelity, to possibly take root.

So what you may find, as time moves on in your marriage, is that you aren’t sharing as much information as a couple:

  • Tidbits about your day
  • Your hopes for the future, individually and as a couple
  • Your secret dreams and desires
  • How much you really spent on that pair of shoes
  • The fact that you went shopping at all

Over time, you both may begin to squirrel away these details into the closets of your mind, locking up the information that makes up a life. This is how the foundation of a marriage begins to crumble: a lack of sharing, half-truths, secrets, and even outright lying.

And the problem only becomes worse when an affair has shattered the trust and feelings of an unbreakable bond in your marriage.

All the more so, to survive infidelity, you and your spouse not only need to rebuild the trust; there must also be a conscious effort to do things completely different in terms of transparency. If your marriage is not in specific need of infidelity help, then today is the day to work on doing everything you can to strengthen your marriage bond so cheating won’t have a chance to be an issue in the future.

From this day forward, so shall thee be transparent.

Marriage Help: Keep Communication Doors Open with Transparency

You’re struggling after the affair, both individually and as a couple. You need to start somewhere in repairing the damage, so you may as well sink your teeth into probably the most challenging issue at hand: transparent communication.

Here are 3 steps to help you share those informative details that may have been tucked behind closed doors in your marriage, shelved in your mind’s closet space.

Step 1: Set the Transparency Stage

Some perfectly healthy couples may struggle in sharing all the details of their individual lives. Even as a broken couple is trying to repair their marriage, the cheater and/or the victim may balk a bit at the idea of sharing everything. “What do you want me to be, an open book?” the cheating spouse may ask.

Well, yes. But you may define “open book” differently than another married couple. What you need to do first, as a couple, is sit down and decide what transparency means to each of you.

For example, your spouse may not want to know every time you go shopping for a new suit or new pair of shoes, and how much you paid for the items. Or, you may not need to know what your spouse talked to his brother about on a phone call, or the details of his morning spent fishing.

Let’s face it: while information makes up our lives, a good deal of it is simply minutiae. Without setting the stage as to your expectations in the arena of transparency, you may both exhaust yourselves providing details that aren’t necessary to keep communication transparent between you. Tease out the types of things that make you feel comfortable to know about on a continuing basis.

For example, you may find it’s important for your spouse to be transparent about:

1)    Who is calling him/her on their cell phone, maybe requesting that they give a casual mention of “That was so-and-so, calling about such-and-such.”

2)    Who they meet up with for lunch or after-dinner cocktails.

3)    What’s bothering them: at work, at home, in their life in general.

These are some basics for maintaining transparency, and do not include how to go about discussing details of an affair. We will look at that particular topic more in-depth in next week’s blog.

Step 2: Act on What You’ve Decided as a Couple

Once you’ve decided on the areas where you’d like more transparency, begin the sharing.

Transparency is a communication skill, and it’s one that is individualized to you and your spouse as a unique couple. As with any new skill, it will take time, and more than a little patience, to get it down. Commit to applying yourself to practicing the skill daily.

Step 3: Appreciate Each Other’s Efforts

When your spouse is sharing information with you, appreciate their efforts by giving them your full attention. Your patience may be a little tried when there are fits and starts as to the type of information shared. Be grateful that there is sharing, and give your spouse eye contact to encourage their efforts. This also offers reassurance that you care and that you are involved.

This comes back to prioritizing your marriage, to work toward becoming “one” instead of just “one of two individuals sharing the bills and the same roof.” Now, which of these sounds more enticing and inspiring to you?

I’d be interested to hear about your efforts to become more transparent …

What have been the challenges in becoming more transparent?

Have you and your spouse communicated your own definitions of transparency?

When sharing information with each other, how does it make you feel about your relationship?

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson

Editor-in-Chief

Marriage Sherpa

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