The other day Todd told me a joke. After all our years together, I figured I had heard all of his jokes. But after he finished, I told him that I was sure he had never told me that one. He laughed and said that maybe he still had a few secrets after all. Consequently, I began thinking about secrets and sharing.
I think many people would probably agree that one of the best parts of marriage is sharing life with your best friend. In new marriages there is, I think, a sense of mutual conspiracy and an underlying touch of pity for the rest of us poor schmucks. Anyone else’s love is obviously not as wonderful as theirs. A wedding card I saw recently stated: “The fragile threads of love and sharing sew people together through all the years of marriage.” I didn’t buy that one.
Sharing everything sets up in our minds an ideal: that if two people really love one another, then they must always tell each other absolutely every detail and secret. But once one has been married for awhile, one realizes that there are at least a few things you don’t know about your partner. I think that’s true no matter how long you have been together. For instance: the real thoughts in his head as he drifts off to sleep – you can guess, but you don’t know for sure. You want to believe that you really know him, that the person who is closest to you is completely knowable. Maybe this boils down to a need to feel protected from the complications and hazards of real life, in one’s own small perfect space. But does a couple need to share everything?
The idea of complete honesty and sharing in a relationship presents a lovely picture of how two people can live in harmony forever. The problem is that in order to be kind to one’s partner, and maybe in order to sustain the relationship, maybe sometimes it’s necessary to keep some thoughts to oneself. A person who cannot tolerate secrets in a relationship, who then in the name of ‘being honest’, shares information that might be so wounding that it can never be forgotten, is no friend of love or marriage.
How could you ever sit and enjoy a sunny afternoon reading a book, or cooking dinner, or holding a simple conversation if you knew absolutely everything your partner was feeling at any given time? Obviously I am not referring to an affair or anything like that. But perhaps your partner has hidden things for his own reasons. He has hidden it, perhaps the way you hide precious things that are particularly precious to you. Maybe we all need a few secrets, some things we don’t necessarily share.
The joke he told me the other day wasn’t his best one. But, if you ever run into Todd, have him tell you the one about Mimono, the wrestler. It’s a great one to share. In my opinion it is without a doubt the best joke of all time, and Todd tells it supremely well.