by Jenna Birch
Of course you shy away from outright dishonesty with your husband—what kind of relationship would that be? Still, lies of omission can cause just-as-serious marriage problems. From ignoring little issues to pushing down resentment, find out nine sneaky ways you might be keeping too mum.
1. When you don’t tell him about a new goal. If you suddenly want to go back to school, but don’t speak up because it wasn’t in your original plan, your desire for more may morph into depression. “It becomes a problem touching every aspect of your life,” says Match.com relationship expert Whitney Casey. Lay the groundwork for a change. Tell your husband your objective and a timeline for achieving it, say, when the kids are older or when you have more money saved. In the meantime, join clubs and attend events to feed your passion. That way, “you can build a well of happiness to pull from during tough times,” Casey says.
2. When you sacrifice something you’ve always wanted because it’s not what your husband wants. Being totally selfless for your marriage’s sake is a sure path to resentment. “You’ve watched opportunities come and go, sometimes without considering your dreams,” says Casey. Don’t convince yourself you don’t need certain things, be they children, even if he said he doesn’t want any, or seeing the world, even if he thinks it’s too expensive. If you feel incomplete without doing something, that means you must. Work with your husband to strike a better balance between his needs and yours, whether that means setting aside a week to travel each year or reopening the discussion about kids.
3. When he does something that bothers you and you let it slide. It may irk you that he didn’t ask your opinion about which car to buy your daughter—yet you don’t admit it. “Women must have invented the ‘I’m fine’ response to keep the peace,” says Casey. If something bugs you for 24 hours, Casey recommends speaking up. “Letting feelings fester only causes confusion down the line,” she explains. You may blow up if a similar issue arises again, and your husband won’t understand why you’re that angry over what he thinks is a first offense.
4. When you don’t voice your concern about his possible addictions. You understand that having a drink can be part of “relaxing after work,” says clinical psychologist Andra Brosh, PhD. “But it’s a problem when you can’t rely on him.” Bringing it up might make you feel like a cop, but if you don’t, he won’t meet your needs for trust and security. “Start by setting some boundaries and see how he responds,” says Dr. Brosh. “If he says it’s ‘your problem,’ there might be a deeper issue for him.” Explain what you can and cannot handle, and ask him to honor that.
5. When an in-law says something hurtful and you don’t tell your husband. You might not mention that his mom criticized your parenting skills for fear of ruffling feathers in the family. But that resentment “will leak into your relationship and you’ll hold it against your partner.” Dr. Brosh says strong husbands have your back in situations like this. Still, “see where he stands,” she says. “If he’s putting his head in the sand, then you need to find other resources to help.” Consider talking to a therapist.
6. When you’re not upfront about past trauma that still affects you. Most partners accidentally step on old wounds from time to time. If it triggers outbursts, though, “he’ll take the blame for things he didn’t do, causing unnecessary conflict,” says Dr. Brosh. While you don’t have to unload on him if you’re not comfortable, you do need to admit you’re having trouble with an event from your past. Dr. Brosh says therapy can mend your own “wellbeing and happiness”—and your relationship’s.
7. When you let your career fall to the wayside so you can support his. While you may have had no problem putting your career on hold for a family initially, over time you may “feel like you’ve lost who you are as a woman outside of being a wife,” says marriage therapist Carin Goldstein, creator of BeTheSmartWife.com. If your husband’s the breadwinner, saying you want a career may feel like saying he’s not providing enough. So tell your man you want to look into job options, but also show appreciation for what he brings to the table, Goldstein suggests.
8. When you subtly try to change his mind instead of hashing it out. Tend to butt heads on the same topic? You may strategize how to trick him into giving you your way instead of being straightforward. “You probably know you’re being avoidant, but may not realize how manipulative this is,” says Goldstein, who suggests tweaking your approach. Rather than say, “I want this,” ask his opinion. He’ll be more apt to hash out a compromise. “If you want to redo the patio, bring him a figure,” Goldstein says. “Say, ‘I looked into it, researched here, what do you think?’” He’ll tell you, with no conflict, and then you can both make an informed decision.
9. When you adopt a fear based on what you believe your husband means instead of his words or actions. If your guy says your friends’ kids get on his nerves, you may worry he isn’t ready for fatherhood. Assuming this may cause you to avoid asking him if that’s truly the case, fearing he won’t tell you what you want to hear. “If you’re scared in your relationship, it’s never going to work,” says Goldstein. She suggests figuring out where that worry arose; journaling may help. “If the fear is about discovering an unwanted truth about a partner, then therapy can help how you process the truth and figure out the next appropriate steps,” Goldstein says.