I Found Out A Major Secret About My Husband — And It Changed Everything

I thought my marriage was honest ... until it wasn't.

Woman getting upset with man Motortion | Getty Images

"I need to tell you something," my husband said as he walked into the kitchen.

I was standing in front of the fridge getting ice, but as soon as I heard him say that, I froze.

"What?" I said. 

"You’ll need to sit down for this," he said.

I ran my tongue across the roof of my mouth and swallowed.

There’s not much that can stun me silent, but this had. I was frightened.

I took a second to finish filling my cup with ice and then sat down at our kitchen island.


He didn’t speak immediately. Instead, I watched him pace back and forth for a few seconds before he gripped the counter, leaned forward, and told me.

When my husband and I first began dating, I was impressed by his level of honesty. He even outright told me, "I’m just not a liar, Tara. I don’t have it in me."


The few times he’d tried to lie to me, like when he’d planned a special surprise for my birthday, he’d been a stuttering fool who’d wilted under my first line of questioning.

"I’m just not cut out to lie," he’d told me. I believed him.

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But I did learn over time that he didn’t see the omission of truth — i.e. not telling someone something as lying.

"That’s lying by omission," I told him.

"No, it’s not. I’m just not telling them! If they asked, I’d come clean."

"But how could they know to ask you that specific question? That puts the burden on them to somehow read your mind." I said.


We always think that people will never do to us what they do to other people, that we’re somehow special, different.

I’m not, I learned.

The specific thing my husband had been hiding from me was honestly not that big of a deal. Something had happened in his past of which he was embarrassed and ashamed. There were consequences, some of which did affect me, but they were relatively minor.

My problem was that we’d talked about this particular issue for … years now. I knew about it, but he had never told me the whole truth.

Instead, he’d walked me around the perimeter of it, as if he was a realtor trying to sell me a "well-built" home, but never showing me how the basement was flooded. He’d guided me to see only what he wanted me to. He’d ignored that I had every right to know everything and come to my own conclusions.


While feelings usually take a day or two to hit me, I was angry immediately. I doubt anyone would feel good after feeling like their partner had put a leash on them.

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"I don’t understand why you didn’t tell me this before," I told him.

"I thought this was something I’d take to the grave. I didn’t think I’d tell anyone else," he said. He looked so dejected that if I could have felt any sympathy, he would have had it.

I looked at him but didn’t say anything.

"The only reason I told you now is because someone might tell you to get back at me," he said.


I looked at him longer. My husband has told me that I terrify him when I’m angry. I get quiet. I look a lot. My face reveals nothing.

"And why would they do that?" I asked slowly.

He explained to me some more. A current issue I was aware of might anger some people who were there at the time. They likely would assume I didn’t know and would tell me to take their side over my husband’s.

I watched him. He’d begun pacing again.

I took a sip of water after another break in silence, and said so quietly he had to lean in to hear, "So your idea of marriage is that you don’t tell your wife things until you might get in trouble for them?"

He opened his mouth and then closed it a few times.


I stood up and walked away.

RELATED: This Is What Real Love Feels Like When You Are Actually Honest About Everything

James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, argues for the power of trying to be just 1 percent better every day.

"If a pilot leaving from LAX adjusts the heading just 3.5 degrees south, you will land in Washington, D.C., instead of New York. Such a small change is barely noticeable at takeoff — the nose of the airplane moves just a few feet — but when magnified across the entire United States, you end up hundreds of miles apart…"

What he’s saying is that making a tiny change — be it good or bad — can guide your life to a very different destination.


I thought of this as I sat alone in our bedroom taking some time to think.

Each lie my husband had told me had been, in the moment, minute, seemingly inconsequential, but they’d added up. What would that mean for our destination now? How far were we off track?

He walked into our bedroom and said, "I should have never told you. Now you’re just going to look at me differently."


"So you’re saying you should have just kept lying to me? And that would have been better?" I said.

He took a step back. "Well ... no,” he replied quietly. "I just hate that you’re mad at me."

"I’m allowed to be," I said. He didn’t say anything and left the room.

With every outright or omitted lie, my husband had made the conscious choice to not trust me with the truth, to try to censor my image of him, and of us.

I didn’t know what to think about him or us anymore. I thought we were a couple that valued honesty, but ... a couple can’t be an "honest" one if both partners aren’t.

The one good thing about James Clear’s quote is that any error can be fixed. At any point in time, you can shift the nose of the airplane back toward the destination you want. It may take you a little longer to get there depending on how quickly you correct, but you’ll still arrive there at some point.


Relationships sometimes need course corrections too, and now I’m waiting to see where we end up.

RELATED: How To Be More Honest, Even When It's Hard

Tara Blair Ball is a certified relationship coach and podcast co-host for the show, Breaking Free from Narcissistic Abuse. She’s also the author of three books: Grateful in Love, A Couple’s Goals Journal, and Reclaim & Recover: Heal from Toxic Relationships