If I share with my husband something my daughter says to me, he drops hints to her in his next conversation with her that he knows what she told me. I share these things with him because we are a couple, we are her parents and I feel he should know what is going on with his daughter.
I’ve asked him time and time again not to do this. I don’t want my daughter thinking that I tell everybody everything that she tells me.
He seems to get a great deal of pleasure letting somebody know that he knows something about them that they did not tell him. This puts me in a bad light, and I’m afraid my daughter will quit telling me anything about what is going on with her.
I keep everything she tells me private from everybody else. I feel I should be able to talk to my husband about anything going on in our family knowing that he will not divulge our conversation — especially to the person it concerns and something that person said specifically to me, not him.
I tell him something and I have to say over and over again to him not to let our daughter, grandson or granddaughter know that I told him. He keeps doing this. I’m embarrassed and the other family member is embarrassed.
I feel betrayed over and over again.
Shouldn’t a husband and wife be able to tell each other anything and know it will be kept private just between the two of them?
By the way, he does not share a lot of things with me that I feel he should. For example, giving money to our children. I have to pull information out of him.
I have not given him any reason to be this way with me. I do so long for an intimate, close relationship with my husband. It’s more like a business relationship than a marriage. What’s wrong? Why would a man behave this way with a woman whom he professes to love?
Your husband doesn’t know how to build close relationships and is using the information you’re giving him as a way to create closeness with his family members.
Instead of doing what it takes to build trust so family members will open up to him on their own, he’s bypassing that process by borrowing the trust you’ve developed to get close to them.
It’s unhealthy and an underdeveloped way of trying to relate to others. I doubt he has any idea he’s doing this as individuals with poor relational skills also lack personal insight into their own behaviors.
He needs to be in charge of developing his own relationships with his family members, including his own children.
You want to have the appearance of a united relationship where both of you share freely about your experiences with your children. However, if you look closely, my guess is that you’re always the one sharing information about your children.
Does he ever bring you information about your children so you can both counsel together on their behalf?
The ideal you describe of having two parents who openly discuss their children’s needs is based on the assumption both parents are safe. The fact that your daughter is telling you things in confidence with the expectation that you not share them with anyone else, including her own father, should be a signal to you that he’s not a safe individual.
Just because he’s her father doesn’t give him a right to have access to her private thoughts and feelings. His access to that information is earned.
While you can’t do anything about his relationships with his children, you can apologize to your daughter and other family members for breaking their trust.
You can let them know that you will respect their wishes to keep things confidential unless it involves safety or other issues that would have a serious life impact. Make sure they know if they share something you can’t keep confidential, you’ll always encourage them to share first. You don’t want to get pulled into a situation where you can’t keep the promise of confidentiality if you need to share.
Tell your husband you won’t be sharing private information with him anymore. He has to learn how to build the kind of relationships where people want to open up to him. He can decide what he’s going to do with that feedback, as painful as it might be.
You can’t singlehandedly create the dream of a unified couple when he’s not doing the work to build trust with your family members.
Recognize that you’re not keeping secrets from your husband. He’s fully capable of building the kind of relationships that would allow him access to this same information.
Your children and grandchildren are fortunate to have you as a safe person to share their deepest feelings. Protect their information and your bridge of trust you’ve worked hard to build.
Hopefully your husband will want the same trust and make changes in his life to become a safe person for these loved ones.
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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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