The holiday season is here again: a time for peace, love, joy and hope for the new year.
And secrets. Lots and lots of secrets.
There are overwhelmingly joyful secrets, like the mechanics of how good ol’ Santa Claus gets presents into houses without a fireplace and how Grandpa knew exactly which video game Billy wanted. But when we start talking about secrets in a marriage, the mood shifts.
University of Tennessee psychologist Beth Easterling worked with colleagues from East Carolina University in 2012 to examine those secrets in a romantic relationship that directly affect or concern the individual but are withheld from the partner.
Study participants were male and female, married and not, ranging in age from 16 to 72. In online surveys, 60 percent admitted to keeping at least one secret from their partners at some point; about 25 percent said they were currently keeping such a secret. On a scale created by the researchers, based on the number and frequency of secrets and ranging from 0 to 355, the participants’ average score was 217.
Participants kept secrets primarily to avoid hurting their partner or damaging their relationship. To dodge disapproval, too.
But who would disapprove when the best kept secrets between husband and wife will be revealed under a flurry of wrapping paper Christmas morning? That’s the kind of secret I can support, as can the fine folks at Marketwatch. They created a step-by-step guide to keeping your spouse’s holiday gifts … under wraps.
- When you shop online, don’t leave any tracks. Use your phone or office computer when possible; if using a shared device, clear your cookies or browser history.
- Create separate accounts at retailers like amazon.com, which use your browsing history to make recommendations the next time you pull up their pages. Better yet, shop local. No one keeps a secret better than our local retailers do.
- Turn off push notifications when you shop online. I appreciate knowing when something has shipped, but I don’t want my husband to see the alert if I leave my phone on the kitchen counter this evening.
- Pay for gifts slyly. Use cash in stores, PayPal online, or a non-shared credit card. Another crafty idea is to buy a gift card on your next grocery run and use that gift card to buy your spouse something at their favorite store. They only charge on your joint debit card is the grocery bill.
I like to wrap my husband’s Christmas gift as soon as I get it in the house and put it under the tree so that kids will keep him honest. And he, I think, uses a combination of ways to keep my gift a secret; primarily, he shops at the very last minute.
If you’ve thought of a better way to surprise your spouse, I’d love to hear about it (Christmas 2017 is only 370-some days away!). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.