Married Single

January 06 2018 | by

DEAR DR. POPCAK: I got married with James three years ago, after being engaged with him for five years. There was always total trust and absolutely no secrets between us. Besides being his girlfriend I was also his best-friend. 

Lately I discovered that he hid from me the results, which were fortunately negative, of a biopsy. He also hid from me a serious confrontation with his boss as well as the request for a loan from the bank and, if this were not enough, I learned that he can’t stand my sister because she is, “too promiscuous.” 

I learned all of this, almost by accident, from his mother. When I confronted him about all of this we had our first, really big fight, and we barely talk now. I’ve lost faith in him, but I would also like to patch up our relationship.


I’m actually more concerned about the fact that you are barely speaking after your confrontation. His withholding information that could significantly impact your relationship is bad enough, but failing to deal with it forthrightly when you brought it to his attention is an entirely different level of problem.

Frankly, this isn’t up to you to patch up. He was wrong to not tell you these things in the first place, and he is now compounding that offense by refusing to deal with the problem in an honest, and responsible manner.

When we marry in the Church, we promise to love each other freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. At the very least, that means we aren’t going to hold things back from each other – especially things that can impact each other’s lives in significantly negative ways. He may attempt to excuse his behavior by saying that nothing came of the biopsy or the confrontation with his boss, or that his opinions of your sister don’t matter one way or the other. But his attempt to seek a loan without telling you exposes the real problem – he considers himself a ‘married single,’ that is, a person who wants to enjoy the benefits of an intimate relationship with a spouse, but simultaneously wants to escape the responsibility that is required of a real partnership.

Many married singles say, “I didn’t want to worry you,” but what they really mean is, “I didn’t want the hassle of having to tell you what I was doing because I didn’t want my life to be complicated by having to take your questions or concerns into account.”

You say that you have always had a relationship of “absolute trust” and that were “no secrets between you.” I wonder, especially in light of these recent revelations, how you can be sure this is true. You can’t know what he won’t tell you. How many more decisions has he made without consulting you? How much more has he just not bothered to tell you?

Loving someone means working for their good, even when it is difficult and sometimes, even when they would rather you didn’t. A sick child may not want to take the bad tasting medicine, but it would not be loving of the parent to not give it to him. In a similar way, your husband needs to be held accountable to heal his tendency to lie by omission. His dishonest approach to difficult situations is a kind of psychological sickness that, left untreated, can ultimately destroy your partnership. If this behavior is allowed to continue, you will, more and more, come to feel that you never really know where you stand with him, whether you can count on him, and what he is doing behind your back.

So, what do you do? You insist that this problem be dealt with directly. Let him know that his decision to pout and withdraw from you is childish and unbecoming of the man you know he is and the man you need him to be. Tell him you love him, but you aren’t going to indulge either his dishonesty or this childish nonsense where he simply ignores you until you decide to simply let it go. Let him know – in both your words and behavior – that you stand ready to reconcile, but that reconciliation is entirely dependent upon his willingness to come to you like a grown-up, admit that his behavior was completely unacceptable, give you a sincere apology (that acknowledges how hurtful his behavior actually is), and be willing to identify a plan by which he will show you that he is capable of greater honesty and transparency.

If his childish pouting or dishonesty continues beyond this, you will need to seek professional marital counseling to learn to get past this. Let his behavior dictate your next steps. If he calms down and comes around and the two of you can work it out on your own using the above advice, great. If not, make an appointment with a marriage therapist. Because of his avoidant nature, he won’t want to go, don’t make it a choice.

Updated on January 06 2018