While secrecy and privacy are often used similarly in conversation, they hold different/separate meanings that when applied to a relationship correlate to different consequences. It is important to understand the distinction with your spouse, otherwise it could cause unwanted problems down the road.
Keeping a secret, in large part, is the byproduct of fear or shame that may result of the secret being revealed. For the purposes of a relationship, this may extend to how an individual’s partner will react. To some degree, secrecy contradicts the intimate and honest approach associated with an ideal relationship in which one feels comfortable opening up knowing that their spouse will appreciate their candor.
For this reason secrecy is often considered as a sign of deception. If you’re not doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide? These hidden items or actions could be indications of infidelity or other misdeeds that tear at the fabric of a relationship because they compromise the terms of honesty.
On the other hand, privacy is an important aspect of distinguishing yourself as an individual by creating boundaries of what you express and reveal to others. The main difference is that the actions you keep private are not out of fear of consequence. Rather, privacy becomes those things that you individually find solace in. There is no harm in your mind in not making these things public; however, they cross that invisible line of what you’re comfortable revealing.
There are certain examples of secrecy that should never be passed along as privacy, such as hiding bills/bank statements, not granting access to shared accounts or leaving the room to take a phone call or respond to a text message from a paramour.
Each specific relationship must determine the lines that distinguish privacy and secrecy. What is and is not acceptable will undoubtedly vary from individual to individual. Knowing this is key, and it is important to discuss what the expectations are so that issues can be addressed and resolved before they grow too large to handle.
However, if you believe that your spouse may be hiding a secret that could significantly alter your relationship, such as an infidelity, hiring a private a private investigator who can expose the truth may be in your best interest. Affairs are different because the cheater will never admit their lie, and the last thing you want to do is move forward blindly when your gut tells you something is wrong.