The Secrets All Wives Keep

What are the most common topics that wives tend to keep mum about? "Usually money and sex," says Sheenah Hankin, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and the author of Complete Confidence.  "Women spend money on things like shoes, facials and hair coloring, and then they feel guilty about what they spent. And they also are reluctant to talk about their bodies."

Talk about sex can be taboo for a variety of reasons, says intimacy and sex therapist Mary Jo Rapini, LPC. If a woman has a fleeting fantasy about another man, her husband is the last person she'd want to know.  

"We usually don't tell our husbands about any fantasies that we have during sex," she says. "A woman could be secretly attracted to a man, but we just won't tell our husbands, 'Wow, that's a really nice looking guy.' So a woman can look at this man and think how attractive he is and keep it to herself."

Women also don't like talking about body image with their husbands. A wife may feel very unsexy and unattractive because she's unhappy with her body, Hankin says. Women may refuse to get undressed in front of their husbands because they think they are fat, and they want to have sex in the dark.

"They hide their bodies from the man they love the most," Hankin says. "But chances are that the woman is not unattractive to her partner. He wishes that she would do the little strip-tease that he finds tempting, or wear the underwear he bought her. But a woman gets angry if he tries to push her, and then he feels rejected."

Secretive behavior on the subject of a couple's sex life can translate to the husband that she does not want sex.

"Men are far less concerned with a woman's weight than women are, and often a woman has a distorted body image," Hankin says. "A woman needs to confront the problem and open up the conversation about weight."

Likewise, the subject of money should also be opened up for discussion, Hankin feels. "Be honest and straightforward with each other," Hankin says. "I tell couples to have a financial meeting every week for half an hour. You might agree as a couple to never make a purchase of anything over a certain amount, like $200 or $500, without a consultation."

Why would so many women avoid discussions of money? "Men are stereotypically the providers," Rapini says. "And women don't want to rock that boat. So even though we feel a little guilty, we still keep secrets, usually over clothes or cosmetics. If we are asked how much we spent on something we tend to take 30 percent off the total."

Instead of avoiding these discussions, though, couples should address them together. "Be open and honest with each other," Rapini says. "It's a great way to avoid a huge conflict later on.