Why it is NOT a Sin for Husbands to Keep Secrets from Their Wives

“Dear BGR, can you tell me if the Bible says it is a sin for a man to keep secrets from his wife? My wife thinks so and so does the pastor of our church.  Let me give you some more context so you can understand better.  My wife and I are born again, Bible believing Christians and have been married for 8 years and we have three children who are 6 and under.  We met in the church we continue to attend to this same day.

My wife wanted to be a homemaker and I wanted to be a sole provider and we were both Christians and relatively conservative so it seemed to be a good match.   My wife even said she believed in male headship in marriage while we were dating.  But not long after we were married, I discovered that we defined “male headship” in very different ways.  My definition of male headship came right of Ephesians 5:23-24 which says the husband is the head his wife as Christ is the head of his church and the wife is to submit to her husband in everything.  Her definition of male headship was that a man leads his wife by his example but he is never a dictator.  All decisions are made jointly with both compromising with one another and only in rare situations where the couple cannot agree then the husband will break the tie. 

She says that is “male headship” but I see “equal partnership with only a slightly senior partner”.

Ever since we were married, I have found out that my wife is absolutely horrible with money.  We would talk each week about the budget and it was very open and transparent.  We would see my check, deduct the bills to be paid, and I would allot a certain amount each week for savings for emergencies and for vacations. We would discuss her allotted amount for shopping for food as well as clothing and incidentals for myself, my wife and the kids.

But time after time she would go over the budget with her ATM card. Each week she would eat up what I had tried to set aside for savings for emergencies and vacations.  She always had excuses but the reality was she was spending money she did not need to spend.  What I realized was she really did not respect or believe in what I was trying to do with budgeting for emergencies or vacations.

So, what would happen when emergencies, unforeseen expenses or vacation times came? We had to go into credit card debt.

About two months ago I finally had enough of what has been going on our entire marriage.  I took my wife to our bank where we had a joint account and had her sign forms with me to close that account.  I told her I was setting up a new bank account that would work better for us.  She signed the forms with me and we closed our old joint account. When we got home, we cut up our old ATM cards together and threw them in the trash.   She assumed she would be on the new account I would setup.  She assumed wrong.

The next day during my lunch break at work I setup a new bank account that does not have my wife’s name on it and I redirected my direct deposit to that bank.  When I got home from work my wife asked me when we were going to setup the new bank account.  I said “I already did today”.  She then asked “don’t I need to come down to sign to be on the account?” and I said “No, you are not going to be on the account”.  You could have seen fireballs coming out of her eyes at me.

She said “This is not right! We are married! What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours! I have a right to see what is going on in our bank and to be on our bank account with you!   You can’t do this!”.  And my response was “I have tried for years to reason with you regarding the money and time and time again you have ignored my attempts.   We have accumulated debt for vacations and other unforeseeable things over the years because you would not let me build any savings account.  Now I am going to fix our finances, pay the debt off and build a savings.  You do not need to see the bank, you need only trust that I am paying our bills and doing what is in our best financial interest as a family.  I will give you a cash allotment each week for groceries and incidentals.  If you need clothing for yourself or the kids, we can talk about that and I will get you more”.

I am happy to say that over the last 6 weeks I have been paying down on our debts and actually built a small savings for the first time in our 8-year marriage!

That is the good news.  The bad news is that my wife has made my life a living hell for the past two months.  She refuses to have sex with me and last week she called the pastor of our church and then he called me to have us come counsel with him.

I explained to him the situation, but he said I was wrong to deceive her into shutting our old joint account and then setting up a new one without her name on it.  The pastor said we are “one flesh” so that means nothing should be separate and she should have equal access to see what is in the account and be able to have an ATM card just like me.   He said we are “mutually accountable to each other”.  He made a brief mention of her overspending like she could just fix that.  I have given her a chance to fix it for 8 years! It was not going to be fixed.

He said my having a separate account that she could not see activity on and had no access to was me “having a part of your life that is secret from your wife.  And God does not allow any secrets in marriage. What you are doing is sinning against your wife.  You need to add her on your new account, give her full access to see its activity and get her an ATM card”.

When I asked him for scriptural support for what he said he arrogantly said “I already gave it to you.  You are not two people; you are one flesh.  That means one bank account. Equal access to all assets.  And absolutely no secrets of any kind from each other, whether they are bank accounts or anything else”.

I googled “biblical gender roles” last week and found your site on the first page. I did a search on your search bar for “finances” and found your post “Can a Christian husband deny his wife equal access to his income?”.  This was exactly what I needed and confirmed from the Bible what I was thinking was right.  I went on to read your 20 doctrines of Biblical gender roles and many other posts.  Thank you so much for all you are doing here for the cause of Christ.  Your site must be a massive trigger for egalitarian Christians and non-Christians alike.  I am sure you must get a lot of hate mail.

One last thing.  I searched your blog for the larger issue our pastor brought up about husbands keeping secrets.  I could not find anything on that.  Have you written on that? If so, can you please send me the link?”

What you just read was emailed to me last week from a man named Travis.

Travis, the answer to your question is no, I have not previously written directly on the subject of husbands keeping secrets from their wives.  I think I may have mentioned it in passing, but no dedicated articles for it.  So, I guess will remedy that here.   

Why it is NOT a Sin for Husbands to Keep Secrets from Their Wives

We are living in a “total transparency” culture where it seems everyone must know everything about everybody.  Think of all the big brother type shows where people allow cameras into their homes and private lives.  Tabloid journalism is built on this entire precept of everyone needing to know everything about everybody.    

When it comes to intimate relationships, whether in dating or in marriage, we are told “there can be no secrets”.

And more often than not, in most intimate relationships it is the woman who is trying to pry every thought, feeling and action out of her man’s head under the guise that he is not allowed to keep anything back from her.  In fact, if you watch TV shows you will often see that one of the biggest reasons women break up with men is because the men were not totally transparent with them in all areas of their life. 

Keeping anything secret from the woman you are in a relationship with, whether you are dating or married, is considered a violation of the 11th commandment – “Thou shalt not keep any secrets from thy woman”.

The problem is that there is no 11th commandment that says any such thing.  So those who believe men can hold nothing back from their women whether in thought or deed must try and find something the Bible does teach, and twist it to say that it means men cannot hold anything back from their women.

To accomplish this goal of convincing men that they can have no secrets from their women, some Christian teachers turn to the “one flesh” concept of marriage that is taught in the Bible.  In Matthew 19:6 Christ said of husbands and wives in marriage “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh”. So, the argument goes, since man and woman are one in marriage, there can be no secrets between them and no thought or deed can be held back from the other.  And if marriage were an equal partnership, that might make sense. 

But in Ephesians 5:23-24 we read “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church”  and 1 Peter 3:5-6 the Scriptures state that women are to be in “subjection unto their own husbands:  Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord”.   This reveals that marriage in God’s design is not an equal partnership, but rather it is a patriarchy designed to model the relationship of God to his people with the husband symbolizing God and the wife symbolizing the people of God.

In Deuteronomy 29:29 the Bible states the following:

“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law”. 

In God’s relationship with his people he holds many things back from them.  But it is the duty of his people to live by what he has revealed and leave to God what he has not revealed.

The application of this to marriage is clear.  Women are to abide by and follow those things which their husband reveals to them realizing their husband’s secrets belong to him, not to them.  It is not their business to spy on their husbands or try to find out his every thought and deed.

This tendency in women to want to know their husband’s every thought and deed is actually a core corruption of the feminine human nature that started with the first woman, Eve.  In Genesis 3:6 the Bible says “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”.  She wanted to know everything God knew, she wanted to know the secrets God was keeping from her.  And women to this very day commit this same sin with their husbands trying to learn his secrets and being offended when he holds anything back from them.

Conclusion

Yes, the Bible teaches in multiple places that husbands and wives are indeed “one flesh” in marriage.  And one of those passages is Ephesians 5:31 which states “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh”.  And the “cause” for which a husband and wife are called by God to come together as one flesh in marriage is given to us in the preceding verses – Ephesians 5:22-30.  Men and women are to come together in marriage as one flesh for the cause of modeling the relationship of Christ to his church.  Are Christ and his church equal partners? Does the Bible tell us Christ and his church submit to one another? The answers to both these questions are a resounding NO.

Does Christ keep secrets from his church? You bet he does!  In Acts 1:7 Christ said to his wife “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power”.

God calls men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to wash her spiritual spots and wrinkles and to make her the glorious church, he wanted her to be.   And wives are called to submit to their husbands in everything as the church is to submit to Christ in everything. 

Travis is learning what it means to give himself up for his wife as Christ gave himself up for his church.  Travis gave up the peace in his home knowing his wife would probably deny him sex and make his life miserable.  But he knew it was the right thing to do for his family.  Now he needs to get into that washing phase with his wife and correct her sinful lack of submission to him, not just in the area of finances but also in the area of denying him her body and using sexual denial as a weapon to manipulate him.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:36 “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household”.  Because we live in a sin cursed world, sometimes the person God meant to be our greatest spiritual ally as men becomes our greatest spiritual foe.  In preparation for this spiritual battle with his wife, Travis should read my article “3 Ways Wives Try to Control Their Husbands”.

Finally, to Christian wives reading this.  Do you get upset if your husband holds back his thoughts or feelings on anything? Do you have to track his every movement from work to home? If he were to lock down the finances where you could not see what is going on would that bother you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then your heart is not in keeping with God’s law and his design for marriage.   You need to go to the Lord in prayer and pray what King David did in Psalm 119:36 “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness”.  When you spy on your husband or get angry if he keeps anything from you, you are acting in covetousness just as Eve did when she coveted that forbidden fruit because she wanted to know the knowledge God was keeping back from her. 

A question that I am sure many wives will bring up is “Are you saying husbands are not accountable for their actions?”  And the answer to that question is no, that is not what I am saying at all.  Husbands certainly are accountable to civil and church authorities in areas that God grants these authorities power.  But husbands are not accountable to their wives anymore than their wives are accountable to their children.  There is a clear line of spiritual authority declared by God.   For more on this subject of accountability and husbands see my article “Why Husbands Are NOT Accountable to Their Wives”.

As a Christian wife, once you have totally surrendered your heart to God in this area of having to know everything your husband thinks or does, you will find peace in your marriage as the Scriptures say in Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them”.

8 thoughts on “Why it is NOT a Sin for Husbands to Keep Secrets from Their Wives

  1. I would also recommend that, if you can, find a new church. This pastor sounds like he will sell you down the river in the future, as he sounds like he has very little actual understanding of the word. He is, unfortunately, like many “pastors” now days, men who filter the word of God through the lens of feminist training before applying it. In their minds the only possibly correct translation of scripture is the one that makes women happy, and it will do you and your wife no good to stay there, as her rebelliousness will only increase with time. It may be that she will refuse to follow you to another church, and then you must take appropriate steps to leave her on her own while you either attend an actual, biblical church or home study. Just my two cents.

  2. BGR, your patience to correct and teach is astounding. I admire your continual ability to clearly lay out a scriptural truth without taking offense at the subterfuge of Satan.

    Travis, I concur with Snapper, your pastor is no shepherd of God’s people.

    His first response should have been to rebuke your wife for withholding sex.

    His second response should have been to rebuke your wife for her lack of submission and obedience which is akin to blasphemy.

    His third response should have been to chastise your wife that even if you were not in obedience to the Word, her response is to obey without a word in purity and reverence.

    His forth response should have been to ask your wife why she came to him, does she not know if she has questions the Bible teachers her to ask her husband at home? He might be her pastor, but not her husband or a relationship referee. Her duty is “pitch her tent under” his authority and teaching, not to seek out other’s to agree with her.

    His response to you should have been to continue to work on RULING your household well, wisely using resources to advance the kingdom.

    IMO – your “pastor” is guilty of malpractice and cannot be counted on to rightly divide the Word. My immediate recommendation is get away from the charlatan, discipline your wife with a firm but loving hand and find a church where the Word of God is exposited with fear and humility. May the Lord bless you in this and bring repentance to your wife that she might exhibit a heart of purity and reverence toward you.

  3. My husband only discloses what he feels is necessary. Although, I do wish he was the financial person in the marriage. He appointed that on me, and I hate it. I would love a husband like Travis. I doubt under his husbandry she lacks for anything. What she is mad at is no longer being able to spend as she pleases.

    I can pinch pennies until they scream, but my husband is the spender and can want a steak lifestyle on a hotdog income. In fact, I am now working outside the home because he wants me to have a new vehicle, but tells me I have to pay for it.

  4. While it is true that a man and his wife do become “one flesh” once married, there is a distinction in their give roles. The married couple is indeed one body, however the bible is clear that the husband is described as the “head” of that union, retaining all of the responsibilities, privileges and liabilities of that position. The third party interloper (pastor) may serve as an advisor, which is a valuable asset when executed correctly, but has no authority to govern in that union and should respect that role.
    This man was correct in changing the nature of the financial structure due to his wife’s mismanagement of the family funds. He should proceed with giving her set amounts of cash to proceed with here administration of the family needs and continue to restore and teach her how to be a better steward of their assets.
    Her with holding of sex is a clear act of rebellion and does harm to the marriage, which the pastor in question should have recognized. Seeing as he did not, the husband should take note of the situation and make adjustments accordingly, lest the relationship devolve further into chaos.
    Wash her with the Word of scripture with gentle rebukes and work patiently with her. Any excessively harsh correction will only cause her to dig in and further her ungodly behavior. Be patient and tread carefully with love, leadership and prayer. Surely Christ is very patient and long suffering when dealing with us. We all do well to follow his example.
    God speed.

  5. “But not long after we were married, I discovered that we defined “male headship” in very different ways. My definition of male headship came right of Ephesians 5:23-24 which says the husband is the head his wife as Christ is the head of his church and the wife is to submit to her husband in everything. Her definition of male headship was that a man leads his wife by his example but he is never a dictator. All decisions are made jointly with both compromising with one another and only in rare situations where the couple cannot agree then the husband will break the tie.”

    This is the entire story right here. Done. Many many men are here. Let me share my story and outcome:

    This is exactly my wife. She totally has a different definition of male head ship submission (obviously an unbiblical one) and how she belies she has to “feel” loved in order to submit. What a lie from the pit.

    After 12 years I Initiated a separation. Check mate.

    She wanted me to divorce her (nice heart, right? She really wanted me didn’t she) but there were no biblical grounds. She couldn’t conceive that a Christian like me cared to stay within biblical boundaries with a justifiable separation because her definition of Christianity and mine clearly are different. We were no good in the same home with our children because of her defiance and resistance and disrespect of me. She is an emotional Christian not a biblical one. Now she got what she clearly wanted: head of her own household just like she apparently always wanted. Now, I can get on with my divine work that she was supposed to be my help mate toward but instead was a “hurt” mate predominantly. And now she only gets to see our kids 50% of the time because I have them the other 50%. She wanted to stay just for the kids obviously. She wanted to be a glorified playmate not make her calling my help mate. I would have given her the rest if she had been more ordered about being the husband’s help mate first. Newsflash: husband before kids Anyway…

    Meanwhile she wanted to hate my headship (I am in no sin, not an abuser, love my family and kids But just not good enough for her as she has complained to may a Christian about) and defy it. She is very contentious
    about it all and disdains me for never relinquishing my headship to her.

    So why is she angry with me now that she is head of her own house (ironic), with no marital benefits (Her choice: I offer her total connection and family life just with two separate houses like it seems she wanted). Why? Because of the kids. She should be overjoyed, and we should be a great family just with two homes and with date nights, family nights, etc. This would help toward reconciliation.
    .
    My point is you are not alone.

    This move is the checkmate of a lifetime. She resents me, yes, but she did anyway so… If she divorces it’s on her before God (1Cor.7)

    Remember:12 years in the making for me. Love is patient. I am and have been. Love is also is
    chastening.

    You have to be able to put the marriage on the altar. I can live with it. She has to learn. She’s almost 40. This hurts her even more. But hey, she could work to reconcile.

    Again: If the wife wants to divorce, that’s her before God. 1 Cor. 7 uses two different words for husband and wives. For wife she is not allowed to “depart”; for men they are not allowed to “divorce.” But they are allowed to offer peaceGil separation for reconciliation. The women hate this but my heart is pure and I am within god’s law.

    By the way, I welcome a marriage with my wife, just in separate homes right now, that’s all. But not her.

    So: I await her divorce papers all the time. A biblical believer would remain or be reconciled. Those are her only two biblical choices. But of course many “Christians” want the only unbiblical one: divorce so they can find someone else.

    Men, you have the freedom and biblical authority to go this route if all else has been exhausted and enough time has been given. It’s an awful existence to deal with it.

    Biblical authority is strong. Our emotions have to develop an acquired taste for its strength!

  6. The pastor’s first response to Travis’ wife should have been (as I wish I had known years ago), “Why are you calling me? Have you asked your husband for counsel and received no answer?” But good luck with that from a 501(c)(3) hireling. And Travis should have put him in his place for meddling in the affairs of his house where he has no authority. My house is together today because I did with the finances what Travis did. The risk is getting accused of “financial abuse”, etc.

  7. I am a woman who firmly believes in gender rolls. But this post broke my heart for both husband and wife.

    Husband, You may feel you have a moral highground to do this to your wife but you don’t have legal standing to do this. In fact, this action is abuse by court definition. Sadly you don’t live in an idealized fantasy biblical world… but in a real one that has a court system in which your wife has a right to know her finances.

    Just because you are leader and you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it.

    Your wife’s worth is beyond the value of rubies and gold. Her service to you as a wife and mother should garner more respect than this action. It is her efforts in the home and with your children that allow you the peace of mind to go to work to make money.

    If you dont understand her worth, price out nannies, maids, personal assistants, sex workers etc… most men couldn’t afford to pay for that kind of home/child/wife care (which wouldn’t include the love and quality that your wife performs these jobs.)and of course a loving, faithful wife is priceless.

    I know there are less dehumanizing, more respectful ways to help your wife stay on a budget that you could have tried before sneakily cutting her off from the accounts.

    My unasked for opinion is that you ponder on and understand her worth to you financially and be sure to express and praise to her for what she is doing right. Then You both should see a financial counselor so that your wife can see and understand how over spending impacts her financial future as well as yours.
    You may also gain insight as well and see the need to adjust your budget.

    Reminder to men everywhere:
    No matter who is the boss, basic respect to one another is required in any and all relationships.

    Sadly, Men that say they are of God do all kinds degrading things to women in the name of God, submission or the bible.

    Right or wrong, Don’t let biblical idealisim lead you and your wife into a irreconcilable place.
    That would be a much greater tragedy than a small amount of credit card debt.

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