By: Hugh Wilson
Money is one thing, says new research, but it’s far from the only one…
What do you hide from your wife or girlfriend? If you’re like much of the population, the answer is probably money.
New research from Lloyds TSB has found that 2.6 million Brits hide savings from their partners. All in all, £2.1 billion of savings are hidden away in sole accounts, with an average of £823 kept secret by each saver.
Andy Bickers, director of savings at Lloyds TSB, said: “With nearing two thirds of UK couples and four in five young couples now keeping their savings in sole accounts, we are starting to see a long-term shift towards people wanting to remain in financial control.”
But what else do British men like to hide from their partners? We pull out the sofa, lift the rug, and find the secrets many of us keep to ourselves.
It’s not just savings that we keep from our partners. According to the Co-operative Bank’s Modern Families and Households report, published last year, British men and women may be keeping £41 billion of debts secret from their partners. The report found that one in seven men keep debts secret from wives or girlfriends.
You may think you are doing your partner a favour by hiding the perilous state of the family finances from her, but she may not think so when the truth comes to light, perhaps when her debit card payment is rejected by the supermarket cashier.
And Christina Blacklaws, director of family law at the Co-operative Legal Services, pinpoints another potential pitfall: “Many people facing relationship breakdown may be shocked to find out that they may have responsibility for their ex-partner’s debts, even if they were not aware of them.”
Junk food habits
We hide debts and savings from our other halves, but perhaps more damagingly, we also hide our unhealthy habits.
According to a study by the University of Michigan in the US, men happily buy into their wives’ healthy eating regimes at home, before slinking out and gorging on burgers, kebabs and crisps when they’re alone or with the lads.
And this junk food habit remains secret from our partners. We eat salad and veg round the dinner table, and fatty, salty treats when we’re out. We eat a burger on the way home and salad when we get there. We gorge in private and graze when nagging eyes are there to see us.
As the research suggests, the big problem is that by doing so men undermine their partners’ attempts to keep them healthy. While wives and girlfriends think they’re doing their best by us, we’re secretly undermining their efforts, and putting ourselves at increased danger of ill health further down the line.
Smoking and drinking
Smoking is another bad habit that many men hide from their partners. They don’t smoke in or anywhere near the house, but as soon as they’re away from the disapproving gaze of wives or girlfriends they light up a crafty fag.
In fact, a recent poll for E-lites found that 40% of Brits tell others they smoke less than they do, and that 26% of us want to hide our habit from our partners. Again, many men hide their smoking to avoid being nagged, but it’s the nagging of wives and girlfriends that can ultimately make many men quit – and possibly add years to their lives.
In a similar vein, many men now buy into the notion of a “wife’s total”. After a night of drinking, they tot up exactly how much alcohol they’ve knocked back, and then decide on a total they’re prepared to admit to when the wife or girlfriend asks the next day. It’s usually at least two drinks fewer.
It’s impossible to know exactly how many men have had affairs, but according to most research it’s somewhere between a fifth and a quarter. “The Way We Are Now” nationwide survey conducted by Relate a couple of years ago even had the figure at 32%, and the same survey found the number of women admitting to affairs was even higher, at 34%.
But our sexual secrets go wider than infidelity alone. According to a study by researchers from Brigham Young University in the States, 87 percent of men have looked at some form of pornography in the past year, and one in five view porn daily. While most women may suspect that their partners view porn occasionally, or used to before they met, few would suspect just how much porn some men consume.
And it’s not just women who lie about past conquests, and particularly how many people they were intimate with before they met their current partner. Psychologist David Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire, says that men lie about past intimate conquests so as not to put women off. Too high a number suggests an inability to commit. Too low a number suggests inexperience. So men, like women, often choose a figure that (they assume) won’t smack of either naivety nor being a player, and once they’ve settled on this perfect number they’re hardly likely to admit the truth a few years down the line.
So these are some of the things that men hide from women. Some are quite innocent, but others – from debts to bad habits – could be damaging, both to the men themselves and their relationships. If you’re keeping secrets like these the best advice might be to keep them secret no longer.