February 6, 2010

How Much Is Too Much Information?

How much does your spouse tell you about the church?

When we were first married, I really wanted to know about everything--you know, no secrets between husband and wife. Now, I'm really glad my spouse chose to keep some things to himself. But sometimes, after we've been gone from a place, he'll tell me "the rest of the story." Most of the time, I knew it in my heart all along. For example, he told me that at one church certain people would not sing in the choir at the same time. It seems there was a feud between several families over something long forgotten. Frankly, I never noticed, but I always felt unwelcome in this church. And it wasn't just me but other new people as well.

Too often church members think I know things that I don't. And then sometimes, I do know. Because there are times when my spouse has to deal with things too shocking and terrible for any person to keep to himself.

Over time, I think we all learn to separate ourselves and carve out some family sacred space. Otherwise, I promise, the church will consume you. There are too many hurting people who don't know what healthy boundaries are.

So how do you handle the knowing or the not knowing? How much is too much information for you?

Kathy, editor and spouse


  1. There are upsides and downsides to both, of course, because it does change the way I think of and act toward certain people--for better or worse. While the "worse"--judging or disliking people for something they've said or done--is not good, I really do cherish the opportunity to reach out to those I know are hurting privately. Even if they don't know that I know, I can be more intentional about giving a hug or writing a note to say "I'm thinking of you."

  2. I think this is a fabulous post!

    My response centers on something I heard Daniel Ellsberg say in an interview on public radio yesterday. He was talking about Henry Kissenger and getting "the" top security national security clearance back in the 1960's & 70's during Vietnam. He said getting that super high intelligence and knowing EVERYTHING fell into 3 phases. The first was super excitement at knowing every thing and being privy to such a wealth of information. He said it was exhilarating. The second phase was to wonder why he hadn't seen or realized this information existed previously. The third phase was being so overwhelmed with the information and the power it contained it kind of ruined him. Ellsberg said no one could advise him or tell him anything new because he'd just dismiss them as 'not knowing the REAL story.' It was a disheartening experience to say the least.

    That's how I've come to understand "knowing" everything in my spouse's church. I'm MUCH better off not knowing it. I now actually enjoy being able to truthfully say I don't know in particular situations. It's been liberating for me and great for our marriage. I appreciate my husband's attempts to keep our boundaries secure.