Do you have a secret chocolate stash? Small secrets could strengthen your relationship, study says

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Could secretly spending small amounts of money on 'common and mundane' things strengthen a relationship?
Could secretly spending small amounts of money on 'common and mundane' things strengthen a relationship?
Photo: Christopher Malcolm/Getty Images

Secretly spending small amounts of money without your spouse's knowledge may not be the best way to grow your relationship, but according to a recent study, it could actually strengthen your bond with your partner.

"Guilt from secret consumption leads to greater relationship investment," a paper by Duke's Fuqua School of Business professor, Gavan Fitzsimons, suggests.

Fitzsimons wrote the paper along with two former Fuqua PhD students. The idea for the study came when Fitzsimons found out about a colleague's friend who was keeping a secret from her partner, the Duke Fuqua website writes.

The woman had rushed home to mess up her house because she did not want her spouse to know that she had been secretly spending money on a cleaning service.

The act got Fitzsimons and his colleagues wondering how common it is for people to hide minor purchases from their partners and what the ramifications of that could be for their relationship.

READ MORE | 5 questions to ask when choosing a life partner

"Common and mundane"

Now, I know what you're thinking - how can keeping secrets in a relationship be good? Well, the study focuses on small purchases that are both "common and mundane", like a secret stash of chocolates you keep in your car or smoking a cigarette or two when your partner is not around.

So, bigger transgressions, like infidelity, are not what they were referring to in this study.

According to the study based on five different experiments, 9 out of 10 people admit to engaging in secret behaviour.

But how does this have a positive impact on the relationship?

"Experiencing guilt from keeping a consumer behaviour a secret - even one as mundane as secretly eating pizza - will lead individuals to want to do something positive for the relationship," the study found.

This "greater relationship investment" could include things like cooking dinner, doing the dishes, or just being more attentive to your partner's needs.

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