When hiding something from your wife is the kindest thing
Brave men don’t often waste time with words. So it’s no surprise that Corporal Daniel Keighran admitted yesterday that his wife was one of the last to know about his courageous efforts in Afghanistan.
The 99th soldier to be awarded the VC, Corporal Keighran told reporters yesterday he only shared the real details of the battle at Derapet in the Oruzgan province a fortnight ago.
“She’s been brought into the loop now and let me just say she wasn’t impressed to start with but it’s all good now,” he said.
You don’t get much more human or honest than that.
It’s no secret that being a soldier is a dangerous job, but being the partner of a soldier would be no picnic either.
You can well imagine the citation of Keighran’s award that read: “with complete disregard for his own safety, broke cover on multiple occasions to draw intense and accurate enemy fire to identify enemy locations and direct return fire from Australian and Afghan fire support elements,” would have invoked an entirely different response for his wife. Terror, for instance.
I remember the interview Leigh Sales did last November with Danielle Kitchen, the 23 year old war widow of Tasmanian Corporal Richard Atkinson.
Kitchen spoke openly about the “code” the couple created when they wanted to talk about anything dangerous, and how she would have to pay attention to the tone of her fiancé’s voice as an indication of what was really happening for him on the ground.
“There was always a sense of worry but you can’t let affect your daily life,” she said.
One of the biggest misconceptions about being in a partnership is that you are obliged to share everything with the other person. Solider or not, sometimes the details of work or friendships outside of the immediate relationship are often better kept to yourself.
The things you don’t share are not sinister or even secrets so much as understandings or long established codes of confidentiality that make sense to the individual in context.
Work stress, particularly in times of job insecurity can be a terrifically hard thing to share with the person who might also rely on your income. There’s often little point in having two people lying awake at night wondering what the future holds.
The other issue of course, is the natural urge to protect the people you love above all else, no matter what job you have.
We could all learn a great deal from a person like Corporal Keighran, but today’s lesson is probably the most universal and it goes something like this: the truth isn’t always the noblest option. Sometimes keeping things from the people you love is the kindest thing you can do.
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