You’ve probably heard by now that Jay-Z’s new album, 4:44, has dropped. And you also might have heard that the rapper gets incredibly candid about speculation that he cheated on his wife, Beyoncé Knowles, which was largely sparked in 2016 by her album, Lemonade.
In 4:44, Jay-Z seems to admit that he cheated on Knowles and opens up about the shame associated with his indiscretion. “And if my children knew, I don’t even know what I would do / If they ain’t look at me the same, I would prolly die with all the shame / You did what with who? What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate, you risked that for Blue?” he says in one song.
On the song “4:44,” which is the crux of the album, Jay-Z says, “I suck at love, I think I need a do-over / I will be emotionally available if I invited you over / I stew over what if you over my s***?” he says in it, before referencing Knowles’s miscarriages and his cheating. “I apologize, often womanize / Took for my child to be born / See through a woman’s eyes / Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles / Took me too long for this song / I don’t deserve you,” he says. “So I apologize / I’ve seen the innocence / Leave your eyes / I still mourn this death. I apologize for all the stillborns / ‘Cuz I wasn’t pressing / Your body wouldn’t accept it.”
The album is revealing, to say the least, and it’s surprising given that Jay-Z and Beyoncé are a notoriously private couple. But there’s one aspect of this and Lemonade that’s important to call out: the pair went through an incredibly difficult time together, and they were so good at keeping it between them that no one knew about it. And yet, they were able to work through it.
That may not be coincidence, says licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago. “There is an important boundary that exists between a couple and the rest of the outside world,” he tells Yahoo Style. “If that boundary is too diffuse then other people can have too much of an impact on the relationship.”
Licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go?, tells Yahoo Style that it’s often best to keep romantic issues between you and your partner. “Airing your laundry to other people can leave others feeling a bit confused since it may pathologize your partner to others (or you get pathologized),” she says. Bad things happen in relationships, she says, and people don’t need a play-by-play of everything that goes wrong in your love life.
When it comes to something as emotionally charged as cheating, clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Style that it may be a good idea to keep that to yourselves, at least until you know how you want to react. “This keeps any possible consequences away from others,” he says. Friends and relatives may treat your partner differently moving forward if you reconcile, or even retaliate on your behalf when you may wish to focus on the future, he explains. As a result, it can make your relationship even trickier to navigate than it needs to be.
That doesn’t mean you need to be totally closed off from the world when it comes to talking about your relationship, but Klow says it’s important to determine with your partner how much you both feel comfortable about sharing with others. “If information about the relationship gets aired out too publicly, then it can cause excessive disruption and confusion,” he says. (Of course, if you feel unsafe in a relationship, he says it’s crucial to talk to someone about it.)
If you’re a talker and you know you’ll feel better about relationship issues you face by talking about it, Klow recommends finding a good, trusted friend you can confide in. Many people find it helpful to get an outside perspective or just be able to talk about an issue, he explains—you just don’t need to talk to everyone about it. Durvasula agrees. “You don’t need to tell everyone but keep it tight to those you trust most,” she says. “It may help you problem solve and also feel less alone with it.”
Talking about relationship struggles after they’re resolved can actually be helpful and make a relationship stronger, Mayer says. So, while it may be best for your relationship to keep an issue to yourselves while you’re in it, it’s perfectly OK to open up about it in the future—provided, of course, you’re both OK with that.
Jay-Z’s 4:44 is exclusively available now on Tidal.
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