When taking into consideration that the number one problematic issue between most couples is honesty, then one must think why is this? Is the grass always greener on the other side? Does curiosity, along with lustful eyeballs, just get the best of a person?
I believe that honesty isn’t just a fundamental respect for the truth. It’s also a day-to-day expression of that respect. Your honesty – or lack of honesty – creates the context for how you respond to the world and interact with people in it.
Maybe you are just one of those who think you know all about relationships and when to be, or not to be honest.
If you believe that honesty is a noble ideal to strive for but you ignore, bend, or violate the truth, you’ll damage your relationships with other.
In particular, you’ll damage the interactions that’s most central to your life – the connection with your spouse.
I’ve ran across many couples with honesty problems. Sometimes the problems are relatively minor, such as a tendency to fib over small matters (forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning, claiming to be stuck in traffic, when you know damn well; you wasn’t).
Sometimes the problems are severe, such as committing adultery. In these, and many instances that fall between the two extremes, husbands and wives wrestle with how to be honest and stay honest with each other.
Dealing with honesty is, in fact, one of the ongoing issues that all couples face. I see couples facing two basic kinds of honesty problems. One is keeping honesty strong within a marriage.
The other is dealing with specific honesty problems that develop because of jealousy, greed, and infidelity.
Here are some ways to solve each of these problems and how you can strengthen your overall honesty as a couple…
Even if you’re honest on a day-to-day basis, I believe that it’s important to practice maintaining a fundamental openness to your spouse or partner. What I’m calling “openness” goes beyond the specific facts of what you say.
Openness is the quality of having an open mind and an open heart. If you’re open in this sense, you are available to your spouse – ready to hear about his or her worries, troubles, and hurts, as well as his or her interest, enthusiasms, and delights.
You’re willing to make your spouse’s concerns your own. You’re ready to cherish your husband or wife despite his or her imperfections and limitations. Or maybe even some form of suffering.
Openness of these sorts is a type of honesty because it honors what matters most: the love and warmth you share with this other person.
Here are some suggestions regarding practicing openness:
Stay mindful of each other. It’s easy for spouses to lose track of each other as the center of each other’s lives. All the daily tasks and obligations tend to blur the vividness of the other person you love – to diminish the intensity of what you feel.
If you can stay aware of each other, though, you’ve already done half the task of practicing openness.
Set aside time together. Creating a brief “haven” for just the two of you will help you honor and focus on each other.
What I’m suggesting can be simply a quiet time together – a walk in the park, a brief interval in the backyard, or twenty minutes of sharing coffee at the kitchen table.
No matter what the setting, time together gives each partner a chance to hear what’s on the other’s mind.
Share your feelings, dreams, concerns, or needs. Raise issues you’ve had no time to discuss. Tell each other thank you for all you’re doing for each other and your family.
Express disagreements openly rather than in veiled ways. All couples experience conflicts. All couples have differences of opinion. All couples must cope with frustrations, miscues, and misunderstandings.
Something that makes a major differences in couples’ success or failure is whether they can address the issues honestly rather than through roundabout, veiled, or sneaky ways.
I’m not talking now about “telling the truth” versus “telling a lie.” What i’m referring to is the tendency of some spouses to face issues directly, while others can’t even look each other in the eye about even the most minor matters.
Resorting to sarcasm, hidden threats, or “subliminal advertising” aren’t good ways to solve problems together.
It’s more productive to put your cards on the table, sort out whatever concerns you, and stay open to possible solutions.
Learn new forms of openness. Perhaps you like the idea of openness, but you’re not sure exactly how to achieve it. Fair enough. Marriage involves lifelong, so there’s no reason for you to know everything from the start.
But you can acquire skills in a marriage just as in any other realm of life. Part of that openness is precisely this willingness to learn. Learn from whom?
Well, any number of therapists, pastoral counselors, and marriage workshop leaders can help guide you toward new insights and skills.
You’re late getting home because you stopped at a store to buy some clothes on sale – but you call your husband and say you’re stuck in traffic.
Or you forgot to buy some ingredients for dinner, but you tell your wife the store was out of stock.
It’s so easy to tell little white lies! No harm done, right? Well, I’m not sure. Maybe these lies aren’t so terrible one by one, but they’re harmful – a slippery slope that can do other kinds of damage in the long run.
Even small lies chip away at the fundamental honesty that should be central within a relationship.
If you decide you’ll eradicate little white lies, what’s the best way to do so? My recommendations:
Be consistent. If you can avoid lying at all, you avoid the slippery slope altogether. Consistency will help you avoid the temptation to lie a little here, a little there, until the situation gets out of control.
You may not make your marriage a ” lie-free zone” overnight, but striving for consistent honesty is a crucial goal.
Work together. Sometimes a couple makes a silent pact to play loose with the truth.
“If he (or she) can fib,” one spouse may decide, “then I have a right to lie, too.” Fair enough?
Not really – because making lying an equal-opportunity habit just makes things worse.
A better idea: work together to be honest. Make a commitment that you’ll both tell the truth.
Be supportive as you strive for honesty. Oddly, it’s tempting to punish your spouse for telling the truth. Let’s say that a husband admits that the store wasn’t really out of those ingredients – he just forgot to go shopping.
If his wife berates or belittle him (“I knew it! You can’t remember shit! You never do what I ask you to!”), he’s less likely to be honest in the future. Lying will save him the trouble of getting scolded.
If you’re supportive of each other, through, you’re more likely to encourage future honesty. However, note that both parents have to commit themselves to accepting these admissions.
You can’t use them to start a battle (“You’re always late,” “You’re so irresponsible,” and so forth).
Bottom line: Be cool and understanding with one another. Discuss each other’s shortcomings, instill a dose of humor into the relationship (laughter is the best medicine) and NEVER go to bed angry with your spouse. (you’ll be surprised at how far you’ll go).
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