There were many things Susan and I did not know about marriage when we made our vows to each other 29 years ago, but we were certain about one thing—the absolute, central need for honesty.
Date nights are great; it’s helpful to know each other’s personality type, and good communication skills are important. But a rich, growing marriage is rooted and anchored in the safety and security that comes from knowing that your spouse’s words can be trusted, that they are true to what they say.
You might think that would be a given, but sadly, we live in a world where many need to be reminded that telling the truth is a must—whether in politics, in business, or in the home. Here are 6 ways to nurture honesty in marriage.
1. Make it mutual. Honesty has to be a two-way street; you have to make it a shared commitment. Doing so implies that you are going to be open and forthcoming, to open your heart. If only one spouse expresses himself or herself in a vulnerable way, after a while he or she is going to start feeling too exposed and clam up.
2. Don’t justify. Some people call them little white lies. Or they’ll say they are just “fudging” things a bit to keep the peace or to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. No matter how you pretty it up, it’s still dishonesty. When you’re tempted to withhold something, examine your motives. Ask yourself: why don’t I want them to know this?
3. Keep it kind. Some people make the mistake of confusing honesty with bluntness. But you can be direct without being insensitive. So watch your tongue: here are some tips for taming The Wildest Part of Your Body.
4. Check your timing. Not everything needs to be said there and then. Timeliness is an important aspect of truthfulness. Being real with someone is about having them truly know you. So, consider when they might best be in a position to really hear what you have to say. Late-night conversations when you’re both tired can misfire; agreeing to wait until you are both brighter and clearer is wise.
5. Silence isn’t golden. We don’t lie just with words—sometimes we can lie by withholding them. It can be tempting to let our spouse assume something that’s not true by not correcting them, but that’s still dishonesty.
6. Be safe ground. Committing to being transparent with one another means being willing to be seen at your worst—when you’ve failed in some way, especially in this area of honesty. Do you make it easy for your spouse to come to you and admit it when they may have been dishonest or wronged you somehow? Are you forgiving and understanding, or do you “make them suffer” for what they did—or didn’t do? Does your manner draw them out into the light or encourage them to stay in darkness? Choose to nurture honesty in your marriage.
What would you add to this list of ways to nurture honesty and why? Share your response below.