Honesty in a relationship is a sacred responsibility for both partners. Honesty can be the fertile soil upon which a relationship can grow and flourish. Dishonesty is like a weed, subtle and small at first, which when left unchecked can choke the life out of the relationship.
Thirty years ago, after we’d only been married a few years, Barry had an affair with one of my friends. Soon after getting home he sat down and told me the truth. I was furious! I screamed and cried and was painfully hurt. I took our dog, walked out and left him for good. The weeks to come were agonizing and yet also very growthful for us both. What gave me the strength to return to the relationship a week later was the knowledge that Barry had been honest with me about the affair from the beginning. He was now saying that he learned and grew from the experience and did not need to ever have another affair. We had always been very honest with each other and so I had the courage to believe him. Had honesty not been such a strong foundation in our relationship I doubt we would have been able to reconnect and heal so quickly.
In our counseling practice we strongly recommend honesty. For couples who have not been totally honest with each other (ie most couples), we encourage them toward a deeper practice of honesty. A couple who had been together for thirty years came to us complaining of a deadness in their relationship. Their children were all grown and moved away and the couple were faced with each other and the distance that had grown between them. We had the couple begin to share all the secrets they had kept from one another. Some of the things shared were painful, others were met with relief. At the end of that session we asked the couple to build a new garden for their relationship, using the fertile soil of honesty as the main ingredient. Several years later we heard that they had created a very loving and nourishing life together.
Honesty also involves the willingness to openly share feelings, hopes and dreams. Honesty requires that we share our hurts and pain as well as our joy and fulfillment. With honesty a relationship can blossom. Without it a relationship is likely to choke and wither.
Timing is also a valuable consideration. As we wrote in our first book, The Shared Heart, “If it’s something important that must be said, consider first asking inwardly from your heart for help.” This inner pause and reflection gives you a better chance to be sensitive and even compassionate.
Ask yourself if there is important information you are keeping from your partner. Honesty can bring a deep healing between the two of you. Be committed to honesty and your relationship will grow in understanding, trust and love.