At the start of this post, I need to make it clear that there are two types of honesty that can impact a marriage–the healthy kind (which we’ll discuss in today’s post), and the unhealthy kind. The unhealthy kind chooses to say whatever is on the mind without regard for how it is said or how it will be heard. Such harsh words will often be followed with, “I’m just being honest!”, which sounds virtuous, but it’s not. Being honest to the detriment of your relationship is abusive at it’s worst, and thoughtless at it’s best. Don’t do it!
Healthy honesty is the ability to share what is on your heart without pointing a finger of blame towards your spouse. It is being vulnerable, teachable and humble sprinkled with lots of kindness. Sound difficult? It is and it takes a life time of making mistakes and apologizing for the hurt we have caused.
♥ Honesty requires us to be truthful about our observations of our spouse for their good. It’s being willing to say the hard things out of love with the desire to see them grow and change. It’s finding the best words to say, which requires a commitment to communicate on a deeper level.
♥ Honesty requires us to be vulnerable about why we see, think or feel the way we do. It demands that both of us are completely engaged in the conversation, no half-hearted listening.
♥ Honesty requires a teachable response. If your spouse shares with you that you have a habit that is embarrassing, and it’s something you didn’t realize. One who is teachable would respond, “Really? Can you tell me the next time I do that? I don’t want to be that way.”
♥ Healthy honesty requires humility. One who is proud says whatever they are thinking because they are convinced that what they are seeing is the only way–the right way. A humble person realizes that they are only seeing one side of the issue. They are willing to discuss all options before making a final conclusion.
♥ Honesty requires kindness if it is to be helpful. Even if what you have to say is hard to hear, saying it carefully with kindness will go a long way in winning your spouse’s heart in the matter. Consider a mom who struggles with being angry with the kids. Her husband sees this as an area in need of change, but instead of attacking his wife with anger, he asks if he can make an observation?
♥ Honesty also requires the right time to talk. Trying to talk about difficult things when you’re distracted, stressed or exhausted isn’t a good idea–ever! Instead, plan for it.
Finally, pray about what you are seeing. We are both sinners who see through the glass dimly. We can’t assume that what we are seeing is accurate. It may be that God will have you overlook what you are seeing–probably more often than not. Just because we see something doesn’t necessarily mean we need to point it out. However, God may have you bring it to their attention. If He does ask open ended questions (Did you notice…? Did you mean to…? Do you realize how your words…?) rather than speaking with judgmental words (You always…you never…you were just…fill in the blank!)
We have a lifetime to learn how to master honesty in a positive way. Don’t be surprised when you mess it up. We all do! It’s what you do with the messes that determine if your marriage is heading in the healthy direction or not.