HONESTY AND THE
INTEGRITY OF THE RELATIONSHIPS
Open Communication Enhances Couples’ Satisfaction
While most people believe truthfulness is an excellent trait not everybody agrees as to how much honesty is actually good for the marital relations. In fact many couples believe that although, being truthful is a preferred virtue, it is not always good for the relationship. They reason that complete honesty can cause chaos and ruin their relationship.
However, despite their beliefs that in a marriage some deceptions and pretensions are necessary, they all agree that such behaviors prevent them from being truly close and intimate with their mates.
It seems ironic that people maintain the attitude that lying is wrong and immoral and yet readily admit to being engaged in deception. Studies show that more than 80 percent of couples report telling lies on daily basis. While most of them report only telling harmless “white” lies, others admit to more serious ongoing deceptions. At the same time, research indicates that lying is uncommon among solidly happy and satisfied couples.
In traditional marriages most spouses, especially men, kept their emotions to themselves. Complaining or expressing tender emotions were considered non-masculine or even feminine. On the other hand, in a male-dominated society, many couples tend to hide their real emotions and avoid open and honest communications. In other words, the old role models of strong capable men, such as the warriors, had to be non-communicative. They had to suffer hardship silently, without complaining. By contrast the contemporary male is expected to be open, caring, sensitive, intimate, and at the same time strong and capable.
Much of modern married life requires collaboration rather than heroism, sincerity and openness rather than non-disclosure, emotional support rather than physical protection from a dangerous world. Sharing the information about one’s acts, feelings, or desires can help bring the couple closer together. In a competitive situation such as the corporate politics, holding on to the information may be empowering. In personal relationships, however, partners who feel empowered and secure are more likely to speak candidly and truthfully.
Not all couples prefer to lie to each other. Most couples do their best to make each other happy. But, many of them do not have the skills to communicate effectively or adequately. That means if they do not know how to resolve a conflict they rather not to deal with it. Thus, to avoid a conflict, they may deliberately misinform each other as to their plans, feelings, or activities.
This can lead to emotional distance between lovers. Also, once deception is discovered, it makes the marital conflict more severe and harder to resolve. Because, each time a lie is said and discovered it shakes up the trust that the relationship is built upon. As more and more episodes of deception are uncovered the romance and intimacy slips away.
Once dishonesty is revealed, the other partner becomes guarded and goes on alert. As more instances of lies and deceptions are exposed, a loving relationship can turn into a superficial affiliation.
A healthy relationship requires free expressions of thoughts and feelings. How you communicate your mind, however, determines whether you and your partner will live together like loving teammates or like strangers and enemies.
To express yourself appropriately, you will need to verbalize your concerns, fears, and desires specifically, accurately, sensitively, and sincerely. Reveal your emotional reactions to your spouse’s behavior or the events in your life. Formulate your words in ways that are easily understood by your mate and try to minimize any hurtful effects on him/her feelings.
While complete honesty may not guarantee a successful marriage, deception does guarantee failure of the relationship. The commitment to honesty means feelings are openly expressed whether the problem is resolved or even seems unresolvable. The couple should consistently work through their problems with truthfulness and sincerity.
In a relationship, honesty also means sharing your past experiences with your spouse. Many people believe that embarrassing or serious mistakes of the past should be forgotten or hidden from their spouse. Research however, show that hiding the major past wrongdoing may be a sign of present weaknesses.
For example, if an individual has had a drug or alcohol problems in the past, he/she may be vulnerable to substance abuse in the future. Also, a history of infidelity can be a sign of vulnerability to having affairs in the future. By admitting and expressing past mistakes you can help your spouse to understand you better and together you can try to avoid conditions or situations that may cause you to repeat the old mistakes.
Sharing information about the events or activities in your daily life with your spouse can help you understand each other better and coordinate your activities more efficiently. In good intimate marriages, couples share many activities and a daily schedule is essential to coordination of their projects.
Honest communications also include sharing your thoughts and plans about future goals and activities. Some couples avoid explaining their future plans because they do not want to change them, even if their spouse is against it. Thus, in order to avoid the “evening war” they refrain from discussing them until the last minute. Others fail to share their future plans with their mates because they think their spouse is not interested.
Open communication builds bonds of intimacy and strengthens and deepens your sense of connection to each other. You do not have to be perfect in order to accept and love one another. By honestly expressing your dissatisfactions as well as satisfactions to each other and working together on resolving those issues can help establish cooperation and intimacy with your love in order to live a happy and trusting life together.