Tag Archive: honesty

I’m starting a new series for the next couple of months on relationships and marriage. Over the next several weeks, I will discuss such concerns as how to effective deal with confrontation, forgiveness, receiving love, some marriage basic ‘need to know’ tools, differences in gender needs and love languages, etc. Today I want to start the series off right by addressing some essential characteristics of healthy relationships. I will address more of the same in subsequent blogs.

Relationships can be difficult even for the best of relationships, and even though those relationships you look to as examples of how to get it right, that seem so streamlined and perfect while you watch them in admiration from a distance – those couples know a very important secret: Healthy relationships take work! While there are many contributing factors to making a relationship great, I am going to touch on some key elements to getting you started on making your relationships great!!

First of all there is commitment. It must be paramount in your relationship with your spouse or potential future life partner (for those of you not married yet).

What is commitment and how sincere is your commitment to each other? We live in an age where commitment is a word not really understood. With high divorce rates looming, we seem to as a generation lack a clear understanding of what commitment means. The marriage vows we read on our wedding day, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, give way to the wedding plans and the excitement of the day itself. And many traditional wedding vows are no longer being used.

Just what are we committing to? And when you’ve been down the road of marriage for many years, just how fresh in your mind do those early vows remain? There are reasons why the book of proverbs tells us so clearly to guard our hearts and even our eyes, to keep us from the temptation of greener pastures elsewhere when you are doing the real hard work of marriage -being truly know and loved for your flaws and all. Commitment certainly is something we need to newly re-evaluate and determine once again: till death do us part.

Honesty is integral. If you cannot be honest with the person you are spending the rest of your life with, you will have major problems down the road. Your secrets will not stay hidden, even if you have been successful for years. All that is hidden comes to the light. Once it is exposed, often the damage is so severe that many relationships fall apart. Without honesty, you cannot have a real relationship. You cannot be fully known. If you are not really known, you cannot truly experience intimacy. To be known requires openness. if you cannot be open, you are putting on a show. This is called ‘performance’, or even people pleasing. Eventually, resentment will settle in your heart because you are not being up front. What is not expressed is your responsibility. You are responsible to own your own needs, your own flaws, failures and weaknesses. It is ok to have weaknesses. It is important that they be brought into the light of relationship so that grace can cover over your failures and weaknesses, and that the other person can offer their strength, support or skill to help you become better in some of your weaker areas. This is how it is meant to be. Two imperfect people in a partnership, helping each other along to become all that God meant for them to become.

Connectedness is also necessary. If you do not have common ground, common interests, or understand how each other needs to bond and connect, one or both of you will experience great lack. It is important however, for me to uncover a great misconception here: your partner is not meant to meet ALL your needs. There are varying relationships in your life, as it was meant to be, for you to find fulfillment and be well balanced in your life. Women need women friends. Men just don’t understand the finer details that another woman ‘gets’ quite naturally. The same is true for men. Guys bond in ways in which women cannot understand, or compete with. But at the same time, there must be a connection in your primary relationship with each other. It is a good idea to sit down and determine how you need to bond and attach, figure out what ways make you feel the most loved or respected. How do you feel heard and understood? What do you need? Figure out what these things are and sit down and communicate to each other so that you can both work diligently at preferring each other in order to connect and attach in ways the other person will feel most loved and connected with you.

Effective communication. This is a very critical element required to sustain a healthy bond with your partner. This is also where most relationships break down. Effective communication involves active listening, affirmation of what the other is saying, and though this might sound silly, sometimes even simply acknowledging the other person’s point of view before jumping in with your own can de-escalate an evolving crisis! Make sure you clarify what you have heard the other person say, and ensure you understand his or her viewpoint before running on your own assumptions of the other person’s motives. Remember, we don’t EVER know another person’s motives unless we ask questions to clarify. Try and avoid ‘Always’ and ‘Never’ statements, blaming, and only seeing from an all or nothing perspective fixating your attention on every flaw in the other person. Try and remember to be merciful and gracious towards each other, believe the best of each other and have basic goodwill towards each other. There are many more tips I can offer on this most difficult part of relationship, but these are some great tips to get you started!

Separateness & respect are not often addressed when looking at relationship tools, but are definitely not to be dismissed. Oftentimes, initially in the early stages of a relationship, both people feel like they are ‘the same’ as each other, that you both like the same things, hold the same moral or tradition or religious beliefs, but can be sadly mistaken down the road to realize ‘I am not the same as my spouse’. I hold different ideas on how to raise a family, or how many kids you want, or different vacation preferences. These things can extend into very deep areas as well. You may hold different theological perspectives on life, or even just enjoy differing leisure activities. The more we can learn to both respect and appreciate the differences in each other, the closer we come to a place of the desired intimacy you both want. No one wants to be controlled. No one wants to feel manipulated into doing something you are opposed to. We need to respect each other’s individuality, encourage it, come along and support each other in the areas of difference. In this way, we are respecting each other and loving the ‘whole’ person rather than accepting only what adheres to our own perspective, sending a message of rejection to the other person that who they truly are is not good enough.

Dealing with conflict well. Here is where your effective communication skills need to be used meticulously! Do not get sloppy in this area! Remember in your anger that you love the other person enough to treat them respectfully and with dignity and grace. I will address this subject in further detail in a subsequent blog as I believe it deserves fuller attention than the scope of today’s overview.

And above all, love. Speaking of which, the most important element in healthy relationships is love. Sadly, love is a word thrown around so easily, and taken away so quickly when the going gets tough. We misunderstand love immensely in this culture where we love everything from our favorite television program to our Gucci handbag, to our favorite car or pair of shoes. We love our iPhones, our favorite dessert, to most any kind of food really. We use the word so carelessly that it has lost its meaning. And love in these terms has a limit. We take it back when we don’t mean it anymore, when we no longer ‘feel’ loving towards someone. This kind of love is not real love at all. Real love never fails. It never gives up, it never quits, it never stops hoping or believing for good to come about. Real love is unconditional. It does not seek its own agenda first, but prefers others above oneself. It never gives up. This is the kind of love we need to learn to emulate.

Stay tuned for next Friday as I unpack healthy confrontation tips further!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

I read this somewhere recently, and jotted down a few notes as I found I related to what was said. Sadly, I can’t remember where exactly I got this info, but my gut tells me it is from the authors Dr. John Townsend & Dr. Henry Cloud, PhD, as I read a tremendous amount of their work… But don’t quote me on that!

Here is what I took notes on:

Areas Couples find difficult being honest about:

Desires, likes & dislikes
Anger and hatred
Needs and vulnerabilities

And the barriers to honesty were:

Fear of real closeness and being known
Fear of abandonment and loss of love if they are known
Fears of being controlled and possessed if they are known
Fears of being seen as ‘bad’ or ‘not good enough’ if some part of them is known
Fears of their own desires, needs and feelings.

There is some loaded discussion that can come from that information!

My husband and I recently had a conversation about some of the values that we are freshly committing to in our marriage, as we were reading a book on marriage together, and one of the things we discussed was the absolute need for complete honesty in a relationship, and I can personally relate to the fears that are barriers to that complete honesty. I often fear expressing some of my desires that I feel my husband does not value with me. I know part of it is perception on my end, but actions and tone of voice and expressions speak loudly as well, and sometimes I receive messages from his actions that I allow to cause myself to feel he is unsupportive, and the cognitive distortions run wild believing he does not value my desires. (Admittedly, I currently am speaking of clothes! I’m a bit of a shopping nut! I LOVE purses, and shoes, and jewelry, and clothes… And books. Lol!) My hubby has always been a lot more practical about clothes than I am. This has been a common thread that reoccurs repeatedly, where I feel he diminishes my desire to shop or at least criticizes it. I admittedly, fear that he will control our financial decisions, as my dad did as I was growing up. Jason, (my husband), knows this fear I have. I have been honest with him, but there are times when I see that one shirt I just ‘have to have’ and immediately my gut instinct is shame that he will reject and diminish or refuse to allow me this one indulgence.

On the flip side, I understand what is going on in his mind. We are spending a lot of money on business expenses over the next while, and budget issues and responsibility financially are important values to us both. I know there are other items there as well, but will not reveal his concerns in my blog out of honor and respect for him.

Why I mention this, is that it came up last night. My underlying fear of being controlled, or being seen as ‘bad’ for desiring something I place some level of value on. I know this is a very surfacey and material example, but isn’t that the way it often goes? Couples fight about things that seem to be so insignificant, only to recognize that there is a much deeper issue at the core that is really being exposed and brought to the light!

Looking back up at the list, I am afraid of anger, my own and other’s, again, there are roots to this issue, as well as my fear of disappointing people, or failing. My hubby relates to the fear of failure as well. I fear abandonment or loss of love if I mess up. I fear abandonment even if I don’t mess up! Depending upon the season of my life, I often find myself fearful of being known. Again, there are roots to each of these fears.

It is a good thing if you are able to get these issues out into the open and be able to learn how to exhibit grace to each other’s weaknesses.

I read the following somewhere too, which helps me remember grace when I am angry.

F- Focus
E- Emotion
E- Empathy
L- Leave

It suggests focusing on what the root feeling is beneath the anger and identifying with it. For instance, anger most often is a protective barrier covering over another, deeper emotion. Like hurt, pain, fear of abandonment, etc. In order to redirect yourself away from expressing anger in a harmful way, it encourages you to look at the EMOTION you are feeling underneath. Then as you identify that emotion, sometimes the anger diminishes. The next step is to try and find empathy for your partner, and understand their point of view, or where they are coming from. This also is a tool to help the anger settle into something more manageable and allows for healthy ways to deal with it without brutally attacking your partner’s self worth. Finally, if the anger is pretty massive, LEAVE. Tell your spouse that you need a cool down time to get your anger back under control and tackle it again when it settles. A good rule of thumb is to have an anger action plan. Determine together when you are not angry that you will have a 20 minute or 30 minute cool down period (or whatever you decide and agree upon together). After which, you will check in on your spouse to see if they are ready to resume the conversation. If emotions have not settled, agree to check in again at the agreed upon 20-30 minute period of time. This allows for you both to feel cared about and know that even your anger is not something to be rejected by your partner, but is given a healthy permission period to cool down to avoid abusive speech toward each other. Above all, remember that you love your spouse! This will continue to hack away at the anger and allow your empathy for the other to surface and bring about feelings of compassion and love and help diminish the anger as you continue to look for the underlying root beneath the anger. I am not saying anger is all bad! Please don’t misunderstand! But there are healthy and very unhealthy ways of dealing with it. If you read my entry from last Friday on verbal abuse, you will see ways that anger can get out of hand very quickly.

I am also not saying I am perfect at this by any stretch. In fact I am not -by far! This is a new exercise I am trying myself, to deal with my anger when it comes up.

Being honest about anger is also very important in any relationship. And a person can get very angry when they feel their core values are being attacked or threatened. Any of the barriers mentioned above are often based on your core values of being known, and having a security and sense of permanence and safety, so as not to fear abandonment, it reveals core values about needing love and intimacy, respect, equality, being ‘good enough’ that you don’t need to perform or be perfect and yet, still know you are loved. I’m sure there are many more.

Honesty is much more important than we give it credit. Honesty sometimes hurts, but it the only way to pave a trustworthy, healthy relationship where integrity and love can truly grow and blossom.

Honesty is something I highly value. I believe it is one of the necessary cornerstones of a good relationship. Without it, the whole house you build your relationship on, will crumble. My encouragement to you: be ruthless to value honesty! It is a life (and relationship) saver!

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Relationship Coaching Program which will equip your relationship with the tools it needs to grow!


If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

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