Guideline # 1 For a Healthy Relationship

Written by on May 1, 2012 in On Relationships

Guideline # 1  Be honest.

Honesty is the first guideline because the moment you begin lying or keeping secrets and even withholding too much from the other person your relationship is jeopardized. Think about how close you feel to someone you have confided in and how instantly distant you feel from the person you don’t want to find out about how you feel or what you have said or done. Lying or withholding creates conflict no matter how well intentioned. Think about the TV soap opera. Lots of secrets, lying and withholding makes for excellent television or novels because it creates conflict. Conflict is great for books and TV but it is really stressful in a relationship. Especially secrets.

For myself, the moment I even consider keeping a secret from my husband Aaron, I feel a disconnect and a judgement that he doesn’t understand me therefore I cannot tell him. So I practice keeping everything abreast. That doesn’t mean I tell Aaron everything that crosses my mind. It means I run everything through this helpful litmus test. Do I care if Aaron knows? If I find that I care whether or not he knows something that is usually the type of thing that needs to be disclosed. But on the other hand, if it makes no difference to me I will usually let it go. Besides, Aaron, like most men, doesn’t want to talk about every little thing or be informed about every little detail of my life. Being honest is for yourself never for the other person although the other person will also benefit.

For example: I got a speeding ticket quite a few years back for going 50 miles in a 40 mile zone. I was embarrassed about it. I had the radio blasting and the cop had been tailing me for some time with his lights flashing trying to get me to pull over. The officer was quite upset when I finally realized those sirens I heard amidst the blaring music were  for me! He wrote me a hefty ticket and chastised me quite vigorously before he left me wide eyed and heart thumping holding a ticket in my hand. I felt a lot of shame about the ticket and  strategized a plan to pay for it without telling Aaron. I worried that Aaron would be mad at me, think I was stupid or any other number of reason. So, I didn’t tell him. For years. The shame grew and with it a certain intangible separation between me and Aaron–one that I had created. When I finally told him years later we both laughed and he told me about a ticket he had gotten that had embarrassed him too. I felt much closer to him. It was a small truth that made a big difference. I don’t believe in little white lies even though sometimes I tell little white lies. I practice all the time being totally but respectfully honest and it is just that–a practice. But through my practice I have realized that the more transparency there is in a relationship the healthier the relationship.

I don’t try to make people feel better by lying. I don’t say I can come over if I don’t want to, I don’t say yes when I mean no, I don’t tell someone they look great when I think they don’t and I won’t say whatever it is I think the person wants to hear. I believe that being honest with someone is an act of profound respect for both myself and the other person. I try to be as tactful and kind as possible without compromising my honesty. By being honest in my relationships, including those with my children, I have found I can trust myself and I am more conscious of my personal boundaries and as a result others can trust me to tell them the truth, both big and small. I could write volumes on the subject and give hundreds of personal examples on the value of honesty in relationships. That is why it is guideline number one. It is the most important element for the foundation and repair of any relationship.

How has honesty been important in your relationship or how has it repair a broken relationship?

The worst thing about being lied to is knowing you’re not worth the truth–Unknown

A few books that inspired me to be more honest:

Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler

Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz



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