Does the following exchange sound familiar to you? (Please say it doesn’t just happen in my marriage!)
Spouse 1: “Where do you want to eat?”
Spouse 2: “I don’t care. We can go anywhere.”
Spouse 1: “Just tell me.”
Spouse 2: “Really. I don’t care. You choose.”
Spouse 1: “Ok. Let’s get pizza.”
Spouse 2: “I don’t really feel like pizza.”
Spouse 1: “But you just said we could go anywhere!”
Spouse 2: “Yeah, but I don’t feel like pizza. Other than pizza, we can go anywhere.”
Sound familiar? Deciding where to eat is a little thing and certainly not grounds for divorce. But it points to a big need in marriage…the need for honesty between spouses.
When we think about being honest with our spouse, we usually think of big things:
- Whether we want to move to a new job in a new city.
- Whether we’re ready to have children…or more children.
- Whether we’re really happy in our marriage.
But often it’s the smaller things in marriage where we need more honesty:
- Whether we really like meatloaf .
- Whether we would rather have our spouse bathe kids or clean up the living room.
- Whether we like a certain type of bedroom activity.
- Whether we would rather go home when they want to stop at one more store.
Why is honesty in the little things important? Because trust is a key ingredient in marriage, and when we’re less than honest in the small things of life, we actually hurt our spouse’s ability to trust us in other things. They wind up asking themselves, “Did they really mean that, or are they just saying that?”
Here’s another example…you’re engrossed in a show, or a book, or the computer and your spouse says, “Want to run to the store with me?” In that moment, you panic and wonder, “What’s the right answer? If they really want me to go and I say ‘no,’ I’ll be in trouble. But if they don’t really care whether I go and I say ‘yes,” then I’ve wasted time I could have spent doing something I’d rather do. What’s the right answer?!”
Why not try being honest? What if you said something like this: “Honey, I’m in the middle of something, so if you’re just asking to be polite, I think I’ll pass. But if you’re asking because you really want me to go with you, then I’m in.” You’ve been lovingly honest with them and they now need to be honest with you. Whether they will or not is up to them, but you’ve set the example.
But a word of caution. Being honest with your spouse doesn’t give you the freedom to be “brutally honest.” Ephesians 4:15 talks about the importance of “speaking the truth in love.” When being honest with our spouse, we need to be both truthful and loving. Why? Because truth without love wounds, while love without truth avoids. Neither are good for a marriage.
Honesty is a small thing, but it’s a big thing in marriage. It may take some practice and it may not always be easy, but speaking the truth in love (even in the small areas of your marriage) will build and strengthen your marriage like few things can.
Oh, and if anyone’s got a good honest way to respond to “Honey, do these jeans make me look fat?”…you should write a book and make millions.
So are you ready to get started with this? (Remember, be honest!)
Got an example of honesty in marriage. Share it by leaving a comment.
Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg