How to Get Honest with Your Mate


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How often do you tell little white lies to your honey or your best friends?

Continuing my blog topic all month of stressful relationships — today I want to talk about the vital importance of HONESTY in your key relationships.

When you are dealing with someone who is stressed, if there’s abuse in the relationship or other problems going on, what often happens is that you slide into a little ol’ coping tool called people-pleasing… aka lying.

Yep, it’s lying. When someone asks you if anything is wrong (as you slam around the kitchen muttering to yourself) and you turn a cold smile on them and say in a bright tone: “Nope, I’m fine! Everything’s fine!” … you are not being honest, are you?  But “people-pleaser” lying is usually not for any deep, dark reason, other than to protect yourself from what you think will happen if you tell the truth.

You can see it already as it flashes before your eyes: a long, drawn-out disagreement with a lot of pain and frustration.

So, instead, you simply shut the door to honest conversation and grimly keep going with that burning resentment inside. And nothing has a chance of being resolved.

If you’ve got something bothering you, learn to speak up. The other person senses you’ve got something on your mind and they are probably filling in the blanks with their own imagination. Or they take it personally and think you are being deliberately cold. Wouldn’t you rather take the risk of having a meaningful discussion and get your point across, even if the other person doesn’t like it much?

In codependent relationships, the idea of an honest conversation is almost laughable because it is so very rare — the partners have created a pattern of dishonesty. Usually one person is the one who walks on eggshells around the other, afraid of setting off their angry outbursts. But oddly enough, the angry one will usually make the accusation that THEY have to walk on eggshells because the other one is so easily hurt, offended and wounded.

In other words, the communication style is useless as far as actually communicating ideas, thoughts and feelings is concerned. All it does is perpetuate the imbalance of the relationship and make both people feel very distant and alone.

Here’s what I suggest if you’ve gotten into the habit of withholding truth from your partner, out of fear of repercussions or a disagreeable scene:

  • Sit down with your journal, a pad of paper or at your computer and make a list of several things you would like to say but are afraid to
  • Pick ONE item on the list. If you want to practice by starting with a minor issue, that’s a great confidence-builder and can help you gain courage to bring up the bigger stuff later.
  • Think through what you want to say to your partner or friend. Keep it simple and keep it short.
  • Take a deep breath, pick a time when the other person is fairly relaxed, calm and not in the middle of something that has their attention. If you are really nervous, it’s okay to read from your notes — just say “I’ve got something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about and I want to clear the air. Could I have five minutes of your attention ? Is this a good time?”  And then tell them what’s on your mind.
  • You may need to add a comment that explains what you want to see happen. If your complaint is that you don’t spend enough time together, then suggest a couple of ways to correct it, such as setting up a weekly “date night” or going for a 15-minute walk together every evening.
  • Depending on the subject you are getting honest about, understand that if it’s a big issue such as confessing a big expenditure that you’ve kept hidden until now, the other person might react in anger and dismay. Be prepared with what you are going to do to make amends for keeping this secret.

Understand that the longer you put off “getting honest” the harder it is going to be — so just go do it! You’ll breathe easier, and stand taller, knowing you are taking steps toward growing yourself into the person you want to be, instead of cowering in your fear to the extent that you lie a lot. Even if you do call it “people-pleasing” (sounds so much nicer, doesn’t it?)

your happiness guru,

Evelyn

Comments (6)

Jeanine Byers Hoag

June 12, 2010

Hi Evelyn! Great strategy for getting honest when you haven't been. I used to work as a family counselor in the chemical dependency field and got lots of practice helping family members tell their truth, confront the issues and find their voices.

It helped me learn to do the same in my own life.

And you're so right, that once you're stuck, if you start small, that will build confidence and make the next conversation easier.

Nice to have your posts as part of the blog challenge!

Jeanine

Jeanine Byers Hoag

June 12, 2010

Hi Evelyn! Great strategy for getting honest when you haven't been. I used to work as a family counselor in the chemical dependency field and got lots of practice helping family members tell their truth, confront the issues and find their voices.

It helped me learn to do the same in my own life.

And you're so right, that once you're stuck, if you start small, that will build confidence and make the next conversation easier.

Nice to have your posts as part of the blog challenge!

Jeanine

Evelyn Brooks

June 14, 2010

Thanks for the feedback, Jeanine! A pleasure "meeting" you!
Evelyn

Evelyn Brooks

June 14, 2010

Thanks for the feedback, Jeanine! A pleasure "meeting" you!
Evelyn

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