The relationship that my husband and I share is also based upon a policy of honesty. It really was a bit difficult at the beginning, because courtship is a complicated balance of getting to know a person and trying not to scare them off. We benefited from having known each other as friends before becoming involved romantically.
We had each come from previous relationships that contained a lot of drama and mind games. Agreeing not to engage in the old toxic activities was one thing, but actually breaking old habits is more difficult. We have a new set of rules:
If you need to say something, say it. If it’s hard to find the words, then say what you can and we’ll figure out the rest together.
Communication is important. If we know what’s going on in each others’ lives, it’s easier to understand a stressful day or an unintended snappy remark.
Respect each other.
If you want something, ask for it.
If you don’t want something, say so.
If you ask a question, expect an honest answer. If you don’t want to know, don’t ask.
Be polite. Say “please” and “thank you”.
Trust your partner’s words as truth. If you tell each other the truth, you don’t need to try to second guess what they really meant. Take their word for what it is.
Use other mediums if you’re finding it difficult to talk to your partner directly. Email, a letter, or some other kind of message. Sometimes difficult or upsetting situations make it difficult to talk. Through writing we can collect our thoughts and organize them in a more constructive way.
Avoid using past issues in a current discussion. Old baggage is usually used in an argument for inducing guilt or some other reaction. If past issues are not part of the current problem, don’t bring them up.
Try not to raise your voice. It escalates the situation and shows disrespect. You want to resolve the conflict, not end up regretting things you shouted in anger when you let your emotions get the best of you.
Don’t insult or demean your partner. If you have real issues, speak about them openly and honestly. Schoolyard tactics have no place in your marriage.
Never use the excuse of “being honest” to intentionally hurt someone else for any reason. No one should be proud of “brutal honesty”.
Be aware of manipulative body language. It’s really easy to do and everyone does it to some extent every day. But you can make your marriage a manipulation-free zone.
Don’t use sex as a weapon, a political statement, or a tool to get what you want. Sex should remain a loving act between two willing partners.
Telling the truth is sometimes hard. Be accepting of the truth.
A foundation is important in order to support all this honesty. It’s a lot easier to handle a little hard truth now and then when you know you are loved and appreciated. We make sure to tell each other that we love each other. We show our appreciation for ordinary and extraordinary things.