I want my wife to be happy and I want her to have the best. However, there are times when I must be honest with her knowing that it may hurt her feelings, embarrass her, or otherwise, not be very pleasant. However, not being honest would result in much worse. Therefore, being honest with your spouse is the best policy. Sometimes tough love is necessary to bring about happiness later. Sometimes the good things require lots of hard and undesirable work, but it is necessary to accomplish our happy marriage goals.
I am a very pragmatic guy. I’m an analytical thinker and am not very in tuned to emotions in many circumstances. I did not have touchy-feely parents or household when I was growing up. I don’t feel things the way others do, so I had to learn how to relate to people’s feelings, especially my wife. The benefits of this disposition are that I am naturally poised to be straight with people, even do doing so did not always produce the desired effect. Sometimes, people just don’t want the truth, but rather they just want you to stroke their feelings or ego. I struggled with that and had to make great strides to learn how to do it and how to recognize it. Perhaps you are like that too, or perhaps you are the one with a very pragmatic spouse and think he or she is insensitive. I’d like to provide a few points to help you be honest with your spouse.
#1 Know What is Going on With Your Spouse.
This means that you must nurture an intimate relationship with your spouse. Be involved with your spouse’s life and know what challenges, struggles, pains, and pleasures he or she is experiencing. Knowing this will help you interpret what he or she is saying to you. If you aren’t aware of your spouses “world,” then you are very likely to misinterpret what he or she wants from you at a given time. Sometimes the husband isn’t looking for a solution or a kiss. Sometimes the husband just wants someone to listen and tell him that everything will be alright and that his wife is with him. Togetherness is extremely important in a marriage.
#2 Learn Your Spouse’s Love Language and Share Yours
How does your spouse define love? How does your spouse give and receive love to and from you respectively? These are things you must know, else you can go for many years not really receiving love from your spouse, which in turn can produce resentment leading to separation.
Knowing your spouse’s love language will help you relate to him or her in an honest and straightforward way. You’ll know when to love on him, so to speak. You’ll know when she needs to feel loved because of an issue in her life, etc. Basically, knowing your spouse’s love language is a special case of knowing how to communicate with him or her. You become aware of their love language so that you can communicate love to reinforce and nurture the relationship and to provide comfort and reassurance when needed.
Learning your spouse’s love language is a very beneficial thing to do. However, it also is very beneficial to the relationship for you to share your love language with your spouse. Tell her naturally how you view love, what it means to you, how you receive it, and what you do when you love. Tell your spouse the things that you do that shows you love him or her. Your spouse will then be able to put things into proper perspective when he or she experiences one of your acts of love in the future. So, share your love language in addition to learning your spouse’s.
#3 Don’t Lie to Your Spouse
How can you be honest with your spouse if you regularly lie to him or her? Lying can take many forms. Your wife may ask you if you like a dish she cooked for you. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, you may say you loved it, but in fact, you didn’t like it. I admit that it is very tricky, to be honest in some situations, but it is a necessity, even though it may be problematic at that time. You could say something like, “It’s nice and thank you for cooking this for me.” Your spouse, who has mastered #1 above, would know that what you are saying is that you appreciate the dish, but that you really didn’t like it. Nothing else needs to be said. If you lie and tell her you loved it, then she may cook it for you again in the future, and after a while, she’ll discover that you didn’t like the dish after all these months or years. That situation is much worse than just being honest in the first place.
Tell the truth and your spouse will get used to you doing so and learn how to properly interpret your candor. Don’t build a marriage relationship on lies even if you have justified those lies. The truth is much easier to maintain, but a lie requires that you remember the fabrication for years to come. God help you if you forget what your lie was when your husband or wife brings it up 5 years later.
#4 Talk Often
The more you and your spouse talk to each other and ask questions about each other, then the more you will get to know each other. Referring to #3 above, if your wife, for example, knows that you hate liver, then it is much less likely that she will try to cook you a liver dish to surprise you. There is so much that can be gained in a marriage if the husband and wife just sit down (or lay down) and talk to each other. Even after sex, it is good to cuddle (I know guys don’t think about it that way, but it’s true). Tell your spouse what you liked and don’t mention what you didn’t like unless asked (or it was really bad for you). Your spouse, who knows you better, will understand that if you didn’t mention it that you probably didn’t like it.
#5 Be Natural and Not Scientific
Being honest with your spouse doesn’t mean that you must bring up every little thing that you don’t like or find problematic. You don’t have to volunteer information as if you’re doing a survey or review. Be natural with your honesty. If asked, then tell the truth. If you are not asked, then you may not need to say anything.
I tend not to volunteer information about my thoughts or feelings about something my wife does if done only one time, except if it is something critical to me. However, I will say something if she does it again and then perhaps a third time in the future. Sometimes something done once isn’t something that your spouse would typically do, so you don’t have to feel as though you must give a review or critique of everything he or she does.
#6 Try to Be Empathetic
This is where I struggle. Believe it or not, it is difficult for me to empathize with people in some situations because my brain runs on logic and algorithms. Let me give you an example that may shock you. Many years ago, after my wife’s father died, she sat on the side of the bed one morning and started to cry. I literally didn’t know or more precisely, couldn’t relate to why she was crying. Then I reasoned, “Duh, dude. She is crying because of her father’s death. She was feeling something.” At that “revelation,” I was able to act accordingly (at least what I thought was accordingly).
Try to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes so to speak when you are being truthful. The delivery is just as important as the truth itself. For example, it would be stupid for me to tell my wife, “Carla. This chicken dish you cooked is very nasty and makes me want to throw up.” I don’t think that would go over too well. Instead, I could say something like (if asked), “I’m not a fan of that seasoning, but I really appreciate the dish. It was good. Just not a fan of a particular seasoning in it.” However, you may have a wife or husband that you could just blurt out what you want to say, like, “Honey. That was nasty. Don’t cook that for me again,” and he or she may say, “Ok. I won’t cook that again.” This reminds me of Frank and Marie of “Everybody Loves Raymond” television show. Anyway, be honest and consider your spouse’s way of interpreting things, etc. Be honest in a way he or she can accept the information without being offended or hurt, even though they still may get offended or hurt. It’s always a risk because you never really know how a human is going to receive something.
#7 Be Honest For the Good Too
When we think of being honest with our spouse, we sometimes think of telling him or her something that is undesirable. Not so. Being honest is across the board so to speak. Be honest about the good and the bad. Tell your husband how much you appreciate something he did and that you thought he did a great job. Tell your wife when she cooks a great meal for you or made you feel special. Be honest about the good and the bad.
Doing this will help your spouse realize that any criticism you may give in the future is not an attack on her, but rather an honest assessment for the good of the relationship. He or she will come to realize that you are just an honest person and that he or she can expect you to tell the truth all the time. No guessing or reading between the lines necessary most of the time (hey we’re not perfect).
#8 Sacrifice Sometimes
Now listen. I said that you should always tell the truth to your spouse. That means that you should be straight with him or her. Let’s face it though. We are human, and emotions may weigh more than the facts in our minds. In other words, I may not want to be completely straight if I know that it will definitely destroy my wife’s feelings. This doesn’t mean that I don’t be honest, but that I control or throttle my honesty. I may tell her later or a bit at a time.
However, there are times when I may decide that it doesn’t matter. Using my previous example, I may decide that I’m not going to tell my wife that I didn’t like a dish she cooked. It wasn’t nasty, but rather it just isn’t something that I would normally eat. Perhaps it is a new taste that I have to get used to—Brussel sprouts anyone. Perhaps I may sacrifice and just eat it whenever she cooked it. Perhaps it is a taste that just needs to grow on me. That has really happened. Of course, you won’t lie to your spouse, but that doesn’t mean that you have to cut things off right out of the gate so to speak too. If your husband just bought a new jacket and he seems to love it a whole lot, then you may decide not to tell him that you don’t like it. You can tell him that it looks nice on him or something like that (if it does) and leave it at that. Let him enjoy his jacket.
I could go on and on here. The bottom line is that sometimes you may have to sacrifice and allow your spouse to enjoy his or her moment, appreciate what he or she has done regardless of your thoughts or feelings. It’s like, “It’s the thought that counts” adage.
#9 Don’t Take Things So Emotionally
If your spouse is practicing honesty, then the last thing you should do is take things emotionally. Stop assuming that he or she is out to get you and just wants to attack you to establish their dominance or independence. Instead, assume that he or she is simply trying to establish a happy marriage relationship by building an environment of honesty. Let your spouse know that it is safe, to be honest with you, else he or she will stop doing so, which will cause all kinds of problems in the marriage as time goes by. Don’t’ respond emotionally, but instead, listen to what he or she said, swallow your pride and ego, and judge appropriately. Perhaps he or she has a point, or perhaps he or she has misunderstood something you said or did. You won’t get to the bottom of this if you simply respond emotionally.
#10 Evaluate Yourself Often
You and your spouse are constantly communicating with each other whether you realize it or not. We are constantly responding and adjusting our behavior and actions to what we experience day to day from our spouse. Therefore, it is expedient that you evaluate yourself to see if you are being the best you can be and if you are being honest with your spouse.
This will help you to discern things that you may need to improve on even if your spouse doesn’t say anything about it. Read the behavior of your spouse and adjust accordingly. Of course, you should query your spouse as well, to facilitate your personal improvement
#11 Give Your Spouse the Opportunity to Vent
Like I said earlier, sometimes we simply do not want to hurt our spouse’s feelings and no matter how honest we attempt to be, there will always be times when we keep our mouths closed so to speak. Therefore, take some time every so often to allow your spouse to vent. Ask questions about things you do to see what she or he says. Tell each other that you promise not to get mad…and do that! The purpose of this is to ensure that your spouse knows that it is safe to talk to you about things that are a concern.
A resolution should always accompany the venting. Don’t complain to your spouse about the way he or she leaves a mess around the house. Let him or her know how that makes you feel and what can be done about it. We tend to believe that everyone is just like we are. Nope! Always resolve conflicts, which venting will bring up sometimes. That way you feel really good about accomplishing something instead of feeling that you were beaten up by your spouse.
These are just some of the things that can be done to create an environment in the marriage relationship where honesty can be free to flourish. The goal is always a happy marriage, and it is difficult to be happy if the relationship is based on lies or facades.