For over 60 years the game show, “To Tell The Truth” has aired on television and it’s basically an exercise in honesty. Have you ever watched it? Here’s how it’s played: four celebrity panelists ask questions of three participants. One of the contestants truly has had an unusual occupation or experience while the other two contestants are imposters trying to throw off the celebrities. Only one of the three contestants is actually telling the truth. It’s a great show!
But in marriage, if you or your spouse is regularly wondering if they are hearing the truth or a fabrication, it’s no game. The “white lies,” “casual lies,” and layers of deception erode the very foundation of a marriage. Trust is broken and it can take a long time to rebuild trust and restore the value of absolute honesty in a marriage.
Building honesty in your marriage will increase the love you have for one another. Your unity will deepen because through honesty your understanding of each other’s heart will deepen.
In our work with marriages, we have observed three areas where couples can take active steps to build or maintain honesty in the daily fabric of their relationship. These aren’t systems built out of a lack of trust of one’s spouse. Rather, they become normalized out of a drive for unity and oneness at all costs. Here are the three areas to work on when building honesty in marriage:
1. Financial honesty
Hiding money and transactions is frighteningly common among married couples. In this article we read that, “According to a poll conducted on behalf of CreditCards.com, nearly 7% of the more than 1,000 adults surveyed admit to hiding a secret financial account from their spouse or partner. Two-thirds of those responding said they have a hidden credit card account, and 45% have a secret savings account.” ANY hiding of financial dealing is dishonest and breaks trust in a marriage. Even if undiscovered, the deception required injects behaviors and attitudes into the relationship that rapidly deteriorates unity.
As a couple, have a policy of openness. Pay stubs are easily accessible by either of you. Bank statements and online accounts can be viewed by you both. Each of you knows the passwords for the online accounts. Practice over disclosure of purchases—even the latte you bought on the way into work!
Talk (and pray!) about major purchases and be sure you have agreement first. We’ve seen spouses purchase cars, trucks, guns, vacations, and more without checking in with their spouse first. You have been entrusted by God with your mutual resources to be stewards together of your finances and possessions.
2. Emotional honesty
“How are you feeling, honey?” “Fine.” (When they clearly aren’t!)
Or, “Are you angry?” “NO!” (When they clearly are!)
Or, “What are you thinking?” “Nothing.” (When they seem to be pondering or brooding over something!)
Emotional honesty builds trust in a relationship because you gain a deeper understanding of how your spouse is processing and reacting to life’s situations. Dr. Willard Harley writes, “What makes a marriage successful is your willingness and ability to accommodate each other’s feelings. And without the facts about those feelings, an otherwise happy couple can become very unhappy as the events of life change.”
Make the determination that you will choose to be open about your emotions. Doing so will require a commitment to do so in a loving and respectful way that honors Jesus’ presence in your life and marriage. As you reveal more of what is going on inside both of you, your hearts will become knit in an ever-deepening love.
3. Media honesty
A counselor friend of ours once told us that 90% of the affairs he counsels started via a Facebook connection. One person searches to find an old flame from high school, or a former co-worker, or an intimate friend from years gone by. Or private messaging with someone newly found who is of interest.
Deception with media can happen through secret email accounts. One spouse may be kept from knowing the login codes for the other’s phone or computer. History files are deleted from the computer, phone or tablet because porn has been viewed.
Here are some things you can do:
- Have total access and openness of passwords to all electronic devices owned by the two of you.
- Install internet accountability software like X3watch or Covenant Eyes.
- Give your spouse complete access at any time to your social media accounts and be sure they have your passwords.
You can’t cover every eventuality, but initiating media honesty and maintaining it in your marriage goes a long way in protecting the sanctity of your marriage and trust.
Build honesty in these three areas, and you will be taking important steps to build your marriage.