Is honesty really the best policy?

It’s a question that many of us may struggle with from time to time. But in a marriage – especially post-affair – honesty is a must-do. Without it, your marriage likely will not survive.

In this blog, we’ll look at honesty and its place in your marriage. But keep reading to discover two surprising dangers associated with adhering to “honesty is the best policy.”

The Nuances of Honesty in a Healthy Marriage

Most of us have been in the predicament of being asked a question in which we hesitate to provide an honest answer to our spouse:

· Does this shirt make me look fat?
· How did you like the dinner I made tonight?
· Is that suit you’re wearing new, and how much was it?

These are areas where we may be tempted to fudge a bit on the truth, offering what’s commonly known as the “white lie.” We don’t wish to hurt our spouse’s feelings, or kick off an argument about spending habits and just how many suits are enough.

In a healthy relationship, honesty is a critical component. It helps form the bedrock of a strong communication bond. In order to save your marriage and rebuild trust, honesty needs to be prioritized as a communication “must” – especially after an affair.

To survive an affair, honesty must be restored, so that a sense of trust in the cheating spouse can be fostered. But the emotional after-effects of an affair can create a dicey minefield when it comes to honest and open communication. Think of an affair and its devastation as being similar to a bomb that has been dropped on communication lines during a war: it takes time and effort to get things repaired.


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As you and your spouse work together toward rebuilding your marriage, there will be many uncomfortable conversations, and multiple fits and starts as you each work to build transparency into your relationship. Also, you may both need to learn improved communication skills that involve listening and talking, so things may not be smooth at first.

And as you work to incorporate honesty into your marriage, you need to be mindful of a couple of dangers that come with making honesty the best policy.

Handling Honesty Responsibly Post-Affair

You realize the importance of honesty in your marriage – and after the affair, more than ever. But does this mean that now you can’t even tell a little white lie, or else you’ll be jeopardizing your marriage?

Yes, it may make you uncomfortable now to tell even a small untruth, if you’re truly committed to the process of being honest in all dealings with your spouse.

So when asked, “Honey, does this golf shirt make me look fat,” you could ask, “Before I answer, are you sure you want me to answer that question, just in case the answer is one you don’t really want to hear?” There are ways to be honest without crushing your spouse’s feelings.

Honesty is a strong force, and it needs to be wielded responsibly so as to preserve the good of it. Here are some other danger zones to beware of when applying honesty as the best policy in rebuilding your marriage:

Honesty Danger 1: Conversation overheat

Especially after an affair, many conversations you have with your spouse can be potentially explosive. If you employ complete honesty during these conversations, keep in mind that this topic is a hot one – and therefore, honesty in this context can lead to the conversation becoming too heated to actually help matters.

If, during one of these times, you find that you feel too upset to continue, or that the honesty is too much to take, don’t hesitate to step away from that particular conversation.

This can be something you and your spouse can agree on prior to the conversation, if you know it has the potential of becoming overheated: agree that either of you can say “This is too much for me at the moment, and I need to step away to collect myself.” Just be careful that this isn’t overused as an attempt to avoid talking.

Honesty Danger 2: The Bludgeon Effect

When you’re angry, it can be tempting to “just be honest” and tell your spouse exactly what you think of them: every flaw that gets under your skin or annoying habit they have or criticisms about things they can’t change or have any control over.

This is using honesty as a means to subtly “bludgeon” your spouse, but hiding it behind the more acceptable “honesty is the best policy” approach. Honesty must be wielded responsibly at all times, and thought needs to go into what it is you and your spouse wish to communicate one another.

Agree with your spouse that before you use honesty with one another, you will have thought out first what it is you want to say and evaluated whether or not it will truly help move your relationship forward – which is your ultimate goal.

My very best to you as you navigate this post-affair time and save your marriage.

How was the level of honesty between you and your spouse prior to the affair? And now, post-affair?
Have you found yourself venturing into the danger zones of honesty? Has your spouse?

What is one thing you can do to use honesty more responsibly in your marriage to help move the rebuilding process forward?

Please share your ideas and struggles on the issue of rebuilding honesty after the affair.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson
Marriage Sherpa

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