“You lied to me,” Sarah told her fiancé, Alex. “I’m very upset that you would lie to me.” To avoid being with Sarah’s extended family for an entire evening, Alex said he had a business engagement entertaining clients at the same time. Instead, he played tennis with one of his friends, who inadvertently spilled the beans to Sarah. Alex gave lots of excuses for his lapse in judgment, insisting he had been under heavy stress and just couldn’t handle the family get-together. What should Sarah do?
Honesty is at the very core of great relationships. Without it, couples will do nothing more than limp along. But those that adhere to absolute trust and truthfulness are free to gallop ahead at full stride.
There are three levels of truth-telling:
The first is the verbal level.
Lies represent verbal violations that have a powerfully negative impact on trust. If a woman covers her lack of punctuality by insisting “traffic was terrible,” damage is done to the relationship. If a man says he didn’t stop on the way home for a drink, but he did, there will be a price to pay. Obviously, the more serious the infraction, the greater the tax on the relationship.
Second, truth is crucial on the behavioural level.
Both partners need to follow through on what they say. Words must be backed up by actions. If you promise to show up for an appointment on time, you should be there on time. If you say you’ll send a thank you note to friends who had you over for dinner, you need to do it. Maintaining behavioural integrity contributes deeply to the building of a secure relationship.
Finally, it’s important to be truthful on the “being” level.
This level may never get talked about, but it will be vital to the health of the developing relationship. For instance, if a marriage partner pursues inner health, that person will be making a crucial “being” contribution. But when that person gets pressured to be something he or she is not, the relationship is sure to suffer.
Personal decisions that are made out of timidity or coercion represent a surrender of one’s integrity and commitment to a false self. But those actions and attitudes that emanate from authentic parts of yourself fortify the relationship.
Want a fantastic relationship? Maximize the trust factor by being completely honest each and every time the need arises. Tell the truth, behave the truth, and be the truth. Under these conditions, a relationship is sure to thrive and flourish.