What role does honesty play in relationships?
Most people insist on honesty from others, but lie 24/7 to themselves. How well is that working? How well is communication between partners doing? What would happen if we flipped the ratios, and were more honest with ourselves and less determined to be honest at any cost with our partners?
Before you get up in arms about this, insisting that honesty is the best policy in all circumstances, remember the last time you brought something home to wear that you weren’t sure about. Did you ask your husband or your partner, “How do I look in this?” What did you wish to hear from him? How willing were you to hear if it wasn’t flattering? Did you put your poor man in a double bind, where he was supposed to be honest, while knowing that doing so would cause huge upset in your universe? And how often do you put your own blinders on, entering into or continuing a relationship that isn’t working, hasn’t ever worked, wouldn’t work, for reasons that would be so bizarre as to be unbelievable if you put them into words?
Some examples of this are, “I would leave my husband but I don’t have any money,” “I know he’s really a good person even though his rage destroys everything I create,” “I know my lover wants to be with me even though we’ve been together for 7 years and he still hasn’t left his wife.”
Do these examples put the phenomena of being honest and “lying” in a different perspective? One of the most difficult aspects of working with people with their relationships (which is hands down the greatest area of insanity on the planet, I must say!) is how little honesty they can tolerate. The inability to be honest with themselves shows up also in their inability to receive the very assistance they say they’re seeking when they consult us.
“People just want us to fluff their auras,” my husband commented this morning. They want us to say things that will make them feel better about the very untenable situations they’re consulting us about.
Am I wrong? Are the situations I consider untenable (untenable means “unable to be maintained” according to my computer’s dictionary. I spoke today with a woman who I met in one of my classes. To hear her speak, the marriage was untenable. She hadn’t had sex with her husband for 4 years and wasn’t interested in doing so in the foreseeable future. I (foolishly) assumed the marriage was a “done deal,” history, not worthy of devoting much time or attention to since it would so surely soon be over.
Six months later, I received a gift from her, signed from her whole family as if they were a
cohesive viable unit. Clearly what is untenable in the telling is more easily sustained in the
doing, especially when the break is painful. And when change involves the end of a nonfunctional relationship, is it possible to not be painful?
Is not the very revenge, anger, pettiness, selfishness, insanity, and other factors that are demanding one person end the relationship at any cost enough to guarantee the ending will be messy, no matter how much the more conscious partner may wish otherwise?
I have a friend who divorced his wife because he looked at what was required for the relationship to work. Of the 8 conditions, 7 of them would have required his wife to change what she considered her basic personality traits. He figured to demand she change her very being in that manner would be cruel, and it was far kinder to leave and allow both of them to find situations more satisfying to both of them.Even though he gave her a very generous financial settlement, her point of view is that in leaving her, HE was cruel. “I gave you the best years of my life and you left me!” she has been known to wail to her children and her friends.If you find yourself in a situation where you are separating from someone who will have the tendency to indulge in such self-pitying logic, brace yourself and carry on. There will be no understanding their position for you–insanity is not comprehensible to anyone but the insane person. You will make yourself insane if you try Conversely, telling the truth to others is not necessarily the best policy, as in, “Does this make me look fat?”
What if you were to tell others what they wish to hear, or at least, not tell them anything that would be less than kind, complementary and helpful unless it was a life or death necessity that they hear it?
Does it seem to lying when you tell less than the truth? What if “your truth” were not the absolute you believe it to be, but merely one point of view among many that were possible? However, valuable it is to you, is it valuable to someone else, especially if it’s hurtful or painful for them to look at it?