Living a life of honesty is not only something for which we should all strive, but it is also essential for marriage (and all relationships, really). If we get in the habit of telling little “white” lies to people, it becomes easier to tell more lies and bigger lies. Beginning early, it is important to not fall into a pattern of lying. Maybe your girlfriend gets angry every time you hang out with a certain friend, so you lie about it so you don’t have to endure yet another fight. Maybe your boyfriend gets uncomfortable with you having coffee with a childhood friend of the opposite sex, so you just make up an alibi every time. These lies seem to work for a while, until the truth comes out (and it will come out) and trust is betrayed.
When lying is “necessary” in a relationship, there is always a much bigger problem. If you feel that you have to lie to keep the peace in your relationship, then there is a thorn (or multiple thorns) that needs to be removed. Perhaps the girlfriend above has an insecurity about her boyfriend spending time with this friend because she believes his friend is plotting to set her boyfriend up with another woman. Instead of lying to her about spending time with his friend, they should instead sit down and thoroughly discuss the issue. Getting to the root of the problem and killing it will not only build trust and intimacy in the relationship, but it will take away the temptation to lie and risk killing the relationship. The boyfriend above who is uncomfortable with his girlfriend having coffee with a childhood, male friend may have a deep-seated issue with jealously. If this is the case, such a couple should not become engaged until this issue is resolved. It is important for a couple in this situation to seek wise counsel before becoming engaged. On the other hand, the boyfriend may sense something about the male childhood friend that gives him good reason to be uncomfortable. Guys have an easier time reading other guys; they can see intentions written all over another guy’s face. Maybe this childhood friend is actually trying to be more than a friend. The situation needs to be discussed thoroughly so they can get to the root of the problem.
Simply going behind each other’s back will severely harm, if not ruin, their relationship. If talking about the problems lead to more fights and no resolution, counseling is probably necessary for the relationship to continue well. When we are in the middle of a conflict, it can be difficult to be objective. A wise, third party who is skilled in helping people work through conflict, can be invaluable in these situations. In many cases, these issues can be worked through leading to a stronger relationship. In some cases, these conflicts serve as a flashing red light that says “Run! This relationship is not healthy.”
Since we are discussing honesty, it would be a good idea to answer the question, “What does being honest mean?” Focus on the Family’s book, The First Five Years of Marriage defines it as the following: “Being honest, in the sense of telling the truth, is not the same as imparting every thought and feeling you have.” A mistake often made with new couples who are striving for an honest and open relationship is telling too much. For example, it is important that your future spouse (once he or she is being considered as such) to know if you’ve had prior sexual relationships, psychological issues, marriages, etc., but going into too much detail is not healthy. It is tempting to want to know more about your future spouse’s past, especially in regards to their sexual experience, but the more detail that is given, the more uncomfortable the other will become (for males, often anger; for females, often insecurity).
After you are married, a thought about a past girlfriend/boyfriend may cross your mind. If the thoughts continue and turn into sexually or emotionally longing thoughts, it is important to take these thoughts to the Lord. The dark spiritual forces would love nothing more than to destroy your marriage and your testimony. Going to your spouse with these thoughts may cause him or her to become insecure. Years may pass with your no further thought of that ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, but the memory of what you said about them to your spouse may stay with your spouse forever.
Honesty is extremely important in all relationships, especially marital relationships (and those relationships that are leading to marriage). Make it a point to be honest at all times, and also make it a point to refrain from asking loaded questions that are impossible to answer (e.g., “Does this dress make me look fat?”). An honest relationship will be a blessing for a lifetime; whereas, a dishonest relationship will cause angst and pain. You can count on it.
How have you experienced the joys of honesty in your relationship? What difficulties have come about from dishonesty?