Do you know what is essential to create relationship intimacy, a strong bond, and a feeling of commitment? Top of the list is integrity and honesty, and most people want their partners to be transparent about their thoughts and feelings.
So, ask yourself if this is how you are in your relationship today:
- Can you be completely honest with your partner about the deep down and difficult topics?
- Can you genuinely listen to things that might be difficult to hear?
The facts are that many marriages end because of some form of dishonesty; this is a pattern of telling lies. These can be lies of omission, avoiding information if you aren't asked the question directly. Or lies that are outright falsehoods and cover up a deeper and more painful truth from your partner.
So, if you want to be a partner in a relationship committed to sharing the truth, you'll want to read about these two lies that can easily ruin your marriage or relationship.
Two of the most significant areas where people feel compelled to lie are finances and sexuality. Sex and money are traditionally challenging subjects to discuss openly and honestly. We've also been conditioned to keep thoughts and feelings about sex and money private topics we keep to ourselves.
Why do we keep these two topics private? Many people are embarrassed by how they handle these parts of their lives and may have shadow areas around money and sex from the past. Whenever a topic is a potential source of shame, most people are more likely to lie about it. You may even find yourself going to great lengths to avoid feeling that shame from your partner.
Lying About Money Can Lead to Financial Cheating
Sharing the truth about spending habits, under-earning, or overspending with a partner can be challenging. Yet couples who are transparent and honest about finances can avoid more significant conflicts and crises around money issues and even financial infidelity, which may be as challenging to get over an actual affair.
Making an agreement and a financial plan about handling finances is essential when you and a partner move in together or get married. A good financial plan includes who will pay what bills from which account, how much to save for the future, how much risk you're comfortable taking concerning investments, etc.
Financial infidelity happens when one or both partners break the agreement without the knowledge or consent of the other. This betrayal of trust can be just as damaging as any type of infidelity.
Be sure to share with your partner an accurate picture of how you handle your money before you commit to them for the long haul. It's also helpful to share your fears about the finances you bring to the relationship. Honesty means taking risks and trusting that your partner will understand that sharing your fears means trusting them and working to live with integrity in the relationship.
Lying About Sex Can Break Down Intimacy and Lead to Affairs
For couples whose sex life is unsatisfying, it is crucial to find a way to talk about how to improve the erotic part of your life together. Resentments and distancing in the relationship can destroy intimacy, and it can become more and more stressful as time goes on if you avoid the conversation.
Do you and your partner a favor and have the hard talk now, even if discussing what you desire feels scary to share or say out loud. When you avoid having that meaningful conversation, it will only make it more challenging to have those conversations later in the relationship. You also risk taking your erotic needs outside of the relationship, into an affair, to an outside partner who you imagine will fill your desires better than your spouse.
Although you might fantasize about having an affair, the reality is that love affairs can be complicated and very stressful. Lying about an outside relationship can take its toll on you and your affair partner. And if you decide to end the affair and stay with your spouse, your marriage will never be the same.
While some affairs can wake up your marriage, recovering from the shock of the betrayal can still be hard. If you have been lying to your partner for a long time, the crisis of trust may be difficult, if not impossible, to get past.
What's the Difference Between Being Secretive and Private in Relationships?
Some parts of your life you may choose to keep private. So, should you share everything with your partner? Well, that all depends on what aspects of your thoughts and behaviors you consider your own and why you consider them your own.
Your private life is different from keeping a secret from your spouse. If you are doing something you are worried your partner will find out about or go to great lengths to hide from them, this is clearly a secret. It may also be a red flag that you've crossed the line into something that will damage your relationship and your partner. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Why are you hiding something from your spouse?
- Why don’t you want your partner to discover the secret?
If you withhold information that you suspect your partner would disapprove of or hurt them, that will make them angry if they knew. Ask yourself how it's affecting you:
- Do you feel bad about yourself when you keep that secret?
- Is it worth it to keep a secret from your partner?
Sometimes people hide interactions with an ex, a "work spouse," or a friend, behaviors that could be considered micro-cheating or an emotional affair. If so, you could risk hurting your partner or losing your marriage. More importantly, you could be damaging your view of yourself.
It doesn't matter what other people think. It matters what you think. Ask yourself these three questions:
- Are you being honest with yourself?
- Are you telling the truth?
- Are you living with integrity?
Sharing Deeply Personal Thoughts Can Bring You and Your Partner Closer
If you want to be successful as a committed couple and value intimacy, then learning to share at a deep level is vital. It can also be scary but essential. Ask yourself:
- What should you share with your partner?
- What should you keep to yourself?
- What would upset your partner if they knew?
- Are you telling your partner something only to make yourself feel better?
- Are there things you should be honest about because you have been hiding them unnecessarily from your partner?
Take the first step. Disclose something risky or personal to your partner. Express your vulnerability and tell them how nervous you feel sharing your feelings. Your partner may feel upset depending on what you're sharing. Be sure to empathize and validate those hurt or angry feelings.
When you share something, please stay in the moment, no matter how uncomfortable, and allow your partner to express their feelings about your disclosure. The feelings will likely change, subside, or become a more extended conversation. If you are not defensive and avoid attacking your partner, your intimacy levels may deepen due to honesty.
Once you've got things out in the open, your partner may feel much safer disclosing something they've been keeping from you. Then, you can both commit to a more open and honest relationship for your future. You can both genuinely see one another for the first time in the relationship.
So, if you want a deeper and more trusting relationship than you've experienced in the past, it will take some risk. Honesty is tough. It's not for wimps. However, living in a healthy, long-lasting, loving, and joyful relationship is always worth it. Life becomes so much sweeter!
If you're ready to do the work to divorce proof your marriage and create an honest and trusting relationship, we're here to help with our online and in-person Imago Relationship Workshops and Relationship Therapy.
This blog post was written by Dr. Tammy Nelson, PHD, CST, CSCT, LPC, LADC.
Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., is a sex and relationship expert, an international speaker, an author, and a licensed psychotherapist with almost thirty years of experience working with individuals and couples.
She is a TEDx speaker and host of the podcast The Trouble with Sex and the author of six books, including Open Monogamy; A Guide to Co-Creating Your Ideal Relationship Agreement, Integrative Sex & Couples Therapy, When You’re The One Who Cheats, Ten Things You Need to Know, The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity and Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together as well as What’s Eating You: A Workbook for Teens with Anorexia, Bulimia, and other Eating Disorders.
Tammy is the Executive Director of the Integrative Sex Therapy Institute and a Board Certified Sexologist, an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Imago Relationship therapist, and a Certified Sex and Couples Therapist.
She has been a featured expert in hundreds of articles, including the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and a source for Time Magazine. She can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and at www.drtammynelson.com.