Time and time again we hear Global Glue Project couples speak about the importance of telling the truth, even when it’s hard. In Erica & Michael’s chapter Staying In Truth, Michael says, “When you are in your truth, you can love more.” A dear friend of mine reminds me of this same idea by often saying, “A relationship is only as intimate as it is transparent.” In my own relationships, I have found that even when I am able to internally justify keeping something to myself, my partner can feel that I am holding something back and they are left feeling off-kilter. You can sense when you aren’t being told the entire story, when you know there is a missing piece but you have no idea what the missing piece is, that is simply crazy making.
So how do we tell our partner the entire truth, even when it may hurt them, or when we are afraid of the repercussions? One answer is to simply admit that it’s scary. If we can start from that place of, “I have to tell you something, but I am afraid,” that alone can set the stage for empathic listening and understanding. We should all strive to become “masters at honesty” as Sally & Zach share in their chapter Truth and Laughter. Like learning any new language, speaking with radical honesty takes practice, and it becomes much easier when you are on that path with someone who is willing to walk it with you.
You may think there is a danger to opening up, to speaking the hard truths, that you might reveal something irrevocable, something you can’t ever take back, that might change the way the one you love feels about you. And that is a possibility: but that change can be positive. It might make them love you even more. It will certainly make them understand you more. And they can help you understand yourself, as well.
If you want to spend your life with something, keeping something buried is a terrible idea. There’s a reason why Poe’s “A Tell-Tale Heart” remains captivating to modern readers despite its Victorian setting. We all know the feelings of guilt, that gnawing sensation that comes with trying to push something out of your mind. A lie, or even an omission, isn’t the same as Poe’s murder, of course, but we know that thrusting something away, pushing it into the shadows, never works. A toxic substance burns through the sturdiest container, and when it does, it impacts everything. Instead of trying to hide something, work with your partner to bury it together.
Check in with your partner. Is telling the truth, the complete and honest truth, even when it’s hard, something that you both agree to? A “No Secrets” rule, such as Nick & Linda’s, is something to consider. Yes, it’s hard to talk about everything, but if you make the time to do so, you can keep your relationship clean and deepen your intimacy.