Can honesty ever be bad for a relationship?
Yes, there are some risks to being honest in a relationship. Your partner may not like what they hear. Their reaction may be intense enough that it costs you the relationship. We understand that at times being honest seems too risky. Especially if it is something you have been lying about for a while.
Do you have secrets? Were there small lies that you told early on that now you’re unsure how to correct? You may have behaviors you are engaged in that you have been keeping hidden. Perhaps you have already been denying your behaviors, how do you now come clean?
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How Humor Heals Relationships
My partner and I had been together for 4 years and to be honest things were not going well. We had been fighting, I had felt unappreciated, he had felt misunderstood and the relationship was in need of quick and sturdy repair. I couldn’t tell you the last time we’d had fun together, enjoyed a joke, or even cracked a smile. We couldn’t remember all the reasons we came together in the first place, the joys we took in each other’s personality, or the happiness we and once brought each other. It was falling apart, we were falling apart and neither one of us knew how to save “us” or if we even wanted to.
I can remember him asking me what I needed. What I needed was to be thought of, shown that I was important, that he still knew me, and most of all, I needed to laugh again. I needed our relationship to have the humor and levity, the fun we once had together.
Humor is important in relationships.
“Life cannot be serious all the time, you have to make room for lightheartedness in relationships if you want to have balanced love.
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Is there a time to not be honest in a relationship?
There are times when honesty is not helpful. One type of honesty that is not helpful is the so called brutal honesty. This kind of harsh honesty is something that does not belong in a relationship. Brutal is not a word synonymous with healthy relationships.
An example of Brutal Honesty would be telling someone you “never were very attracted to them”. Yes, it may be honest. No, its not helpful. It’s just cruel. Being brutally honest is just that, brutal.
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Vulnerability and exposure in relationships
Many of you know what it’s like to live in a renovation project. A year ago I bought my house below market price knowing it would need a lot of work. Four months into the renovation I described my life to a friend as coming home daily to a Christmas nativity calendar, I just never know what I’ll find when I open the front door. On this particular day I opened the front door to discover something that left me very contemplative, honestly it took my breath away.
I found that I had no internal doors in my home. Not a one, not a cabinet, closet, pantry, drawer, or room door.
I was left with a feeling of being very exposed, as if there all my secrets were for the world to see. I had a friend coming over to watch a movie later that evening and my first impulse was to call him and cancel. After all, I couldn’t let him see all of this, all of me.
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To Stay or Not To Stay?
In a relationship that’s struggling at some point or another we all wonder if the pros of staying really outweigh the daily stress, fights, and emotional weight of a troubled relationship. We may even decide to pull out a piece of paper and write out a pro and con list. I can think back to the 90’s sitcom “Friends” and the list that got the character Ross in so much trouble when it was found by Rachel. But this is actually a really good example of what I want to discuss today.
If you can remember the episode, Ross was trying to decide between staying in his current happy relationship or leaving for the girl he has had a crush on since he was a teen. On his current girlfriend’s pro column there were items like good communication, we have fun together, similar career and education level. The con’s for Rachel were things like we don’t have much in common, she is a waitress (implying that there was a vast educational and level of career drive difference), and different opinions and values. The obvious implication would be that he should stay in his current happy relationship and let go of the idea of being with Rachel. This would have been obvious except for one item on Rachel’s pro list, that item was “It’s Rachel.”
So why do we do this? Why against all evidence to the contrary we allow our heart to overrule all rational explanation? Is it really allowing our hearts to guide us, or is it a trick of the mind that takes over and leads us down a familiar unhealthy path that will end up in repeating old pain and feelings of rejection.
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Three Steps to Creating Positive and Permanent Change
The one question I hear more than any other from my clients is, “is it possible to change”? I hear this question in every area of concern from communication habits to addictive behaviors to ways of relating to each other in relationships. Again and again I hear, “Well maybe this is just how I am, how can I change now?” Or, “I’ve always done things this way; this is the only way I know.”
Of course the answer is yes, anyone can change no matter how old they are or how long they’ve been responding in a certain way. Creating change takes awareness of other ways of handling a situation, many people learned a way to respond to situation from their family or community and have no idea there are other responses available to them.
Step one in creating change:
Understand that there are other ways of responding or being
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