by Nancy Van Pelt
Here are three more things women can’t do without:
A Woman Needs Honesty, Openness, and Trust
When a woman cannot trust her man implicitly to give her accurate information about what he is doing with his time and money (as well as everything else), she has no basis for a relationship with him. Trust is foundational to a highly effective marriage. Without honesty and trust there can be no openness between the couple, and every conversation will be inhibited. If she discovers he has lied to her, not given her truthful information, or told her only part of the story, this erodes her trust in him. If she senses he is not telling the truth, or not telling all of the story, she puts up her guard.
Some men are born dishonest. Telling “fibs” becomes a part of everyday life. By the time they become adults, lying is deeply entrenched. They fabricate stories about things that never happened, distort the truth, and cannot distinguish truth from fantasy. Such dishonesty radically disrupts a marriage.
Other men tell lies to avoid trouble. Let’s say a wife asks her husband if he has paid a certain bill. He hasn’t done it yet, but plans to, so he says, “It’s taken care of. Don’t worry.” He means to take care of it but forgets. She finds out later she has been lied to. When he gets caught, he acts repentant and will say and do anything to get her to “forgive and forget.” The one who lies to avoid trouble doesn’t lie all the time, but only when he is about to get caught under pressure and stress.
Still another lies to “protect” his wife from unpleasant realities – being fired or laid off from his position, borrowing money, a stupid purchase, or being unable to make the house payment – without telling her. He tells her everything is fine to maintain peace, when in fact their lives are coming apart at the seams.
In each case, he feels dishonesty is justified in order to spare his wife. But at what cost? She remains unaware of what her husband is going through. He’s irritable, depressed, and moody, and she can’t figure out why. What will happen to the marriage when she finds out he lost his job or borrowed money without her knowledge? Then the two will have to face a much larger and potentially disruptive situation. The false sense of security created by protecting a wife from the truth can be shattered in a few seconds and do irreparable damage.
When a man communicates oenly and truthfully with his wife, he contributes to her emotional security. If he is always truthful with her about everything, even when a crisis hits, he knows in advance she can handle it. It may be painful for both to hear the truth, but the truth will not drive her away. It enables her, however, to know how to adjust to the situation in order to stand by her husband’s side and encourage him as he threads his way through a difficult time.
One man and his wife worked out a signal when total honesty was needed. One would say, “On your word?” That signaled the other that total honesty was required, without game-playing or any evasion of truth. Every couple needs a similar signal so that total honesty can be quickly had when needed. Without the assurance that a wife can totally trust her husband, the relationship will limp along until it eventually staggers into trouble.
When one partner has had an affair, the relationship can be rebuilt only through this type of honesty. The couple will need counseling with a qualified counselor who understands the importance of total honesty once an affair has been confessed. Confession allows her purging for the guilty party and provides the environment needed to rebuild a stable marriage. But the injured party must regain trust once again.
Before asking for total disclosure or delivering it yourself, you need to ask yourself some insightful questions: Do I (or does my partner) really need to hear that? What will be the effect on our relationship if I do tell? For what reasons do I need to tell (or hear) that information? Will total disclosure help or hinder in this situation?
Disclosure of adultery and other personal problems must be approached on an individual basis. The wrong move could throw you into a crushing catastrophe. Seek the advice of a professional christian marital therapist before making any decisions relative to the future, and do it before too many irreparable choices have been made.
Often a man confesses and immediately demands trust from his wife. Trust cannot be turned on and off like a light. When one has been guilty of an affair, trust can be rebuilt – but not overnight. It takes time. The offending party should provide daily information about his whereabouts, accounting for all activities so they can easily be verified if needed. He might write out a schedule of appointments for her to see daily. Should the schedule change, a phone call would alert her to the change in plaans. I also recommend that the guilt party participate in a weekly “accountability group” where accountability for actions and behaviors to godly people who care is required. Accountability partners hold the individual up in prayer, yet exercise a “tough love” approach so it doesn’t happen again. In addition to these steps, if a man commits himself to daily Bible study and prayer, it signifies he is on his way to trustworthiness.
A marriage can survive many setbacks and struggles, but the one thing a marriage cannot survive is a lack of honesty.
Adapted from Highly Effective Marriage Chapter 13