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Why Honesty Is The Best Policy In Marriage

It was February 19th, 2012 and I wrote: “I am feeling extreme gratitude for this weekend. I had a ton of fun on the Golden Coast and experienced amazing transformation.”

I had just attended the “Making A MILLION Look Small” conference, where I learned from Bob Proctor, Peggy McColl, Gay Hendricks, and Mary Morrissey and met amazing people that later became my classmates in the course of the same name.

Gay Hendricks - Elayna Fernandez - MOMtivation the positive mom blog

One of the most memorable moments for me was listening to Gay Hendricks on the first day of the seminar talk about how he met his wife, Katie Hendricks. Meeting Gay and interacting with him and observing his relationship with his beautiful vibrant wife really inspires me to be open to a loving relationship filled with exhilarating playfulness, “spiciness” and romance. 🙂

I had just started opening myself up to the idea of being in a romantic relationship again, and just two days earlier I had gone on a date with this man that my daughters had set up, “because it was Valentine’s Day!” Gay Hendricks told the story about how he asked her out on a date by first establishing that he was seeking for a relationship based on ultimate honesty and the celebration of personal responsibility.

I thought that was very powerful and I knew instantly that is something I craved. Ironically, it was during that trip that he asked me to become his girlfriend. In the spirit of honesty, I said I would think about it, but you know how that story ends. Well, sort of – at this moment, I don’t even know how that story ends!

I believe the principle of honesty is critical and essential to our growth and happiness. I always teach my daughters about this and remind them that 4 out 10 commandments are related to dishonesty:

 The Last 4 Commandments
7 “You shall not commit adultery.
8 “You shall not steal.
9 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

But honesty is more than telling the whole truth all the time. Dishonesty can take the form of making vague or ambiguous claims, exaggerating or minimizing, telling a half truth or hiding important details to mislead the listener, or even manipulating what is being said.

Honesty is important in all relationships – even your relationship with yourself. Honesty is a requirement for trust to exist. Trust is truly the foundation of a relationship and I can daresay that without trust, there really isn’t a relationship.

Trust is necessary for intimacy to develop. Dishonesty creates disconnection, strife, and literal separation. There’s an Irish proverb that says “when mistrust comes in, love goes out.”

When mistrust comes in, loves goes out - Irish Proverb

When my husband and I separated, I really couldn’t tell you why. After almost six years of marriage, I felt I was living with a stranger, or worse, an enemy. I could tell something everything was wrong and he was hiding something. When I confronted him, he would deny it, and I chose – numerous times – to try to be patient, but the increasing depression, anxiety, and panic attacks told me I couldn’t go on.

I felt the connection between us had vanished forever and I constantly mourned this painful loss. My emotions went in a circle of emptiness, sadness, and anger.

And as we mortals often do, I found myself asking why. It wasn’t why would he do this? but more like why wouldn’t he tell what was going on?

When the truth of his addiction came to the surface, it was enlightening. It helped me make sense of what had been going on. The truth was devastating, I felt disrespected, I felt unloved, unsupported, and uncared for, I felt like a fool; but the truth brought clarity to the chaos and confusion that had been triggering me for so long. It was a relief.

I felt compassion for him and that was scary. I didn’t want to trust him because that would be too much of a risk. Even though I had trusted my intuition, his lies had robbed me of the freedom to make well-informed choices and there was a sense of indignation that wouldn’t leave me alone because it seemed he had a false concept of who I was and my values. I value the truth, even when – and especially – when it’s painful.

He told himself he had to protect me from the truth. He told himself I wouldn’t understand. But I would understand, and I do. We are dishonest when we are afraid to be fully seen in our imperfection, to be rejected, to be hurt, to be abandoned. We lie to cover up our mistakes, to gain a false sense of control over ourselves, the other people involved, and the situation.

The cost of dishonesty is steep and its promises are empty. There’s no such thing as having secrets – secrets really have us. We operate in the world as someone who is trying to avoid the real and imagined consequences we are terrified of. We live in fear of this perceived danger and we start to create false truths to manage the guilt and shame that imprisons us.

We build walls to keep the truth out. We start to resent and withdraw. We become easily frustrated, extremely irritable, and consciously critical. And in the intersection of denial, justification, and rationalization, we deceive ourselves and make our lies be about the other person: victim-blaming at its finest. And this is what triggered me and what caused our separation.

Such is the damaging power of dishonesty. Deception destroys relationships because trust is fragile. Lies can break up friendships, marriages, and families. He said he lied because he was afraid to lose me, but it is because he lied that he did.

It seems easier to sweep things under the rug, to hide our true self so we don’t need to accept, confront, or face hard truths. I once heard it’s easier to be honest 100% than 98% of the time, and that rings true to me, yet I know that true honesty is not always easy. It does take a great deal of courage to be vulnerable, to be transparent, to be authentic, and to uncover your true self.

But the truth is unavoidable and even if we end up believing our own lies. Dishonesty is destructive and it breaks the liar’s own heart.

If we’re honest, we will confess that we’ve all lied and learned that lying is only conducive to more lies, misery and failure. The truth allows us to be heard, seen, understood, loved, and accepted just as we are. Honesty builds trust, trust builds intimacy, and intimacy gives meaning to our relationships.

I’ve learned that being honest is a conscious, pre-meditated choice one must make.  It takes a split second to go either in the direction of transparency or toward telling lies.

I admit there may be gray areas in this whole “honesty is the best policy” deal, but those specific questions must be addressed to a Higher Being. The answer will be revealed personally to each of us.

Honesty is the best policy in marriage

Once again, like that night in February 2012 in a Los Angeles hotel, I wrote my feelings of gratitude for the wisdom that was imparted. Today I am grateful to my own PAIN, my greatest teacher.

The betrayal, breakup, and separation hurt me deeply, yet those wounds revealed so much about the person I want to be and the relationship I want to be in. I believe that the exercising of this virtue is a healthy expectation of the people in our lives, as well as a gift we can bless their lives with.

The Four Agreements - BE impeccable with your word.

The past few months have been trying, both sensing and hearing truths that are hard and heartbreaking. Although the heartache hasn’t gone away and the trust remains broken, my peace has restored and my own commitment to ultimate honesty.

I’m reminded of the first of don Miguel’s The Four Agreements in my favorite book of the same name: Be Impeccable with your Word. This principle teaches us to speak in integrity and to only use our Word in the direction of love and truth. After all, while honesty is the best policy in marriage, self-honesty is the best policy to live a happy, purposeful, and fulfilling life.

Do you think honesty is the best policy? Tell us about it in the comment section below! I love learning from you!


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