In our previous Newsletter we said there are two KEY Essential Behaviors necessary for building a healthy relationship.
- both people need to be emotionally honest, and
- both people need to be willing to do the work to build the relationship.
Today we will explain the role of emotional honesty.
But first, what is emotional honesty?
At its highest level, it’s when you are fully open and vulnerable with sharing your thoughts and feelings.
You are transparent.
You don’t say one thing, while feeling or thinking something else.
Brene’ Brown would say, “It’s being authentic.”
However, there are some times when it’s not wise to be fully authentic.
When a friend asks you for feedback about her new dress,
I don’t believe you should respond with white lies, but I do believe in being diplomatic.
For instance, it may be honest to say, “I hate that dress, it looks awful on you.”
Instead, it would be both honest AND diplomatic to say,
“That dress isn’t my favorite, there are others that I think are more flattering on you.”
There is a wide range of emotional honesty. It’s not just black or white.
Sometimes we’re not even fully honest with ourselves.
For example, you might be in a committed but unhappy relationship and
want to preserve it so much that you don’t even tell yourself the truth.
This is an example of living in denial.
That’s what I did in my first marriage.
I was so committed to my marriage, that I ignored behaviors which indicated
my husband’s unwillingness to invest equally in building our relationship.
For example, when he didn’t buy me a birthday gift, I bought something for myself.
I made excuses for his behavior and told myself that I was simply being co-operative.
But inside, I felt ignored and unloved.
When he would criticize, rather than compliment my home decorating efforts, I told myself not to so be sensitive.
But inside, subconsciously, I resented him.
On the surface, everything appeared to be fine, while below the surface,
MY lack of emotional honesty contributed to a gradual erosion of our relationship.
If I had been fully authentic, I would have diplomatically told him the negative effect his behavior had on my feelings toward him.
If I had been honest with him, rather than denying my feelings, we might have been able to address the problems.
I mistakenly thought that being “nice” was helping our relationship.
Perhaps you have done something similar?
Sometimes women don’t speak up because they don’t feel safe enough to share their thoughts or feelings.
You may believe that if you are authentic, you will be rejected.
Maybe that’s true.
If it is true, it’s a clear indication that the relationship has problems that need to be addressed.
In fact, one of the easiest ways to measure the health of a relationship is to ask,
“To what degree are we both being open and honest?”
If there is a low level of emotional honesty, then you’re not really in a relationship, you’re living in an illusion of a relationship.
You cannot build a long-term, loving, and healthy relationship based on an illusion..
Dixon and I were both married previously, and both marriages failed.
Now we are both committed to authenticity and doing the work.
Do we still face some challenges? Of course, because we’re human.
But we apply those two KEY Essential Behaviors.
We work through our issues together, honestly, with patience and gradual understanding.
You can learn to do this too!
It won’t be easy, because you probably learned some negative habits from your family.
But with support (from a great coach!), you can gradually develop good habits.
You CAN build a healthy, long-term, and loving relationship!