When Honesty Is Cruel

Most marriage counselors emphasize communication as the foundation for a healthy relationship--nothing should be withheld from the marital partner. There is wisdom in that advice, provided it is applied with common sense.

It's true that couples who communicate openly have a much better chance of succeeding in marriage. But any good idea can be misused--at which point the effect becomes negative. For example, it's honest for a man to tell his wife that he hates her fat legs, or her varicose veins, or the way she cooks. It's honest for a woman to dump her anger on her husband and constantly berate him for his shortcomings and his failures. But honesty that does not have the best interest of the other person at heart is really a cruel form of selfishness. This is especially true when the other person can't help the characteristics that are being criticized.

Some couples, in their determination to share every thought and opinion, systematically destroy the sweet spark of romance that once drew them together. No longer is there any sense of mystique in the relationship. They've unraveled the romantic allure that made them love one another in the first place.

I'm not suggesting that husbands and wives begin to deceive each other. I am recommending, however, that they leave something to be discovered along the way and occasionally let their anger and frustration cool down just a bit before pouring it on an unsuspecting partner in the name of honesty.

The bottom line? Let love be your guide.


By Dr. James Dobson

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