Written by Cassandra MacKinnon
Having an honest relationship
For anyone, having an honest relationship can be difficult. there are always going to be elements of ourselves that we can not, will not, or don’t know are there to share with our significant others.
But for me personally I believe it comes down to five elements.
Understanding what honesty is and when to use it
Being clear about what you want out of the relationship
That doesn’t necessarily mean hanging a sign around your neck that advertises that you just want a bed buddy, or carrying around a doll to “get ready for parenthood”. That simply means being clear about what you want, and what you might be willing to compromise on. What I found helpful was listing, either verbally, or on paper, what you do or don’t want out of your life, and also how much that might fluctuate. For instance you may decide that you don’t want marriage as an option right now, but that may change, and if so, then you would need to follow the fourth point.
As your first base, this helps to set up the rest of the game. Being truthful here, can helps move you around to the other bases.
Owning your emotions
You had a big weekend, and barely got any sleep. Though coffee will help, you may end up being snappy and irritable. Own it.
This has a lot more to do with being honest with yourself, and then sharing those feelings with your partner. Saying something out loud can give them a heads up as to our current emotional state. Sometimes it is an external force, or event, that evokes strong feelings, but it is your reaction, and the intensity and response is yours, and yours alone. Yes, people do things that can hurt us, make us feel alone or unhappy, but own that it is your reaction to it. It is your emotion,and though it may be brought forth by their actions, you need to be open with yourself and admit your feelings, being truthful with yourself first and those closest to you.
Evaluate if it is a rational emotional response or if it may be born, not of a situation that your partner created, but of a bigger issue that you have encountered in your past. Be open about what you feel, and why you feel it.
Psychologists say to use sentences like “I feel.(emotion)..when you..(action).”, and yeah, it sounds like a load of bull, but it helps the conversation, to not feel attacked by what the other person is saying. And saying it this way also helps you to be honest with yourself if you were overreacting.
Second base can feel isolated and lonely, surrounded by the opposition, trying not to get picked off. But staying calm, and learning how to take responsibility for your emotions, will help get you to third.
Pulling your partner up on behaviors/emotions that negatively affect your life together
Having a bad day? Everyone has good and bad days, including our partners. But doesn’t mean because they have had a bad day, that it entitles them to act badly, and how they act is going to impact on how you interact.
Having an honest relationship means pulling them up on their emotions/actions too. Give them some of your time to unload, and unburden. This doesn’t mean they have to be “happy happy joy joy” all the time. It does mean that you reserve the right to call them out on their behavior if it is concerning or bothering you.
If it is something in particular, that is reoccurring and is becoming overwhelming for not only them, but you as well, be honest about the fact you need help; preferably not the kind of ‘help’ you find in the bottom of a bottle either.
Communicating when the situation changes
This could mean anything from your biological clock literally ticking, to a infidelity, or simply deciding that you want to buy a new car. Anything that changes the situation needs to be communicated, financial, emotional, life changing, to life challenging. Some things can be difficult to discuss or hurtful, you need to think carefully about how to approach the subject, but it should still be talked about. Honestly, openly and with time and space given to discuss the ramifications or consequences thoroughly. If it something sensitive in nature I like to organise to meet them, one on one. This may be out in a neutral area, your house, or after the kids go to bed and are soundly asleep; better yet is a babysitter or a grandparent so they don’t have to hear you if you feel you both may become emotional. Turn your phone on silent, make sure you have a bottle of water handy or tissues if the issue is sensitive.
Sometimes, the change means you don’t agree on subjects the same anymore. And that might be something you can both cope with, but it may also be the end of the relationship. If it comes to that, then be truthful that it won’t work for you.
Be honest with yourself, and explore just what you’re willing to compromise and what you feel is definite. This is where your list from point number two would come in handy.
Honestly, honesty is the best policy, but it often comes with it’s own challenges and pitfalls.
We all share our own truth in our own ways.