This may be sound advice in some situations, and even in some marriages. If your marriage is based on romance and chemistry, and if you feel your love can survive with only the nourishment provided by flowers and evenings out on the town, then it is probably good advice. Telling your spouse that you forgot to pay the phone bill on time, or you were given a negative evaluation at work, or that you disagree with his style of disciplining the children is quite likely to take the sheen off some of the romance.
Remember, the sweetness of romance can also be entirely swept away by a colicky baby, the intrusion of nosy in-laws, or the loss of a job. Since life will introduce its own romance-wreckers, isn’t it better to start practicing for the times when it’s not a story-book?
If you can keep your life full of sweetness and light, then you can probably count on the romance to get you through. But if, like the rest of us, you find crow’s feet creeping up on you, then perhaps you need to find something else to bolster your marriage. Something more solid than romance and flowers. Something that can withstand a few storms.
I knew a woman who woke up every morning at 5 am, so she could shower, apply makeup, and take a curling iron and mousse to her hair before putting her nightgown back on and climbing back into bed. Her reason? She wanted to protect her husband from the site of her true, beautiful self in the morning. She was married for five years before her husband saw her without her makeup on.
She thought that marriage was romance and flowers, and I am certain she doubted that her marriage could survive the light of day. Not knowing the couple very well, I couldn’t say for certain, but my guess is that her husband was not so weak as she thought. I know he didn’t keel over from a heart attack the morning he finally saw her “in the rough.” Most men can survive the sight of the woman they love at 5 am, even with morning breath and smudged mascara. In fact, I think most men find the sleepy, I-just-woke-up look to be quite sexy!
In an effort to protect her husband from her less-than-perfect self, she hid some truth from him. She sought romance, but not friendship.
Think about your best friend when you were in junior high school. You told her – or him – absolutely everything. You talked about your greatest dreams and your deepest fears. You told each other what you wanted in a spouse someday. You talked about all those things that really interested you and held your attention.
I believe marriage between best friends can only come about through that kind of openness and honesty. Marriage between lovers can be rife with secrets. Marriage between best friends holds no secrets.
My husband is my best friend. He wasn’t my best friend when we were first married. In fact, for the first few years I didn’t even like him much of the time. Oh, I was madly in love with him, yes. But I didn’t like him a lot of the time.
But we’ve been honest. As in any friendship, the honesty has brought us closer. We know one another very, very well. When he has a problem I know about it, and can help him solve it. When I have a problem, I know he is there, at my side, to help me overcome every obstacle in my way.
That’s not to say it’s always easy to be fully honest with one’s spouse – on the contrary, sometimes the road is rocky indeed. But what’s the point in intimacy that isn’t intimate? What’s the point in being loved – when the one who loves you doesn’t really know you?
I am luckier than my husband is – he is easier to tell things to than I am. If I do something I feel ashamed of, like snapping at a clerk at the grocery store, I can tell him about it, and he listens and acknowledges me without criticizing. If I notice the Fed Ex delivery man is rather good looking, my husband is actually interested in hearing about it, with no insecurity getting in the way.
He, on the other hand, has to face my insecurity at times. And there have been things he’s told me that were hard for me to hear. But in the long run, we both know it is much better for honesty to prevail, so he talks and I listen, and I try really hard to not get upset. When I do get upset, I express my thoughts and concerns and fears, and it eventually blows over. And we end up closer and closer all the time!
And, ultimately, the romance in our marriage has actually increased. Even after six children, there is not only a closer friendship between us, but the romance continues to re-blossom.
Where our marriage started off on shaky ground, it has withstood some major challenges, and become strong in the process.
We only tell one another what we would tell our best friend – which is absolutely everything.
It’s not the truth that destroys marriages – it’s what is left unsaid that destroys marriage!
If you feel your marriage hasn’t been as honest as it could be, then let me challenge you. Ask your spouse how much honesty he or she feels is necessary in a happy marriage. Give your own honest opinion. I think that’s a good place to start.
This article was written by Jane James.
Additional information can be found at the blog: Marriage Success and in the book: When the Thrill Is Gone. You may republish this article in your newsletter or at your web site or blog providing the entire article is kept intact, including the contact links.