A client in his late forties came to see me because he was having marital difficulties. On the surface it appeared that his wife is a demanding person who rarely appreciated him. His chief complaint was that she didn’t want to have consistent sex with him and that she wanted him to make more money. As we got to the heart of the matter over time, he began to share how truly unsafe he felt in their marriage. In his perception, reaching out to her and expressing himself invited criticism in return. He often felt punished and attacked. Instead of communicating, he gradually began to ignore her and avoid intimacy. Does this sound familiar?
Being a huge believer in open, honest, and straight forward communication, I asked him to gradually express more and more of his truth no matter what. In fact, I encouraged him to do so at work as well. From my perspective, work and personal are a continuum. Thus, when we learn to better express ourselves at home, it positively affects our relationships at work and vice versa. Though a part of him wanted to take my coaching, a part of him resisted. “I’m not ready to tell the truth,” he said at one point. He feared being attacked and making his situation worse. He also feared that his wife would cut him off sexually.
All of us are faced with opportunities to express our truth each and every day. Sometimes we do so, sometimes we don’t. Many of us worry about the consequences of being truly honest and decide it’s not worth the risk. But what are we really sacrificing by being more honest? In John’s case, the dishonesty in his marriage was leading to nowhere positive. So he got laid a little more, so what? The quality of their relationship was deteriorating. What was she not expressing? Gradually as he became more honest with his wife, she became more honest with him; surprise, surprise. Honesty invites honesty! Omissions invite more omissions. On her end, it came out that she wasn’t attracted to him anymore in large part because she experienced him as selfish.
Would you rather have the truth or continue in some kind of comprised situation? Again, the truth may sting initially but it will set us free. With more of the truth out, he can now deal with the real issues if he chooses.
Do you want the truth? If you do, you will get it. If you don’t, eventually you will find out anyway and months or years will have been wasted. I am suggesting that you approach life in a more courageous way – to be more open, honest, and authentic. It is the only decent way to live!