Should we truly be 100% honest in marriage?
I’ve written before that I don’t think absolute honesty is the best policy in marriage, and today, for Top 10 Tuesday, I thought I’d elaborate and share 10 things you SHOULDN’T say to your spouse! I even asked you all on Facebook for your opinions, and got some great answers that I’ll sprinkle through this post.
But first, I want to go back to first principles.
What is it that God wants for marriage? He wants us to have intimate marriages where we truly “know” each other; where we’re able to love each other and be a team and serve God together. We want to feel like one flesh.
That means that when we’re sharing, we need to ask, “Is this something that will build up intimacy and one-ness, or will it tear it down?” Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t share hard things, because sometimes hard things need to be shared to get to that next level of intimacy. But often it means that some things, I believe, should be dealt with on your own with God, or with a friend or accountability partner instead of your spouse.
So let’s take a look at what some of those things may be!
10 Things You Shouldn’t Share with Your Spouse10 Things You SHOULDN'T Share with Your Spouse--because brutal honesty is not the best policy.Click To Tweet
1. “I wouldn’t have married you” if I knew then what I know now
One woman recently wrote me about a close friend who shared just this. She says:
Sometimes I think people who are unhappy in their relationship use brutal honesty as a way to try to manipulate the relationship to be what they want, or to break the other person down so that they call it quits first. My friend married her husband because he is such a stable and steady man, but now she’s bored. She told him that she wants more sex, that she doesn’t find him intellectual enough, and that his few extra pounds really bother her. Then she complained to me that he seems depressed. What? Tearing her marriage to pieces with her own “honest” words.
We all go through periods where we’re bored or dissatisfied with life. And many of us use “honesty” to offload those feelings onto our spouse. Maybe if they get upset enough, they’ll leave and then we don’t have to feel guilty!
Another woman wrote:
Saying words just to hurt someone else and hiding behind the “well, it’s the truth”, isn’t the same as being honest! That is being a bully, verbally abusive!
Exactly! If you’re bored, then do something about it. The grass is not greener on the other side. Start hobbies together. Build your friendship. Focus on encouraging him and praising him, and you’ll notice the good he does. I have a ton more on this in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, because if you’re bored and dissatisfied, your marriage does NOT have to stay that way. So what will you DO about it, instead of making your spouse feel awful?
2. “I don’t love you right now”
Let’s be clear: love is an action, not just a feeling. You can act love even if you don’t feel it. If you are going through a period of distance with your spouse, when you don’t feel close, telling them that you don’t love them will increase that distance, not decrease it.
Yes, your marriage may be in crisis, and it may mean that you need to share something so you can try to rebuild, but that’s the time to say, “I’m feeling so unhappy and so distant from you, like there’s a big chasm. I don’t want that. I think we need to do something. Can we talk about it?” And try my emotional reconnection course, too!
3. “I’m not attracted to you anymore”
Now that’s a surefire way to wreck someone’s confidence! And once you share it, it can never be taken back. It’s one thing to talk to your spouse about being concerned about their health and wanting to help them get a handle on it; it’s quite another to say, “you don’t turn me on.”Don't EVER tell your spouse you aren't attracted to them anymore. That's mean, not helpful!Click To Tweet
4. “I think X is hot”
I know a few couples who are super confident and who share everything, and who even keep each other up to date on who they think is hot at church, so their spouse can hold them accountable.
So perhaps some marriages can get away with this.
But in general, it’s not a good idea to tell your spouse you think someone else is attractive.
Here’s a story one Facebook commenter left:
I had a newlywed friend years ago who called me in tears because her husband confided in her that he didn’t find her as attractive as her sister. He wasn’t lusting after her sister or spending extra time with her or talking to her secretly. They barely knew each other and didn’t even live close, and she was much too young for him. This was just him matter-of-factly telling his young bride that she wasn’t as pretty. It killed her self-confidence.
She goes on to explain that this young man just wanted to start marriage right by being 100% honest and preventing problems before they occurred. But in this case, it just caused more problems when an affair with the sister wasn’t even a real threat.
Besides, talking about lust or finding someone else attractive just feeds those feelings. Keep your eyes on your spouse. If you notice someone else, instead of mentioning it, why don’t you take that moment to kiss your spouse and fill your mind with all the things you love about your spouse?
5. “Let me tell you details of my past sexual experiences”
If you have sexual baggage, it’s crucial that your spouse knows, because it’s going to affect your life now. So they need to know in general terms: are we talking 1 partner or 50? Was sex coerced or was it consensual? Did you enjoy it in general or was it awful in general? Those things are good to know.
However, you should never share so much that your spouse could picture it, play by play. We may think that baring our whole pasts is a good thing, but too many details can really torture a spouse today. And if they ask to know details, that’s the time to stop sharing. It doesn’t do anyone any good and can feed jealousy. If your spouse just can’t get past it, perhaps that’s the time to see a counsellor–or at least read this post on overcoming jealousy.
6. “I enjoyed sex with X a lot!”
If you had a really good time sexually with someone else before you were married, your spouse now does not have to know that. Even if the sex was better or more exciting, your spouse does not have to be burdened with that information. What will that solve?
If you’re feeling unhappy with your sex life now, then do something about it, rather than reminding yourself how great it used to be. Try the 31 Days to Great Sex!
7. “Your penis is too small”
I once had a woman write to me in agony because her husband’s anatomy was on the small side. Because she had had sexual partners before marriage who were better endowed, she knew what she was missing. She didn’t want to tell him (thankfully!), but she also didn’t know what to do. Here’s a post that can help you achieve more sensation during intercourse even if he’s not well endowed. And there is NEVER a reason to let your husband think that his body isn’t good enough for you! That’s something many men can’t recover fully from.
8. “That idea would never work”
One Facebook commenter said,
if he likes to daydream out loud about living in the woods (or whatever) you don’t need to point out all the problems with it.
Yep! Let him have some fun. Now, if he’s considering emptying your bank account to invest in a ridiculous business venture, then it may be time to speak up. But sometimes people need to decompress.
9. “I already knew that ages ago!”
The same commenter left this other gem:
If he shares a spiritual truth or insight you don’t need to share that you’ve known it for years
Exactly! If he’s been doing some soul searching and he’s excited about something God’s showing him, be excited with him! In other words, the goal here is to see what God is doing in his life and getting on board with it, rather than making the conversation about you.Yes, we're to be honest with our spouse. But let's build up, not tear down.Click To Tweet
10. “I’m tempted by X”
Here’s what one Facebook commenter said:
Sometimes we are attacked. Sometimes we have things that are not grounded in truth that we think and feel and those just don’t need to be brought to light. Sometimes we need to take those to God and deal with those and keep our mouths shut.
I agree. I think there is a difference between a fleeting temptation and a genuine struggle. If you are struggling with something, that needs to be shared. Your husband needs to know what you’re going through, and needs to help you find accountability and help. But let’s face it: sometimes stray thoughts enter our brains and they’re not productive, they’re not edifying, and they don’t even really flow from our inmost heart. They’re not really reflective of who we are. Sharing those things is not always necessary. Instead, learning the private habit of “taking every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and training our brains to focus on good things is a far better practice to have!
So there you go! 10 things not to share with a spouse.
One woman summed it up really well this way:
I think with anything we have to ask ourselves this question: what will the fruit of it be? If what I’m wanting to say won’t produce good fruit, it’s not necessary to say. Sometimes we have to be honest and say something hard but it will still bear good fruit in the long run. Other times we use honesty as an excuse to say whatever we want regardless of others feelings. So always pray first and ask what the fruit would be.
That’s great advice!
So what do you think? Are there some things you shouldn’t share with your spouse? Have I missed something? What would #11 be to you? Let’s talk in the comments!