In the cannon of relationship communication theory, John Gottman is widely considered the expert on why marriages succeed or fail. His research into the predictors of relationship and marital success and failure provides great help when pondering the impact of honesty within a couple's communication.
Though the conventional wisdom favors honesty above all else, Gottman notes that cruelty and contempt often masquerade as honesty and are reliable predictors about the end of a relationship.
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So "honesty" in and of itself is not a sufficient goal for improving relationship communication. Especially when used as a battle-axe ("You are fat and stupid.") versus a lightening rod for greater information ("I'd like to explain how this makes me feel."), honesty can wipe out love, affection and trust incredibly quickly.
Nothing encourages brutal honesty like marriage or a long-term relationship.
After years of marriage, your spouse knows your weaknesses and sensitivities better than anyone. This intimate knowledge of habits, fears and foibles is sufficient cause to err on the side of silence when frustrated, but sometimes that is just not humanly possible. Sometimes honesty is the only way to clear the air, grow as a couple, and avoid subterranean resentment.
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Here are seven ways to build kinder, gentler honesty into your marriage:
Agree that honesty is a priority. If you cannot agree that you should make an effort to tell the truth to one another, perhaps you have bigger fish to fry than simple honesty. Deciding that you want to have open but kind communication is an incredibly important step in establishing honesty ground rules. Example: I'd like for us to both feel more comfortable talking about things that are important to us.