With significant or surprising truths, the setting is important. Choose a time and place that’s comfortable and where you’re not going to be interrupted. We’ve heard men, in particular, suggest going for a walk or talking while working in their garage or woodshed.
STEP 5: DON’T BE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE
There are definitely ways to reveal truths that don’t make things eas¬ier. One woman hid the fact that she was pregnant from her husband because she knew he didn’t want another child. She finally enlightened him by leaving a voice mail message at work when she was away. This was playing hardball because she’d waited past the first trimester before giving him a chance to respond.
It’s also unwise to wait for a time and place to choose you. Some people are so passive about truth telling that their mates have to chase after them. For instance, we’ve seen people conceal the fact that they were heavily in debt until the local utility cut off the heat and electric¬ity. It’s also common for people to leave clues around and wait to be caught in an affair, or for women to stop using birth control and not tell their partner until they’re pregnant.
Tina would be passive aggressive if she started avoiding sex alto¬gether to force Tom into asking questions. This way Tina would be denying responsibility for her own indirectness, and it would cause Tom to feel angry and distant.
STEP 6: PLAN WHAT YOU WILL SAY OR DO
Nobody would go on a four-day hike through the jungle without plan¬ning ahead. Yet people invariably launch into an explosive conversation with no forethought and then wonder why it was a disaster.
A little preparation can avoid a lot of grief. You can say to yourself, “My partner will probably get defensive. When am I most likely to cave in? When am I most likely to counterattack?” Refrain from speaking in a moment of anger. Do enough preparation, either mentally or by writing it down, so that you aren’t impulsive.
Being candid takes courage and forethought. Next month we will review these steps and finish the process of strengthening your relationship with increased truthfulness. As always, we invite you to visit our website for more information and resources on improving your relationship.
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The Couples Institute