4 Ways To Save Your Relationship With Honesty


Those “little” white lies are actually a really BIG deal!

Ellen considers herself to be an honest person. She always tries to do the right thing and to live in a way that would make her mother proud. She carries this conviction to interactions with her husband too. Although she knows many of her co-workers flirt and even cheat in their relationships, she's sure she'd NEVER cause such damage to her relationship.

What she doesn't realize is that she IS damaging her relationship ... and the damage is so frequent, it's propelling she and her husband toward divorce!

Ellen has a habit of telling little white lies. She lies with the best of intentions and with her husband's well-being in mind. Over the years, Ellen has learned that it's just easier to agree with him-- especially when it's a topic that he cares a lot about. Her husband is a sensitive guy and he'll mope and retreat into himself when he feels criticized or if he can't convince others (Ellen, in particular) to see things from his perspective.

Instead of finding new ways to express her viewpoint and her truth, Ellen has opted for what she thinks will guarantee peace and harmony in her relationship. Unfortunately, this isn't working out the way she intended. Her husband has a knack for uncovering what Ellen really thinks and how she really feels and this is confusing and unsettling to him. Recently, in frustration he said, "I don't even know you, do I?"

Despite her efforts to set aside her own needs for authenticity to preserve her marriage, Ellen and her husband are more disconnected than they've ever been. Trust between them is at an all-time low.

Ellen's marriage seems to be headed for divorce by a thousand cuts.

This is how a good relationship comes to an end for too many couples. It's not one nasty argument or one decision that one person makes that breaks the bond the two share, it's the cumulative effect of a series of unhealthy decisions. Usually, it's BOTH people that make those "little" unhealthy decisions that ruin the relationship.

The "thousand cuts" that can end a love relationship or marriage can come in the form of unkind jokes, sarcastic put-downs, nagging, jealous questions, "harmless" flirting or other actions that undermine connection.

Those "thousand cuts" can also be the result of an entrenched habit of dishonesty. As with Ellen, the dishonesty may consist of white lies, omissions, and carefully evaded topics. There may be good reason for it, but it's just as damaging.

If you have a tendency to tell white lies, it may be that you were taught that this is just the way things are in a relationship. Maybe, as a child, you heard your parents lie to one another about how much they spent at the store, the conversation they had with an ex, the way they really feel about the main course at dinner.

You observed and learned that this is how people act in intimate relationships ... this is how to keep the peace.

But at what cost?

The thing about dishonesty is-- even those "little" white lies that are told to protect  feelings or to avoid a fight — it usually leaks out. Somehow and at some time, it usually comes to the surface which can be uncomfortable, unsettling and maybe even disturbing for everyone involved.

The BIG question that comes with even "little" white lies that are revealed and become known is: "What else is my partner lying about?" or "Can I trust anything my partner says?"

Questions like these signal weak trust. And, as you probably already know, weak trust is a threat to any relationship. Without trust, you cannot have the kind of happy, healthy and long-lasting love you want.

No matter how many times you watched other people tell white lies and no matter how many white lies you yourself have told, it's time to recognize the destruction you're causing and learn a new way to communicate.

This is not just for the sake of your relationship...it's for you too!

4 Steps to Break a Dishonesty Habit:

1. Uncover your urge to lie.

After acknowledging that you tell white lies (or big whoppers), take some time to understand why you have a dishonesty habit. Without passing the blame to others, uncover the early lessons you had in your life or past relationship experiences that may have taught you that telling the truth is somehow unsafe or unwise.

2. Question lie-supporting beliefs.

Notice the thoughts you have about both lying and speaking honestly. These thoughts and beliefs are linked to those past experiences you've had and healing may need to happen as you make changes. When you recognize a belief like, "It's easier when I lie" or "My partner will leave (or hurt me) if I tell the truth," look at your current situation and ask yourself if that is true.

*If you DO fear for your safety and are being abused by your current partner, please get yourself to a place where you can be safe and then decide if this is a healthy relationship for you to remain in.

3. Set the stage for more honesty.

One way to bring more honesty to your relationship is to address the reasons why you tend to lie. If your partner has a temper or gets jealous easily, sit down with him or her and create some communication agreements together that you both can feel good about and follow.

4. Remember why honesty really IS the best policy.

Continue to affirm to yourself the reasons why you're doing this. If you're accustomed to telling white lies, you may have to repeat these reasons again and again until you really believe them.

Look for signs of improvement in your relationship as you start to build more trust. This may be a challenging process as you shake up the status quo, so be patient and keep looking for indications that you do feel better and you and your partner are moving closer to one another.

As you find new ways to tell your truth and re-build trust with the one you love, pay particular attention to the words you choose. Specific words and phrases can turn your partner off and put him or her on the defensive and other words and phrases can encourage openness and connection (even when it's uncomfortable). Find out how to say what you need to say by watching our free communication video.