“A man is only as good as his word,” my dad always told me. I’ve tried to live by that my whole life, including when I was dating and now that I’m married.
When Tonya and I first started dating, she listened to country and pop music, and I liked rock. I didn’t bash the music she loved, but I also didn’t pretend to like the music she did, because that would’ve been lying. I wasn’t going to pretend to be a huge Blake Shelton fan just because I hoped it would impress her.
When we were first married, she sometimes cooked food that I didn’t like. When she asked me if I liked it, I didn’t lie and pretend that I liked it in order to avoid hurting her feelings. I wasn’t cruel about it, and I would thank her for making dinner. But it didn’t feel right to tell her it was the best thing I’ve ever had if it wasn’t.
Early in my relationship with Tonya, I knew I didn’t want to make her think that I was somebody I wasn’t. And if I’m doing something she doesn’t like, I want to know that too. I didn’t want her to lie to me about something that I do or have done just to spare my feelings, because I want her to be happy.
If I had told her what I thought she wanted to hear about who I was and what I liked, I would have had to keep playing to that personality. Eventually I could have been forced to act like a person I’m not or admit that I wasn’t being honest with her. The same is true for her. I wanted her to share who she was, not what she thought I was looking for in a woman. It’s just easier in the long-run to be yourself.
This has continued in our relationship. Just earlier today, my wife asked me to take out the garbage. I figured I would get it later because she was leaving for work and I had plenty of time to get it. Well, it completely slipped my mind and when she returned home from work the trash was still there, and she asked me if I took out the trash to see what I would say. “No,” I said, “it slipped my mind.” Better to be honest than to let her be disappointed when she finds out that you didn’t. And trust me, she will always find out.
These examples might seem small. But I believe that being honest about those “small” things shows your loved one that you have no problem telling the truth.
I truly believe the key to a successful relationship is honesty. I like to think about honesty as a way of being emotionally “naked” with your loved one; it’s a way of showing who you really are, warts and all.
I’ve found that it’s easier to be hurt by the truth than to find out a person’s lying to you. This is why I don’t lie even about the small things, because when the truth comes out, the other person will likely think, If they lied to me about something this petty, what else have they lied to me about? Lying creates nothing but trust issues.
Being emotionally naked does not necessarily mean telling them your whole life story, or telling the other person all your life’s dirt, in the first week of knowing them. You have to be wise in how you reveal yourself to the other person. You have to know that you can trust that person. When you do feel that basic level of trust is there, you could open up with something small and see how the person receives it. If they seem accepting or okay with it, then open up about something a little bit bigger.
If you start practicing honesty in dating, it’ll be that much easier to be honest in marriage. If you’re in a relationship where you’ve already gone pretty far with a false personality, it’s never too late to turn back and sit your loved one down and tell them the truth. You never know, they may admire your honesty. Or if you’re in a new relationship, just be yourself and don’t pretend to be something you’re not. If the person accepts your openness and honesty with love and without judgment of your past, that’s one sign that it may be a good relationship. If a relationship is meant to be, love always prevails.