Truth is a rare commodity in our world. Each of us is tempted daily to shade the truth, lie or stay silent. But is sacrificing the truth worth it in marriage? And what does it mean for those of us who say we follow Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life?
So stop telling lies.
Let us tell our neighbors the truth,
for we are all parts of the same body.
Many couples we’ve worked with have a feeling that truth, in marriage, is more a negative thing than a positive thing. They don’t say it in those words, but indicate it in these statements.
- If I tell my spouse the truth about my feelings it will just make things worse. It’s better to just shut down or shut up.
- This issue is from a long time ago and it doesn’t matter now. Sure I think about it but I can’t take the risk.
- There are some topics we just don’t discuss because we know they are unsolvable. We gave up on this.
Each of these statements identifies a need for greater transparency and truth in the relationship. But yet, these couples are convinced that more truth-telling is not worth it in their situation.
It’s a sad commentary that we want to be led by the Holy Spirit, who is the “spirit of truth”. But then feel that truth is more of an ideal than God’s plan for us.
That’s why I want to encourage you to build more truth in your marriage relationship and allow the Holy Spirit to bring light to the dark areas in your marriage. I certainly want to do this in my marriage. So let’s see if we can grow in truth because it is God’s desire for us to walk in truth.
Will being more truthful in my marriage be easy? Will it be comfortable? No.
But neither was going to the Cross for Jesus. So why did He do it? First it was God’s will for Him. But second, it was because He saw the joy on the other side. The struggle was worth it. The pain was worth it. Because He saw joy coming from it. And that joy was knowing that He would have intimacy with YOU throughout eternity.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2b
That longer-term view is something we often miss. We want to avoid embracing challenges today not realizing that they offer great joy in the future.
But we can find joy. But only if we humbly and consistently increase the amount of truth in our marriage relationship, even when we find it a struggle.
We know that decisions in life have costs. Steal something and we pay the cost in a damaged conscience, guilt or punishment. And so there are hidden costs of avoiding truth in marriage. And while the costs are challenging to quantify they still exist.
If we avoid being truthful with each other, in marriage, what benefits are we missing in life? What blessings from God? What maturity will we never see in each other? How will Satan regularly attack these areas and torment us? What negative impact will it have on our friends, our children and our testimony? How are we offending God by our doubt in His power? How will it lead to other marriage issues such as growing distrust, bitterness, isolation, resentment or unbelief?
Many of us grew up in families that did not respect truth in relationships. They shoved things “under the rug” and avoided needed conversations. They told bald-faced lies and white lies. And so we grew up without a “model” for how wonderful truth can be for improving a relationship with trust and transparency. We’ve never experienced the joy of deep intimacy and it seems less important than it should.
Both Lou Ann and I learned to hide the truth and thought it was normal. We saw it with family where avoiding the truth gave the appearance of peace. Fake peace.
And we need to avoid ways we manipulate truth in our relationship. Hiding, Avoiding, Devaluing, and Weaponizing. The first three are defensive and the fourth is just plain aggressive.
Some couples are hiding the truth because there are hidden rooms in their life. These rooms contain secrets, sins, mistakes and embarrassments from the past. We all have them. And we fear that any exposure will embarrass us, make us look bad or cause our spouse to reject or distrust us.
Other couples work hard avoiding the truth. We have lots of excuses about why this is the “smart” approach to developing intimacy. It’s divisive. It won’t help. It doesn’t matter anymore, my spouse doesn’t care, it’s just digging up old stuff, we’ve already tried to work through this.
Some couples are experts at devaluing the truth. They believe that white lies, staying silent or regular lying is the secret to a happy family. They might say that it “keeps the peace”, or is “no big deal”. If they are really deceived, they might say “It doesn’t hurt anyone” or “I do this so I won’t hurt them”.
Sadly, truth can also be used as a weapon to harm others. If our motive is mostly to expose, embarrass, destroy or punish someone by using the truth, then we are acting like our enemy, the Devil. Truth is not a weapon to harm but a way of life that deepens our relationships. We are told to express the truth, “in love”. That means the truth must be used to bring the highest good to the other person.
Questions to Discuss with Each Other this Week
- How did my family avoid truth in relationships? What lies were ok?
- When do we usually avoid the truth in our conversations?
- What do we fear most about speaking the truth in love?
- How can we create a more accepting environment of truth in our relationship?