As we continue our relationship series on healthy relationships, the next pillar to discuss is honesty. You may question why it’s necessary to talk about honesty. The concept of honesty is unequivocal, right? Someone’s either honest or dishonest.
We humans would like things to be black or white, either/or, yes or no. Life is not always that clear – sometimes black and white becomes gray and blurred. Consider the following story:
A man’s wife is critically ill. She is in imminent danger of dying. However, there is a drug that would save her life. Her husband has no money to pay for this life-saving medicine. He goes to the local pharmacy and pleads with the pharmacist to give him the medicine. The pharmacist refuses to give him the drug for free. When the pharmacist closes for the night, the man breaks in and takes the medicine. Who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong? Is there a clear-cut answer to this dilemma?
There are parallels between the concept of honesty and the moral question posed above.
The literal definition of honesty is an adherence to facts; a fairness and straightforwardness of conduct. The key words are facts and fairness.
It’s in the interpretation of the facts and the choice of how to apply honesty that can damage an intimate relationship. Sometimes people use honesty as a weapon to hurt someone they love.
The following thoughts highlight this issue:
- Love and hate are the most passionate feelings we can experience. Hate can evoke brutal honesty that can cause irreparable damage. Intense emotional pain can distort the facts and lead to incorrect assumptions.
- When people find out their spouse has had an affair, the knowledge can spiral them out of control. The shock and disbelief can give way to unbridled anger. Anger can propel both spouses to purge their pain on their spouse in the name of honesty and say things that can cause permanent damage and hurt.
- If people feel they are being unfairly attacked they may immediately get on the defensive and hurl damaging insults to deflect the insults being flung at them.
- No two people will ever see an event or situation exactly the same way. Everyone’s perceptions and sensory experiences are unique. When something emotionally loaded happens, our ability to filter out the facts becomes hindered.
Honesty is vital to a healthy relationship. As evidenced by the above statements honesty can be compromised due to pain, hurt and miscommunication. Compassion, kindness and respect are crucial to find a path to heal from relationship crises.
Honesty is a complex concept and we will be discussing it further in the next newsletter.