Yes, even small secrets can tear happy relationships apart.
Have you ever noticed how, the longer you let time pass without telling your partner how you honestly feel, the larger the disconnect grows between you? Meanwhile, your partner may have no idea you’re quietly hiding hurt or annoyed feelings which are now morphing into resentment.
You keep promising yourself that you’re going to tell him, but then you don’t. The last conversation you two had was just like every one before it — he’s the only one talking; you’re not. Whether the topic is work, money, your partner’s wants and needs, you feel yourself shrinking on the inside as you swallow your true feelings and opinions.
Trust in a relationship is important, but when he’s talking, you can actually feel the discomfort and stress in your body. Your throat closes up and your mind freezes. You’re not yourself in those moments. Your real self is hiding.
But here’s the thing, sharing your true self (including your honest) opinion is essential to personal happiness and a healthy relationship. Marriage and family therapist Yvette Currie says, “Sharing the complete self can lead to an intimacy deeper than ever imagined.”
Why don’t you speak up and say what you really think? Are you afraid he’ll get mad? Are you concerned you might hurt his feelings, or worry he might reject you? You likely feel guilty for not telling him sooner. Even so, you stuff your feelings and suffer. The longer you wait the bigger the problem becomes.
You’ve built a mental prison in your mind and both you (and your partner, without realizing it) are trapped as a result. This is not a relationship! It’s dishonest deception.
In order for your relationship to support a healthy interactive exchange of ideas, hopes, fears, and future plans, there is one non-negotiable requirement: That you both (and that means you, too) demonstrate mutual emotional support of one another. It takes two to tango!
How can your intimate partner love you without knowing the real you? The answer is simple: he can’t. You must show up and be present in the relationship by getting in touch with your own feelings and then sharing them out loud with him.
Yes, you’ll likely disagree on topics and have different feelings about various situations. When that happens, you simply speak up (versus emotionally reacting) and say:
- “Really? I kind of saw that differently from you.”
- “Actually, I can hear what you’re saying, and I think…”
- “From my perspective, I feel that…”
Speak without judging him, while simultaneously, sharing your honest thoughts. You deserve to feel comfortable in your own skin, voicing your true inner thoughts, feelings, perceptions, opinions to this very special person in your life. Will he be shocked when you decide to start inserting yourself into this relationship? Absolutely.
Although, you might ultimately be surprised to find your man starts telling you how wonderful you are and that he’s missed the real you for a long time.
Researchers Hugh Follet, Ph.D. and George Graham, Ph.D. assert that even well-intentioned dishonesty corrodes relationship intimacy. And that, conversely, merely talking to your partner about your efforts to be more honest with him can increase intimacy in your relationship in important ways. For example, you can say, “This is really hard for me to tell you, but I love you and want to be honest with you about.”
A healthy relationship is built on trust. And trust is built on consistent honesty. When you create space for your honest thoughts and feelings and your partner’s honest thoughts and feelings, watch the love grow.
There is one important exception to this advice about trust in a relationship: If you live in real fear that if you speak up he’ll get mad at you (and become emotionally, physically, or psychologically abusive toward you), then he’s probably not the right partner for you.