Brutal honesty is overrated. And this statement is coming from someone who values honesty above all other character traits. I think your word is all you have, and once I can’t trust your word, I don’t have much to talk to you about. One of the things I appreciate most about my marriage is my ability to trust my husband.
So why am I knocking the idea of being brutally honest? Because I don’t think honesty needs to be brutal, especially in an intimate relationship like marriage. I think there is always a way to deliver honesty to your spouse with compassion and love. Shouldn’t we try to keep brutality out of the marriage equation?
This doesn’t mean your spouse will always like what you have to say. It also doesn’t mean that your spouse won’t end up hurting your feelings (or the other way around). But this should mean that regardless of how your spouse perceives your honesty, he or she believes it comes from a place of love, not malice. Your spouse should feel like you have his or her best interests at heart.
Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?
This is a tricky question. Although, I can’t support anyone who blatantly lies to a spouse, I have to say that some people just overshare. For example, does your spouse really need to know that you find your new neighbor attractive? I don’t think so. Unless you plan on acting on that attraction, what’s the point in sharing that?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t write my husband a memo every time I think a man is attractive. I just keep it moving. And frankly, I don’t need a memo from him either. It’s not necessary.
So although honesty is a virtue, I think oversharing is a little different than being honest. You should answer your spouse’s questions truthfully, but you should also refrain from giving him information that he doesn’t need when he hasn’t even ask for it.
Is it Always Possible to Avoid Being Brutal?
I think it usually is. I am candid by nature, and with age and wisdom, I have learned how to be honest with the people I love without delivering the sting that can come with real talk.
That said, even with a compassionate delivery, you can still hurt someone’s feelings. The truth hurts sometimes. You can still leave your spouse feeling upset about what you said, even if they are okay with how you said it.
There is great quote by Dr. Maya Angelou that says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” There is so much truth to this statement. Honesty shouldn’t be brutal because what your spouse will remember most about the conversation is how you made her feel.
Here’s how to keep tough news less hurtful: Don’t make your spouse feel stupid. Don’t say things to make her think you are wiser than she is. Don’t insist that she sees things your way because that’s the right way. Don’t judge her. Don’t belittle her. This is not what honesty is about. And if you feel like you can’t be honest without being brutal, step away from the conversation. It’s okay to take some time before you deliver your honest perspective with compassion and love.
How Can I Deliver My Honest Opinion With More Compassion?
We can all practice delivering our thoughts and opinions with more compassion if we focus on having more empathy. Empathy is your ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. When you are empathic, you take the time to consider how someone else is feeling, what matters to that person, and what he needs most in the current situation.
If you are able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, you are able to react with more compassion. Doing this gives you the ability to step away from your own feelings long enough to truly recognize what your spouse needs from you. By doing that, you can react to your spouse truthfully but compassionately. You are able to respond with the love they need from you most.
BMWK family, have you mastered being honest with your spouse without being brutal?