too deep for a wednesday: radical honesty

Radical honesty. You know, never lying. About anything. Not even a little bit.

What's your reaction to that concept?

I first read about the idea of radical honesty in a marriage book. The therapist advocates radical honesty with his clients, and he says it has neve been a mistake. That's not to say it's always easy for his clients, but it never ended in divorce and always led to the couples feeling closer and that much more bonded.

To be honest, I scoffed. I had a hard time with the notion of being 100% honest, always, about everything, with Brian. Who does that? Nobody, right? You're rushing to get out the door, and your spouse asks if he/she looks ok. Yes, the answer is always yes...even if really the answer is maybe or even no. Pure honesty doesn't really matter, especially when it comes to trivial things.

And that's just the little stuff. What about the big things? What if you've been married for 25 years and have a great life, but there was that business trip you took 17 years ago that maybe wasn't all business. Is it really important that you tell your wife that you cheated on her, once, a billion years ago? Should you tell her, causing her to suffer for your regretted indescretion from long before? No. If it were me, I wouldn't want to know.

But then I thought some more. About my past, about marriage, about what my faith teaches, and about the kind of legacy I might want to leave. And I might have changed my mind about radical honesty.

I'm probably going to keep reflecting on this for a while, but I'd love to hear your thoughts today.

Update: Read part two here.


  1. Yes, I would like to know the "big stuff" even if it happened a bajillion years ago... because even if it happened forever ago and it SEEMS as if life is normal. It's not. Because one of you in the marriage is holding onto a BIG lie, which is ultimately affecting the relationship to some degree. I'd rather him be honest, get it out in the open, and then work through it.

  2. I so don't agree with this idea. I did in my 20's because it sounded so clean. What's cleaner is grace. And I think you are wise to not want to know every detail. If it's something that will undermine the fabric of a relationship because you are guilt ridden, then yes, confession is good for the soul- and the relationship. But there is a circle of privacy around each and every one of us that is to be our relationship with the Lord and the two of us alone. I watched this when your grandfather was dying and your grandmother gave him the dignity of facing it with the Lord, without her being there constantly through his last hours. At first I thought it harsh and uncaring. As I have grown older, I have come to and come to realize that sometimes it is more full of grace to be silent than it is to reveal. Scripture is full of "ears to hear" comments. Sometimes there are no ears to hear. Speaking to those ears before they are ready to hear can be the most brutal thing for everyone involved. Warren Wiersbe said this so long ago and I have learned the intense wisdom embedded in it. "Truth without love is cruelty and love without truth is hypocrisy." If there is a void of love embedded in "telling a truth"- love for yourself or for the other person, then it can be cruel. If you are avoiding the truth that needs to be told out of "love", then that is not love. I don't want to know my husband's every thought or even every struggle. I don't feel the need to share all of mine with him either. We are best friends, no doubt. We don't "keep secrets". Neither do we rely on each other as much as we rely on our own individual relationships with the Lord. I would much rather he work through whatever the thing is with the Lord first and THEN decide whether or not to voice his thoughts further. God is much better equipped to deal with anything, everything, than I am. This brings much peace in the midst of our relationship. It wasn't always this way but you do live and learn. Let's hope. Even Jesus didn't live this way. He often avoided a direct answer to a question when He saw that the other person was not in a position to understand the love in His response or the truth He was trying to convey. He's a pretty good role model.


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