Hi this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Stupid Honesty
Any relationship, especially a marriage, must operate in honesty if it is to survive. Right? It seems as though that should be a rhetorical question…you know, the kind that is so blatantly obvious that an answer is unnecessary. Of course a relationship needs to be founded on honesty. So why do we spend so much time lying to our spouses?
Before you turn this podcast off because you think it doesn’t apply to you, let’s define a lie. There are two kinds of lies. Lies of commission, these are when you tell someone something that simply is not true. And lies of omission, these are when a person hand-picks what parts of the truth will be divulged, and in what way they will be offered up. A partial truth, that alters ones understanding of the whole truth, is intended to deceive. That which is intended to deceive is a lie.
When I talk with couples during their premarital counseling sessions, we talk about a concept I call, “Stupid Honesty.” I call it stupid honesty, not because honesty is stupid but because if you let your friends know you operate your marriage with this level of honesty…they will think you are stupid. I know of others, who have argued against this concept for their own marriages stating that it would not be healthy for them to divulge everything to their spouses. Sadly, they are mistaken and their marriages suffer as a result. Let me say that as a counselor I understand the need for holding confidences securely. I am not advising nor advocating ever breaking confidentiality of people where that expectation legally or reasonably exists. What I am saying is that outside of such boundaries there is no good reason for anything less than 100% honesty between a husband and a wife.
Ephesians 4:15 admonishes us to speak the truth in love that we might grow in Christ, the authority on how to love in all circumstances. Stupid honesty certainly is not intended to give us license to be ‘brutally honest,’ which in light of this scripture is actually a bit of an oxymoron. Brutal honesty is mean spirited and has no place in speaking the truth in love. While stupid honesty does mean we have to tell the whole truth, it doesn’t mean we should do it in a way that is hurtful.
Stupid honesty requires any question asked be answered in a clear, honest, loving way. When you think about it, the only motive for not being completely honest with someone is selfishness. We don’t want to look bad…so we spin the truth. We don’t want to get in trouble…so we spin the truth. We don’t want to deal with the reaction of the hearer…so we spin the truth. It never makes good sense when someone says, “I can’t tell them what they want to know, it will hurt them;” or, “I keep it from them for their own good; I am being kind to them by only telling them what they need to know.” Baloney! You aren’t doing it for them, you’re doing it for you. It’s not that they can’t handle the truth, it’s that you don’t want to help them handle the truth. Any time you do something, or withhold something, to make your life easier…that’s called selfishness.
Stupid Honesty likely has more to do with what you do (or don’t do) than it has to do with what you say (or don’t say). I often ask this question when teaching these concepts in my office: “Can you put a $10 bill in your right hand and squeeze it in your fist tight enough that your left hand won’t know what’s inside?” Obviously not. Your right and left hands are connected through a singular nervous system. If you were able to perform this feat, it would not indicate that you had some supernatural strength…it would indicate that there was some underlying though yet undiagnosed mental illness. The oneness of your marriage is much like the oneness of your body. If you are able to operate as if all is well while one part of you has fuller knowledge of the actual condition of the marriage than does the other, this is also a sign of an underlying undiagnosed relational illness.
Marriages that operate at a stupid honest level keep nothing from each other and therefore have no need for hiding places. One of the most prevalent and dangerous hiding spots is most often maintained in plain sight. That’s what makes it so effective. Electronic devices and specifically their ability to be connected to other people’s electronic devices through a little-known portal called social media can be problematic. I say ‘little known’ because most everyone I speak to about it says they don’t use social media…except maybe a little for work. One of three scenarios then must exist: #1 – I only speak with a very weird small contingent of society that truly doesn’t utilize social media. #2 – Social media is not near as large an industry as it claims to be. #3 – People are lying to me. I’m betting the latter of the three is the most likely. Let’s face it…most of the world is hooked on their social media. We can’t wait until we get home to scroll, scroll and then scroll some more…so we don’t, we do it on the clock. We are so dependent on knowing what our narcissistic ‘friends’ are up to in real time that we are willing to steal from our employers to find out. After all, isn’t it important to know what the important people of the world are tweeting or retweeting while it’s still relevant? What good is Instagram if it’s not instantly available to us?
The problem with these pseudo connections are numerous and troubling. I could go on almost ad nauseam about the inherent dangers of them on society, but I will limit it to the subject of this edition.
Most often, couples don’t treat their electronic devices and social media accounts as joint property. Our society has sold us on the idea that electronic devices are private property, and we have gone along. The danger it has created is the electronic hiding place. It is how the right hand can keep the left from knowing what it is doing.
In full disclosure, I am about to use a scare tactic. If a married person converses with another person of the opposite sex (married or unmarried) for 30 consecutive days without the knowledge of their spouse, statistics tell us those two people will meet for purposes of a sexual or emotional affair 80% of the time. Additionally, 1 in 7 divorces today are considered to be the result of online affairs. If these actual statistics don’t cause you to see the need for more marital transparency in your social media use, I have to ask…why not?
Here is what I believe ‘Stupid Honesty’ requires when it comes to social media. Spouses have the right and responsibility to know about their counterpart’s social media usage. It is not ‘being nosey’ to want to know who your spouse is conversing with, and to what extent on social media. I believe you should each know the password protection on all of your devices as well as usernames and passwords for all of the social media accounts and email accounts both of you use. Like I said, if the two of you choose to live with this level of transparency and honesty your friends will say you are stupid. Maybe, but you likely won’t end up single again. Can someone who wants to be secretive get around these kinds of safeguards…sure, but they are designed to keep honest people honest, not remedy a dishonest heart. That is a different problem.
There are many other practices of stupid honest marriages, but social media presents the biggest danger at this time and therefore has received the bulk of my attention here today.
Questions to Answer:
Is social media use prevalent in your marriage?
What else could you and your spouse do to build your marriage with even half of the time you spend on social media weekly?
What checks and balances are the two of you willing to put into practice to bring your social media use in line with the level of stupid honesty you want to maintain?
Actions to Take:
Decide what other areas of your lives could be improved with stupid honesty.
Commit to one another to cease telling lies of omission, but rather to speak the truth in love.
So now, learning what it means to operate your marriage at a stupid honest level…go be awesome!