When the going gets tough, the tough get honest. Lying and evading is the easy way out; honesty takes effort. For one person, putting effort into the relationship means speaking up when feeling fragile. For another, it means listening to a partner rather than bulldozing. What is easy for one person may be a challenge for the other.
Usually those aspects of ourselves that we try to conceal — our personal demons — do shade how we come across. We like to believe that what we lock away won’t affect us. Actually, it’s like a radioactive leak: Most of the time it does.
For many people, the hardest thing to say to a spouse is “I’m angry at you.” They may feel it; they may communicate it obliquely, but they won’t admit to it. The anger strikes too close to taboo emotions. This may frustrate the other person because the anger is intuited but never confirmed….
When your partner doesn’t recoil from your darker feelings it kickstarts your own acceptance of yourself, and your own self-acceptance helps you to create a stronger bond.
By the Together as Two Stage, you can say to your partner, “It terrifies me to say this, but I have to tell you that I’m furious with you.” The other person breathes a sign of relief because your words are congruent with what you portray. Finally, the anger is out there! At that moment, you and your partner are on the way to a special kind of synergy, primed for the type of healing only couples can give each other.
Because marriage is so interdependent, the growth potential is enormous — not by pleading or demanding, nor sitting at a drawing board, but through the models of integrity you provide for each other. You can’t develop intimacy without involving and evolving yourself. . . . You don’t generate growth, intimacy, or maturity from being polite to each other for fifty years.
— Ellyn Bader, PhD, and Peter T. Pearson, PhD, Tell Me No Lies, p. 214-216