Truth and Connection

When your partner is making changes that you don’t know how to handle, don’t fall into the lie of “It’s okay.  It doesn’t bother me.”  Quick dismissals push the other person away and leave her guessing what your true feelings are.  It’s better to express the truth:  “I’m feeling threatened” or “I’m confused.”  Being truthful maintains the connection.

Recognize that listening to your partner is not the same as surrendering to his opinion.  Giving in to your partner may get you through a rocky moment, but it is not necessarily what your partner wants.  Acknowledging his heartfelt feelings doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.  The challenge is to reveal without capitulating or rebelling. . . .

The need to assert differences brings many couples to the brink, but once a couple can discuss what’s underneath those differences — what fuels different aspects of themselves — they learn profound truths about their partner.  They discover the extent of the other person’s convictions, the strengths of their commitments, and the impact their own behavior has on them.  Not only is it then possible to get through the immediate challenge, but they are able to understand each other in a deeper, more intimate way, which leaves them poised for still greater depths of understanding.

— Ellyn Bader, PhD, and Peter T. Pearson, PhD, Tell Me No Lies:  How to Stop Lying to Your Partner — and Yourself — in the 4 Stages of Marriage, p. 123-124

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