5 WAYS HONESTY IMPROVES MARRIAGE

5 Ways Honesty Improves Marriages

Trust is very important in relationships, AS IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT. Deceit can destroy trust, but full honesty can build trust. Early on in my life I attempted to do something that I knew my parents did not approve of. I was young, stupid, and didn’t fully realize what being a follower of Christ meant back then. Does that sound familiar to you? I also still had my sin nature, and STILL DO. I remember when I made the choice to follow through with my stupidity that I had a since of guilt almost immediately, but just pushed it aside. When I was confronted about it later, I also had an immediate since of fear and anxiety. I thought, “I have been found out! Oh No! What do I do now?” I realize now that I was probably afraid that I would get a more severe punishment than I wanted, or worse, my parents wouldn’t love me anymore. I didn’t want to lose what was important to me. SO I LIED! The minute I did that, IT GOT WORSE. I not only received a consequence for my behavior, but I received multiple “consequences” for my lying. I honestly wish I had learned my lesson that day. It would have saved me much heart ache throughout my life.

Although it has taken me a long time to learn and grow as a person to where the fear doesn’t always want to take hold of me. I still do have fear when I have done something I think my spouse would not approve of. We need to understand these 5 principles to better help us navigate times when the assumption that a lie is better than the truth comes about. To go along with my post on the 5 Ways Lying Destroys Marriages, I share with you these 5 ways that honesty can be beneficial and help you not have to endure the heart ache and pain of mistrust throughout your life.

  1. Honesty may cause pain, but honesty avoids long term damage, worse consequences, and drawn out pain. If I had known this when I was a child, I would have saved myself some grief. You see, when I told my mom that lie, I thought that I could get away with it, but instead, I endured grounding and some other things as well as hurting my mom and decreasing her trust in me (the other “consequences”). If I only had been honest, I probably would have just received a warning. I wish I had understood this when I married my wife. I don’t want to deceive anyone today either. I AM NOT PERFECT. I UNFORTUNATELY have told a few white lies in our relationship that resulted in very similar consequences: a cold shoulder for days, hurt and decrease in distrust, and the need to have an uncomfortable conversation about what I had done. I don’t like to face my shame, no one does. The guilt of lying was still there and the fear was still there. If I had been honest with my wife, she would’ve trusted me more that day than before. I would not have the guilt bearing on my soul. I would also have overcome my fear and seen that my assumptions were incorrect.
  2. Honesty builds trust. As stated above, when you are honest with your partner you build trust. You want to be trusted. How many times have you been upset or seen someone get upset when they say, “I don’t trust you” or “I don’t believe you”? Deception destroys trust. Lying makes your partner uncertain about what you will say or do the next time. I have heard many spouses ask in my office, “How am I supposed to trust them with anything?” However, when you are honest and you are consistently honest, others realize that you are trustworthy. It helps them see your true character and your true desire. If you are dishonest, people perceive your character to be one way and if you are honest, others perceive your character to be another way. You show your true colors as a person depending on which one you choose. More mature and trustworthy people, have little problem telling the truth, despite the consequences. This helps them to be trusted more and more.
  3. Honesty diminishes the need to withdraw or hide and focuses on truth and responsibility. When I am honest, I am facing my problems head on. At the point of being honest, hiding won’t help. It’s kind of like starting a journey. If I go 10 miles of a 20 mile trip, what’s the use of turning around and going back home. Finish the trip. I need to just go the whole way. Vulnerability is hard, but once you do it, the fear subsides. One of the main reasons we are dishonest is because of fear, but once we are honest with our spouses, we may fully realize that the fear was exaggerated in our own selves. We realize the consequences are not as bad as we thought. We also may see that there are benefits that far outweigh the consequences.
  4. Honesty allows for deeper connection and empowers couples to respond in a healthy way. Being able to trust our partner helps us feel connected. When we are honest, your partner sees it. They get that it may have been hard for you to tell the truth. They respect your willingness to be honest. Your honesty provides a since of security. We all tend to desire security in our lives. We want to be known by our significant other at the deepest levels. Dishonesty hides. Honesty exposes. How can we know each other at the deepest levels if we hide instead of expose the deepest parts of us.
  5. Honesty portrays selflessness. When we are honest we let the other person know that they matter to us. How is this? Honesty cares more about how the other person feels than what you retain by being dishonest. If I am dishonest, I am fearful of losing something or receiving a consequence. If I am honest, I desire to be fully known and to disclose my true self, despite the consequences. The Bible says the greatest commandment is to Love God and Love Your Neighbor. Honesty is love for your neighbor. It does not say love your self. Being honest is showing love to your spouse because you don’t desire to hurt them. You desire more to be connected with them than to get away with whatever it is you did.

Next time you start feeling the desire to be dishonest and the fear of consequences arise, fight the urge to tell lies. Be honest with your spouse. Don’t lose the trust they have in you. It is YOUR CHOICE. You choose to hurt them or build deep security with them. Honesty is important to the point that some have said that the problem with humans is their dishonesty with themselves. Your marriage can be great! Honesty is a part of building a deeply connected relationship.

To read the companion post to this article read: 5 Ways Lying Destroys Marriages

My latest series: Improve your Marriage While in Quarantine.

If you need help with being honest and genuine call me 706-955-0230.

If you would like help with your relationship or help with this issue. Please contact me or schedule a session through my online portal.

10 Ways to Improve Your Marriage While in Quarantine

Improve your marriage while in quarantine by sharing duties and giving time to reboot

Many of us who are home at this time find that our duties are actually increasing. Children being home from school and more people in the household creating messes means more clean up and monitoring of the homestead. If you are still working, especially from home, you might be pulling double duty. This increases the stress that spouses are facing compared to the usual life of going to work. Few breaks are available. At least, if I am at work I get away from the home environment for some amount of time. If I am working from home and the kids are there, it all runs together. I fortunately have a remote place I can work from, but I have taken the time to go home for lunch or in the middle of the day for an hour or so. By doing this, I believe I am giving my wife a break and breaking up my own day.

Sharing duties and giving time to reboot can help with this increased strain on the household and the marriage. Communication is the key here. If you are feeling stressed and need some help with certain duties or just time to yourself, it is important to verbalize your needs. I unfortunately do not have the ability to hear my wife’s thoughts, so I bet your spouse does not have that ability either.

There are some keys to verbalizing your needs though.

First, understand that your expectations to get what you need may not be met. By lowering your expectations, you may help to keep from creating conflict with your partner. So, how does verbalizing my needs help? The more information provided to your spouse, the more likely they will be able to meet your needs or help you get what you need. I am sure you have heard the phrase, “If it is not documented, it didn’t happen.” In this case, if it was not verbalized, then it is not a problem to be resolved.

The second thing to remember when verbalizing your needs is TIMING. Please make sure you don’t just verbalize your needs because you are emotional. Emotions are never a good clock to tell you when you should communicate about something. God gave us brains for a reason. If your partner is busy, stressed or upset at that time, maybe it is not the best TIME to express needs.

Third, figure out how to express your needs in the best way possible. Check out my thoughts about communication in relationships. Finding the right way to say something is important. Some tips are to watch your tone, check your volume and monitor your attitude. Men, soften your voice like you are speaking to your beloved grandmother. A booming, commanding voice is not necessarily “assertive.”  Women, a high pitch, screechy voice will not get your husband to hear you. Try getting close to him, gently placing your hand on his arm and speaking him name in a regular, loving tone (Directed at both genders).   Ask your partner how they would like you to speak to them. Then, ask them to help you practice. Practice makes perfect.

By communicating well, you are able to help your spouse to understand your needs. Now that you are able to do that, partners need to be selfless. As you learn what your spouse needs, offer to help them with those needs. That’s where sharing duties comes in. If your husband is working from home and now finds himself pulling double duty with the kids and work, but usually cleans the bathrooms and takes out the trash too, maybe as a wife you can pick up one of those tasks to lighten his load. If you are a husband who’s wife is home all day with the kids (2 months before they were supposed to be home all day), tell your wife to go take a bath when you get home and enjoy some alone time while you make dinner, wash the dishes and get the kids ready for bed (Giving your wife a reboot). It is understandable that stress had increased along with possibly your duties at home. A little teamwork, sharing duties, and serving each other will go a long ways. It’s definitely not time to dig your hills in. It’s not time to fight. It’s time to communicate your needs and work as a team. Serving one another is loving one another. You finally have a chance to do that. Don’t waste time being mad at each other. Good Luck!

Check out the original post to this series HERE.

Next Post In Series – Learn about grace and forgiveness

10 Ways to Improve Your Marriage While in Quarantine

Using Creativity to Improve Your Marriage While in Quarantine

I have been home all weekend and have been struggling with this way to improve my marriage. I am the expert on marriage and can’t even help myself sometimes. But creativity doesn’t necessarily come easily. I was thinking about how I was putting what I tell others to do into practice. I guess a fun thing we did do this weekend was to get our kids a blow up water slide. Yes, I know, it was kind of chilly. They LOVED it! I think playing on that was the most exhaustive thing they have done since being out of school. It wasn’t necessarily for me and my wife, but we did get some enjoyment out of watching the kids. I could list all the generic things we have done, but that wouldn’t help you with creativity or marriage.

I want to give you one inspiring thought though. Sometimes marriage is boring. I know that isn’t very exciting or arousing, but it’s true! Isn’t that amazing? I am actually glad that it can be boring. Because creativity usually gets sparked in times of rest and monotony. So, while the spouse and I were sitting around a lot this weekend, I seemed to have more ideas pop into my mind than usual. Although, without a little direction, they weren’t necessarily thoughts about improving my marriage. So, lets see how we can do this.

I think being intentional is important. Like I said, my thoughts weren’t directed at my marriage, but I did have a lot of new and creative ideas. What would have happened if I had directed them at my marriage? Well, hopefully I would have been more open and creative with improving my marriage.

Next, I think the traditional brainstorming technique would be helpful. Yes! That technique we all learned in English class. Basically, sit with a piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind about a certain topic. Then write down everything that comes to mind about each of those topics and so on and so forth. Let me try it real quick:

Basketball, Baseball, throwing the ball, hitting the ball, fun outside, fun inside….Okay, I will stop with that. That reminds me. My spouse and eye got a glove, a bat and a bunch of tennis balls a few days ago and I threw her some while she wacked them way to far. I got tired quickly for having to run 30 or 40 yards to retrieve all of them. I guess I need to work on that. Which leads me to another idea. How many of you exercise regularly? Why not exercise together?

You see, I just came up with 2 in no time through brainstorming. Other ways you can come up with ideas is to call up friends and family and ask them what they are doing. You can also check out things on the internet. I recently found out you can get an escape room in a box shipped to you.

Another way to increase creativity is to shut off your devices. TV, video games, scrolling Facebook all do the thinking for you. Shut them down. Read a book. Write a journal about what you are experience. Write letters. Read that Bible you have been wanting to read if only you had time off. Pray together.

Finally, I encourage you to do whatever you come up with, together! Think about what each other like. Your brains are powerful! It is made by the Creator of the Universe! Don’t lose it, use it! God has given us a unique opportunity to make changes to our life due to slowing everything down. It’s time to really work on the creative side to increase love and connection with each other. Marriage takes effort and creativity may take time. But it’s worth it! Let me know what creative ideas you come up with by emailing me. Maybe I will add them to this post.

If you are struggling with your marriage call me at 706-955-0230. If you want to read more posts go to my Blog.

Next Post In Series – Share duties and give each other time to reboot

Anxiety is normal: What you need to know

I used to work in a prison. I believe most people would say that working in a prison would be uncomfortable. I don’t think anyone would say that having anxiety while working in a prison would be abnormal. In fact, working 8 to 10 hours a day around people who have committed murders or aggressive acts and who continue to be aggressive due to their environment can cause an individual to be extremely anxious. However, what about someone who just has anxiety every day for reasons maybe they don’t understand? Is that normal? Is it normal to feel panic, which is a form of intense anxiety? What about just walking into a grocery store or attending school or work which is a daily or weekly occurrence? That doesn’t sound normal at all. So, why am I writing an article about anxiety being normal? Because, it is! Keep reading and I will explain to you why.

What is anxiety?

A scary term to some, but actually is only a feeling out of many other feelings that an individual feels everyday. A feeling is a sensation we get created by reactions in our brain. So anxiety is a sensation created by reactions in our brain that is determined by something that happened previously. Sound vague? Well, I like to say that anxiety is just a feeling that comes when something happens you don’t like or that reminds you of something you don’t like, such as a bad memory. So, anxiety, at it’s base, is really nothing more than a feeling. How scary is that? For some it is very scary, but lets examine anxiety more closely.

Everybody experiences anxiety.

At times an individual can feel alone in what they are experiencing. Almost like no one else can even imagine what I am going through. However, the truth is that everyone experiences anxiety at some point. Some people experience it more than others, but if you asked your best friend or parents or a stranger, they could all tell you a time when they feel anxious.

A message that can be helpful.

I tell my clients that anxiety is simply a message, just as feelings are simply messages. When I have a feeling, that is my brains way of telling me something or sending me a message. Messages are information, just like an email, letter or note. Messages tell us something about what’s going on. Anxiety is a message that tells you that whatever is going on around you or the environment or future doesn’t seem right or seems scary. So, anxiety is a message that tells us something isn’t right. Now, how scary is a message? Not very. Actually, a message can be very helpful. Think about it. What if you were never anxious about something and you just went with the flow? It sounds nice, but how many times would you do something that was not good? Anxiety serves as a warning. It tends to keep us safe, but can sometimes be wrong.

Unfortunately, anxiety can lie or be unhelpful.

Anxiety can be very good in small doses, but in large doses can keep an individual from doing important things. Remember, it is only a message, but when that message is so strong that it creates panic, fear and immobility, then anxiety becomes a problem. Although it is a message or warning, some messages can have large impacts on us. When you hear that a close family member passed away, hysterical crying and depression may be the reaction because of the massive impact. Anxiety can have a massive impact depending on the message being sent. The impact usually is intense fear, panic or even thoughts that you are dying. Some people who have strong anxiety messages tend to be unable to move or act in the moment. Sometimes these messages create irrational fears that drive our thoughts further into darkness.

Anxiety can also lie to you. Anxiety can tell you that everything is not alright when it really is. Have you ever had a moment where you thought “This is going to kill me,” but knew rationally that there is no feasible way it could? Anxiety tends to bring up strong messages that make us lie to ourselves instead of seeing the truth about the situation. This is because anxiety is normally the product of our past and/or the unknown, especially when the unknown has in the past caused bad outcomes.  We decide what is not good based on our past experiences, which may or may not be relevant anymore, hence, irrational thinking.

Anxiety is normal.

So, anxiety is normal, because everyone has it, you were created with it, and it is based on what you have experienced. It can be helpful or unhelpful, but it does not have to control you. Anxiety is only a message. It does not control your choices. You can control your choices, based off the message received. We are reactors, but God has made us thinkers too. Next time you find yourself in a situation where anxiety is sending you a strong message, tell it to hold on and let you decide what the best choice in this situation is.

What to do now?

You may be getting the impression by now that I am saying anxiety is not that big of a deal. That is not my message at all. My point is that anxiety does not have to control you. In fact, it does not control you unless you allow it. However, I also understand that some people don’t have the resources or the capability to manage anxiety on their own. An individual who has anxiety that creates extremely problematic conditions in their life may need to see help, support and training to build the skills that are needed to manage strong anxiety. If your anxiety is bothering you, call me so that I can help you determine if you would benefit from therapy.

If you want something simple to help you, check out this neat little Anxiety Do’s and Don’t’s guide.