The husband says, “She means nothing to me,” but in truth this co-worker provides a strong temptation.
The husband says, “I’ll get to it next week,” but next week never arrives, and she feels the brunt of his procrastination.
The husband says, “I’m not lost; I know just where we are,” but she’s certain he’s bewildered.
The husband says, “I’m sorry; I won’t do that again,” but she’s seen the pattern and knows he just says that to silence her.
The husband says, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you,” so he doesn’t share details of his life. But she feels shut out and separated from his world.
Wives and husbands, have you experienced some form of lying? Some form of telling less than the full truth? Perhaps it took the form of misdirection; he shaded the truth just enough to point away from reality. Perhaps he told just part of the truth; enough truth to sound good, but mixed with enough untruth to protect him.
Wives, have you become frustrated with some of the lies your husband tells you? Do you wonder why he just doesn’t “tell it like it is”? Have you seen the intimacy you yearn for damaged by dishonesty and deception?
Husbands, do you wonder why you mislead your wife? Do you find it difficult to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”? Do you long for a safe environment that makes it easier to be honest? Have you become frustrated at your inability to tell the full truth to your wife?
Aim for Transparency
We can describe living in the full truth as appropriate transparency. Transparency means we’re an open book. We don’t speak direct lies; we don’t mislead even with truthful statements; we don’t hide things that we should disclose.
But transparency needs to be appropriate, so we need to examine its two major limits.
First, does the person have a right to know? Some information is validly private. In our marriages, we don’t particularly need to tell our spouses every detail of our lives before we met. I (Tim) found that mentioning I had dated a particular individual before our marriage didn’t always improve things! Information we have about other people often shouldn’t be disclosed without their permission.
Second, do we speak in love? Paul gave that injunction in Ephesians 4:15. If we don’t speak in love, we can tell the truth but damage others. If we don’t speak in love, we can tell the truth but serve our own interests at the cost of others.
We realize these two limits are loose. Exactly how we express them will vary, but we do need to ask ourselves the questions and then be certain we can answer yes to both before we proceed.
Transparency: Already a Reality with God
We’re amazed at how we sometimes think we can fool others! Even more, we think we can fool God. Hebrews 4:12-13 lets us know that to God, we are already fully transparent.
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
God knows our every thought, attitude, and act. Yet He still loves and accepts us. He may not always like what we do, but He does love us! We can be fully honest with God; we don’t have to hide anything since He already knows it. And, knowing that He’ll continue to love and accept us makes it easier to fully tell the truth to Him. Our honesty with Him won’t hurt us.
A Goal for Marriages
Marriages should be a safe place where we can grow into transparency without added guilt and insecurity. That’s important, because often when we share a failing, we face hostility and judgment. Since few of us like pain, we avoid sharing. We shade the truth. We lie. We deceive. This doesn’t justify what we do—we do it in self-defense—but it damages our intimacy with God, our character, and our marriage.
God has provided a third option beyond avoidance and deceit: grace. Confronting the untruth and loving the sinner even as we hate the sin. Go back to our Hebrews passage that revealed that God knows everything about us, yet still loves and accepts us.
That combination of God seeing us fully and still loving us provides a pattern for how we can increase transparency in our marriages. When we know our honesty won’t unduly hurt us, we can move closer to it. Realize that our honesty will often bring pain, but not as much as untruth.
That means we can help our mates be transparent. As we provide a safe harbor, we make it easier for them not to have to mislead us.
That doesn’t mean we ignore sin; that doesn’t mean we pretend we’re not hurt by it. But we continue to love our spouses like God loves us. We continue to accept them, like God accepts us. Rather than allowing the truth to become a dividing wall, we choose to work together as a team. We realize that truth sets us free and we can then work on issues that need attention.
We realize that speaking the full truth doesn’t eliminate consequences. If a husband confesses to multiple adulterous affairs, that confession doesn’t clear the slate. Damage has been done, and it must be addressed and restoration attempted. Even so, the wound may be too deep for reconciliation.
But as we love and accept the other, we build an environment that encourages full honesty. That full honesty will benefit our marriages in multiple ways.
Realize also that for many of us who have allowed too much untruth to slip into our lives, who have kept things from our spouses to protect them or ourselves, that this journey to full truth is a process. We don’t get instantly and totally transparent. We’ll knowingly not tell the full truth at times. We’ll discover areas that we may have not really understood as an issue of truth. Focus on the direction of the journey, toward truth, toward God. Don’t let the failings derail you, but make them less frequent!
But as we continue to walk with truth, we’ll become intoxicated with the freedom that truth brings. We’11 soar in joy at the intimacy with our spouse. We’ll stand in awe of the closeness we develop with God. And we’ll wonder why we waited so long to pursue transparency.
Adapted from Twelve Lies Husbands Tell Their Wives by Tim and Sheila Riter. © 2005 by Tim & Sheila Riter. Used by permission. All rights reserved.