FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Why Love Is Honest

with Bob Lepine | November 17, 2020
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There's a big difference between telling the truth and telling the whole truth. FamilyLife Today co-host Bob Lepine explains why dishonest, and even partial truth, can plant seeds of distrust and put a marriage on shaky ground.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

There’s a big difference between telling the truth and telling the whole truth. Bob Lepine explains why dishonest, and even partial truth, can plant seeds of distrust and put a marriage on shaky ground.

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Why Love Is Honest

With Bob Lepine
November 17, 2020
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Bob: At the heart of every enduring marriage is a covenant/a commitment we make to one another—a commitment that is different than any other relationship we have on earth.

Woman: What’s different about marriage versus any other relationship—or anyone, who’s just moved in together, and they’re long-term committed—is that you can’t just pick up, and pack up, and leave when you want. All of those thoughts and the rushing emotions—I have to turn it over to the Lord and say, “You love him; and if you can love him, I can figure out a way to love him.”

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 17th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at Does transparency or honesty threaten the covenant or commitment in your marriage? Do you ever pull back from being fully honest because you’re afraid of how your spouse might respond? We’re going to talk about that more today. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. There’s a movie that, if I’m ever watching TV and just channel surfing, and I click—and that movie is on—I’m in.

Ann: Okay; what is it?

Bob:A Few Good Men.

Ann: Good Men.


Bob: Tom Cruise is going at it; Nicholson is on the witness stand; and he says, “Do you want answers?” Tom Cruise says, “I want the truth.” Nicholson utters that famous line, “You can’t handle the truth.”

Ann: —“handle the truth.”

Bob: Of course, that line’s become iconic in movies.

I’ve been thinking about marriage, and I wonder, “How many of our marriages can handle the truth? How many of us can handle the truth about one another in a way that is loving?” We’re talking about how to love one another better in marriage, which is the theme of a book I just wrote, called Love Like You Mean It that came out this year. We’ve now created a video series for couples to go through with other couples, the Love Like You Mean It video series.

One of the big ideas in that series is that love rejoices in the truth; love is honest. I think a lot of us, as couples, we think to ourselves, “If my spouse really knew the real me…”

Dave: Yet, if you are honest, and you are received, that’s true love. But that’s scary; because you’re thinking, “I’ll be rejected; so I’ll keep that hidden, and we’ll just maintain.” But that’s not going to get you the intimacy you’re longing for.

Bob: Right; I’m guessing you guys may have started your marriage, hiding parts of your past and your background.

Dave: Do you really want to go there, Bob? [Laughter]

Ann: I’m not sure that we did intentionally.

Bob: Really?

Ann: I don’t think that we understood the impact that our past would have in the present and in the future. But I don’t think I was intentionally holding things back.

Dave: I was.

Bob: Yes.

Dave: I was just thinking, “Number one, is it relevant?”—and that is a good question; you don’t need to share everything. But I just thought, “This is going to hurt her, and it’s better not to share.”

Bob: Yes; or “If she knows this about me, she won’t respect me”; and a husband wants to be respected—or a wife, who says, “If he knows this about me, how could he love me if he knew this was a part of my past?” or “…what I was thinking?”

This is why, in this series, we talk about how important it is for love to rejoice, first of all, in the truth of God’s Word; but then in the honesty between a husband and a wife. We want our listeners to hear a portion of this video series; we’ve been featuring it this week on FamilyLife Today. We think these principles from God’s Word can be transformative in a marriage. Here’s an excerpt from Episode Eight of Love Like You Mean It. It’s the episode that says, “Love Is Honest.”

[Love Like You Mean It Excerpt]

Bob: I remember, when I first realized that there’s a difference between telling the truth and telling the whole truth; and it has to do with a shopping trip I went on one time. On this particular trip, Mary Ann was not going; she had given me the list to follow. I had got to the store; I had my list, and I started working my way through. I came right to the produce section, and there were some grapes that were there. They were not on the list, but I knew grapes were always a hit at our household. I didn’t think we had any, so thought, “It’s not going to hurt if I get some grapes”; right? I got a bunch of grapes and added those into the cart.

I get to the chip aisle, and that’s where I saw this bag of Cheetos®. I looked at it; I looked at the list; I thought, “What am I going to do?” I knew that, if I were bringing Cheetos home, my health-conscious wife would—it’s like bringing contraband in; right?—I’ve just brought poison into our home. I wrestled for a few minutes; and then I thought, “I want Cheetos.”

I get home; I bring in the groceries. I’ve hidden the Cheetos in the garage; I bring the groceries in. Mary Ann says, “Did you find everything on the list?” I said, “There was one thing they didn’t have,”—I explained that. She said, “Did you buy anything else, other than what was on the list?” I remembered the grapes; I said, “I saw grapes, and I thought that would be a good idea.” She smiled and was happy to have grapes. I thought, “Great! I have now told the truth.” But I hadn’t told the whole truth, because I didn’t mention the Cheetos; right?

What I failed to calculate in this whole Cheetos caper was that this was a time when grocery stores had just begun printing out itemized lists of everything you bought. Mary Ann picks up the receipt as she’s putting away the groceries; and she goes, “What about the Cheetos?” There I was—busted—my fingers were not orange, but I’d been found out. I had to confess that: “Yes, I had, indeed, bought Cheetos.”

Now, that’s a pretty trivial story; you would think. But stop and think about this—in that moment, in my wife’s mind/in her thinking, she’s wondering, “What else is he not telling me about? If he’s trying to hide Cheetos, what’s he doing with the really serious stuff that he knows I would not be happy with?—that he knows would not be good for our marriage?” It was in that moment that I realized that, when the Bible says, “Love rejoices in the truth,” what it’s saying is that love rejoices in the truth/the whole truth—not just a half truth—in fact, a half truth is really not truth at all. Love is honest; it tells the truth.

I think there are four things that are wrapped up in this idea of love rejoicing in the truth. The first thing I think it means is that love flourishes in an environment, where we are able to be real with one another—warts and all/failures and all—and still can love and receive one another. The Bible uses an interesting phrase to talk about it; it talks about a husband and wife being naked and not ashamed. We can be who we are with one another and we know there’s not going to be condemnation or shame. We’re still going to love one another even when we see the flawed parts of one another. So when the Bible says love rejoices in the truth, it rejoices when that kind of transparency can be part of a marriage relationship.

Man: When we were dating, we were talking about our past. I quickly realized I had a lot more baggage than Bethany had. She had only been in one relationship; and I’d probably only been in one serious relationship, but a lot of other things. And there came a point in time, where I felt like, for us to grow closer and truly decide if we wanted to get married and we wanted each other, I needed to be completely honest and open my heart to her.

I did that and pretty much shared everything in my past that I had done wrong or I felt like I had made a mistake along the way. For her to not look at me any different and accept all those, it showed me, not just her love for me, but that she was relying on Christ to provide a sight of what love truly was and projecting that to me.

Wife: Nothing that he shared freaked me out. Even then, it was sort of preparing my heart for what love is. It’s leaning into those difficult things, or the things that aren’t very pretty, or the conversations that are hard. He shared everything; and if anything, it made me love him more because I thought, “He feels safe enough to be able talk to me about anything.” I feel like that’s carried over into marriage, where we talk to each other about things that you can’t talk to anybody else about. That was a glimpse into what that would look like. I feel like it just made me love him more as a person.

Man: And that made me grow closer to her/I think closer as a couple—just that we’re on the same page now, and there was nothing hiding in the closet.


Bob: There is power in transparency and honesty with one another. I think, when couples start to realize, “Okay; it’s safe to be honest,”—let’s be real; in some relationships, it’s not safe to be honest. We have to be able to be safe with one another; when we can get there, and be honest and be transparent, love goes deeper; doesn’t it?

Ann: It goes deeper, but it’s really hard.

Bob: Yes.

Ann: I think I really know all of Dave; but as I’ve heard that, it’s been really difficult—some of the things that he’s shared that’s going on inside—it’s been difficult to receive. Yet, there is a security in my heart, thinking, “I know everything about him, and I truly know him like no one else.”

It reminds me of Tim Keller’s quote—you guys remember this—from The Meaning of Marriage. He said, “To be loved but not known is comforting, but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.” I think that’s really true; there’s a security in that. It’s also miraculous—for Dave to know all of me, and to see all of my faults, and he still loves me—is humbling.

Dave: We’ve used the word several times: “safe.”

Bob: Yes.

Dave: I think, honestly, there’s not a lot of places in this world where we feel totally safe—I can [breathes deeply]/I can be fully me—hopefully, that’s in your marriage. When you are willing to speak the truth, hear the truth, and extend mercy, it’s the most beautiful place to be; and that’s how God wanted marriage to be.

Bob: I think one of the reasons that this idea of honesty in love comes later in the definition is because we’ve already talked about being patient, and kind, and not self-seeking. That’s what creates the safety to be able to be transparent. That’s why it’s so important for us to make sure we’re following the biblical pattern for love as we try to build what love, in a marriage, looks like so that we can be transparent. That’s why we go on to flesh out, in the Love Like You Mean It marriage series, that we have to address the fact that we can all tend to be posers, and to posture, and not be open and transparent with one another.

[Love Like You Mean It Excerpt]

Bob: All of us long to be loved; we long to be accepted. We long to have another person, who knows us/receive us, saying, “I know you; I know your flaws; I still love you. I still accept you; I still want to be one with you.”

If we’re honest, all of us have a tendency to put up a false front. The Bible has a word for people who put on a false front like that—it’s called a hypocrite, a person who wears a mask—and in marriage, we’re not supposed to wear masks. Marriage is supposed to be masks off, and we still love one another; so that’s love rejoicing in the truth.

Here’s the second thing I think the Bible is teaching when it says, “Love rejoices in the truth.” When it says: “Love rejoices in the truth,” it means that love can flourish best in an environment where there is trust. I had sown seeds of mistrust in my marriage by hiding Cheetos in the garage. When we keep, hidden, parts of our lives, that is not an environment that causes trust to flourish and to grow. For love to flourish and to grow, there needs to be an environment, where we can trust one another; we’re not always thinking, “What is this person hiding from me?”

Man: We’ve been married for seven years; and the first seven years of our marriage was really, really hard. A lot of that was rooted from some failures I had made. I had chosen to hire a girl that was kind of a young, cute girl that I didn’t want to tell Casey about; I was dishonest about it. She [Casey] walks into the apartment, and this young chick’s business cards had been delivered. She’s like, “Who the heck is Sally?” because our business cards had a picture of the person on the card.

Wife: When I picked up the business cards, and saw her face and his business name, I naturally wanted to just pack up and say, “I’m done; I’m just going to leave this situation.”

Man: Yes, I was caught. Even worse than that, I had deleted text messages to try and really hide the fact that we were even talking. I can honestly say, I had no intention of actually doing anything physical with her—it wasn’t a physical affair, or an emotional affair, or anything like that—I was just flirting with fire. But the act of trying to hide it created a lot of insecurity.

Wife: It didn’t go over well and caused a long-term trust issue. There’s been times in this, where I do want to throw my hands up/I’m saying, “I’m done; I don’t deserve this.”

Bob: Love and trust are partners; they walk hand in hand. When trust is gone, love is going with it. It’s hard to love someone who you don’t feel like you can trust. A marriage cannot thrive if we’re always wondering: “Is this person keeping something from me?” “Are they hiding the truth? They’ve lied to me before; how can I trust them today?” This is a key component to love.

Man: The hard reality is—I was not worthy of the trust that I was asking for. I remained dangerous. I’ve, since then, come to be able to confess, like: “Whether or not that was the intention, it was stupid.”

Wife: What’s different about marriage versus any other relationship—or anyone who’s just moved in together, and they’re long-term committed—is that you can’t just pick up, and pack up, and leave when you want. All of those thoughts, and the rushing emotions—I just have to turn it over to the Lord and say—“You love him; and if You can love him, I can figure out a way to love him.”

Man: I’ve had a mentor say something that was pretty challenging for me. He basically made it clear that: “I am prone to wander; and Lord, I feel it.” I am very capable of doing something super stupid. I think when you can humble yourself enough to say, “Yes; I am totally capable of destroying everything, and doing something stupid and impulsive; therefore, action needs to be taken.” It can help to have the confession of: “I’m not above this. I’m not above being stupid.”

Wife: You’re not above an affair—you’re not above lying.

Man: “I’m not above an affair,” “I’m not above being an alcoholic,”—I’m not above any of that.

I think, until you can recognize your own depravity, it’s hard to be humble enough to follow through on the action that needs to happen to create the security that the wife deserves.

Wife: As long as we both are in open communication—and he’s being honest and transparent about what’s going on—it’s not me saying, “I demand to know where you are and what you’re doing 24/7.” It’s just that we’ve worked really hard to put those walls up around our marriage—as long as he’s playing within those—and yes, I do trust him.

Bob: Here’s the third thing I think this verse is saying when it says: “Love rejoices in the truth.” It’s saying love rejoices when both of us, as husband and wife, are committed to aligning our lives with the truth of God’s Word. We love His truth; and because we love His truth, we love it together; we want our lives to be conformed to the truth of His Word. Rejoicing in the truth is when we are both pursuing the truth of God’s Word and knowing God in the process. Jesus is the truth. When we draw nearer to Jesus, we’re drawing nearer to one another; so love rejoices in the truth—that’s the third thing.

Here’s number four: love rejoices when we, not only agree with God’s Word, but when we’re both pursuing God’s truth as a pattern of life for us/when both of us are committed to righteousness. When you see your spouse reflecting the image of Jesus in his life or in her life, your love for them swells up; it increases. You’re drawn to that; because we’re children of God, we’re drawn to Him. As our lives are being conformed to the image of His Son, we love that; we love one another. “Love rejoices in the truth.” Do you rejoice in the truth?


Bob: We’ve been listening to an excerpt from the Love Like You Mean It video series.

Ann: Do you have to end every one in such a convicting way? [Laughter]

Bob: Just know this—before I stepped on anybody else’s toes, my toes got stepped on first; because I spent a long time in this passage, just meditating. I think it’s important for us to understand that, when we talk about honesty and transparency in a marriage relationship, love rejoicing in the truth begins with the fact that we, together, rejoice in the truth of God’s Word and the truth of who Jesus is.

It’s not just the truth about our own lives, but it’s the truth about the gospel that we both love and rejoice in. That gives us the freedom to rejoice in the honesty and transparency, where we can see each other’s failures and go, “Okay; I’ve got issues; you’ve got issues—we’ve all got issues—but the gospel means that there’s no condemnation in Christ for those issues for us.” We’re not going to condemn one another; we’re going to extend grace to one another—that’s the liberating truth of the gospel.

Ann: Do you think it’s possible to do that when a spouse is not reciprocating?

Bob: Here’s how I’d answer that: Romans 5 says that, “God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were still sinners—

Ann and Bob: [in unison] —“Christ died for us.”

Bob: God does not wait until we’re loveable or loving to love us. I think it’s possible for us to extend grace to somebody else, even if they’re not extending grace back. Is it easy?—no.

Dave: No; but in some ways, that is Christian marriage—that is “vertical marriage”; that is “love like you mean it”—that is the gospel applied to marriage. We don’t deserve forgiveness; yet when we bring the truth of who we really are to God, what do we get?—mercy.

When our spouse brings us to truth?—boy, oh boy; it’s the hardest thing in the world—but how could we be a recipient of mercy and not give it? When we give what we can’t even muster up in ourselves, that’s a picture of Love Like You Mean It marriage—and gospel, vertical/whatever you want to call it—that’s the most beautiful relationship that exists on planet earth, I think.

Bob: I know we had a lot of couples, last spring, who joined you online on Facebook® for the Vertical Marriage®small group that we did. We just had a lot of couples joining us, online, on Facebook for a Love Like You Mean It video small group session. We believe there is power in couples going through this content with other couples. I think the reason is because, if we just go through it together, we can kind of feel like, “I think we’re the only ones who struggle with this.” You go through this with other couples and go, “Okay; it’s not just us. Everybody has these challenges.”

Ann: And there’s a sense of accountability with a group too. And you’re right—to see that we’re not alone; we’re all doing this together; we’re all struggling; we’re all pursuing God—there’s real hope in that.

Bob: Yes; we hope you’re motivated. We hope you’re ready to call some other couples and say, “Let’s get together and go through the new Love Like You Mean It video series.” You can pre-order the series, online, at If you have any questions or if you’d like to pre-order by phone, the number is 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

I want to say, “Thank you,” again, to our Legacy Partners, those of you who contribute monthly to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. Today’s program/the resources we’re making available—you make all of that happen when you support the ongoing work of FamilyLife Today.

If you’re a long-time listener, and you’ve never made a donation, I want to challenge you: “Help pay it forward. Help others benefit from what you’ve been a beneficiary of. Invest in the work of FamilyLife Today.” If you’re a regular listener, and you’ve thought about becoming a monthly Legacy Partner, why not do that today as well? Go to for more information; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “I’m ready to join the team. I want to become a Legacy Partner.”

Then be sure and join us, again, tomorrow when we’re going to talk about one of the most challenging, most painful experiences any parent can go through—that’s when a son or a daughter becomes a prodigal. Craig Svensson joins us to talk about his experience with that. We hope you can tune in as well.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.


We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs? 

Copyright © 2020 FamilyLife. All rights reserved. 







I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.


We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs? 

Copyright © 2020 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.