“…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
How many times have we been to a wedding and heard those words volleyed between doe-eyed lovers about to take the plunge into the uncharted waters of marital bliss? They’re really lovely sentiments. One person is pledging to another his or her support in good times and in bad—forever.
But there might be a few additions that need to be made in those vows to reflect a more realistic marriage relationship.
“…you are about to find out that I snore, cough, or fart in bed, and you need to promise not to kick me to the curb upon learning which one..”
“…I have a tendency to become absorbed in my own little world, and it may appear that I’m ignoring you, but I’ll do my best to pretend that I’m not…”
“…when we have kids, I’m probably not going pay much attention to you until they are out of the house. I just want to make sure that’s clear before we embark on this journey…”
“…at some point, I’m going to do something really foolish, and chances are, I’m going to try to cover it up…”
Be honest, now. For those of you who have been married more than a few minutes, you probably can identify with that last one. It doesn’t have to be something sinister or nefarious, but chances are you’ve failed to mention something to your spouse about something really ridiculous that you did. Obviously, your intentions weren’t to conceal some vital piece of information, but rather, to avoid a potential embarrassing conversation about your apparent ineptitude.
Understandable. I’m not advocating any type of dishonesty in marriage, but these types of foibles crop up from time to time, and it is a natural human condition to attempt to portray yourself in the most positive possible light.
“…I might even really foul things up, and there’s a chance that—in my frantic scramble to make things better—I might hide big things from you…”
Yeah, and then there’s that.
Hardly innocuous, hiding potentially harmful things from your spouse in an effort to “protect them” from certain stressors can be potentially fatal to trust within a marriage.
When things like that happen, perhaps “honesty” just isn’t quite enough. I was told by a very wise person that there is a difference between “honesty” and “disclosure.” In other words, one can be honest without disclosing every detail about a particular situation. In cases where trust has been broken, disclosure becomes an important stepping stone in ultimately re-establishing faith and trust.
What do I mean?
Here is a quick “situational case study.”
Joe and Jane have been married for ten years. One day at the office, Joe finds himself face-to-face with the office flirt (we’ll call her “Mathilda“), and she makes a pass at him. He responds to the advance by firmly–yet politely—declaring that he’s happily married and not interested in anything that would sully his relationship with his wife. Since the net result of the interaction was “no harm done,” Joe might simply mention at dinner with Jane that someone flirted with him and that he turned her down. However, a full disclosure might include details on who approached him (Mathilda), how she flirted with him, what words she used to proposition him, and how it made him feel.
Whoa! Uncomfortable, right? Absolutely! But if there is any broken trust in the relationship between Joe and Jane, this full disclosure—however painful it may be for Jane to hear—will go a long way towards making a huge deposit in Joe’s “trust account.”
Want another case study? A few weeks ago, I released a short novel titled The Perdition of Zephyr Hopkins, which follows the downward spiral of a man with too much pride to admit desperate financial circumstances to his family. It’s quite possibly one of those “worst case scenarios,” but it’s something of a fable of a life in a tailspin, plummeting towards the earth at break-neck speed, the result of a web of deceit so tenuous that it threatens to unravel at any moment.
If you ever needed something to inspire you to always tell the truth to your husband or wife, I dare say The Perdition of Zephyr Hopkins might just be it. It will simultaneously make you sick to your stomach and blind with fury, but hopefully, at the end of the day, it will make you hug your spouse a little tighter and thankful that your life isn’t nearly as desperate as Zephyr’s.
And perhaps, it might even motivate some heartfelt disclosure that just might add another brick to the “tower of trust” within your marriage.
JESSE S. GREEVER is the CEO of eLectio Publishing, a Christian publishing company. He is also the author of various works of short fiction and full-length non-fiction books on the value of sacrificial, Godly generosity. He lives in Little Elm, TX with his wife and two daughters.
You can connect with him on his website, www.jessegreever.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. His most recent release, The Perdition of Zephyr Hopkins, can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.