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#151: Radical Honesty

Jacqueline Hellyer - Thursday, January 28, 2016

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels
I'm always amazed at what happens when a couple is radically honesty with each other.

Let me share a couple of recent examples:

In one case, a young man told his wife that he didn’t find her sexually attractive and never really had. He had naturally felt he couldn’t tell her that for fear of insulting and upsetting her, but he was really finding it hard to have sex with her because of this feeling.

With my encouragement, he told her how he truly felt, which was, as expected, insulting and upsetting for her. However because they were able to have this conversation from a gentle, open, sharing place, he could give her the space to sit with the information. There was no intensity of emotion on his part, no aggression, no judgment or condescension or fear, and this enabled her to sit with the news, process it calmly and accept it.

On his part, releasing this huge burden, this terrible secret he’d been keeping, freed him up enormously.

The outcome: he actually opened up to the possibility, and then the reality, that he did find his wife sexually attractive.

She found freedom in understanding what was behind their sexual problem, realized that now that she had the knowledge she could make a choice of her own volition.

Now their hearts are open to each other, he’s not shutting himself off from her due to his secret, and she’s not resentful and confused because of his withdrawal. And guess what? Their sex life is improving.

In another case, a man in his mid-40s came to me after his wife told him she had never found him sexually attractive and had only married him because he was what she considered “good husband material” (which apparently didn’t include sexuality). Of course it was hard for him to hear this, but because it was presented with gentleness and love, he was able to take this news and decide what to do with it. In this case he realized that he had been living quite unconsciously and has set out on a remarkable journey of self-discovery and growth.

What was required in both cases of sharing the information, was a level of unattachment to the outcome. Such honesty always brings with it the possibility of a strong negative reaction from the partner. But if it is done with an open heart, with space for the other to take the news and work it, then a positive outcome is inevitable. The outcome might not be quite what you had hoped or expected, but there is inevitably growth.

I’ve had the same experience in my own relationship, where my partner and I both realized we had been ‘putting up with’ several issues and holding back from speaking for fear of upsetting the other. Yes, we ‘experts’ have the same struggles as everyone, with the result that our relationship was becoming increasingly strained. Over a few radically honest conversations, we were able to craft a new type of relationship. How radical honesty pans out in the long run, who knows? But it will be better than before and after our sharing my heart was more open to him than ever.

Whether it’s an issue as big as not finding your partner sexually attractive, or something smaller, such as finding your partner too noisy or too quiet in bed (other recent examples from my practice), if you hold back the truth, you’re holding back energy from your partner, which leads to resentment and confusion and misunderstandings on both parts.

Honesty, radical honesty, is the best policy.

Honesty shared with love, with calm and with no judgment or expectation, magic happens.


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