We all have an outer self of some sort.
This is the cleaner version of yourself you share with others, such as at a work holiday party where you are meeting people for the first time. Whether we admit it or not, there is usually some type of mask we have on when interacting with others—even those close to us. Our masks cover us up and keep our inner selves deep inside. Sometimes the mask is sarcasm, a wide smile, or good deeds.
Marriage is, and should be, a different story.
Marriage needs to be a place where you take off all of your masks. When you said your vows, you committed your whole self to your spouse. You committed your love in all circumstances (richer, poorer, sickness, health—you remember). You chose to share your inner self with your spouse. You cannot love a mask, and neither can your spouse. The only way to truly experience love is through vulnerability. Vulnerability is attained through honesty and transparency in the communication of your relationship. Honesty is a choice and an action that leads to experiencing love and loving others with your true self.
If we fail to be real and transparent in our marriage, the relationship will not be true.
Lies are culprits of painful marriages. We are spending our entire lives with this person. Outside circumstances have come, and will come, that threaten the marriage. Life happens. While outside forces are not in our control, choosing honesty so that we have open communication in our marriage is. How can we be a team if we are not on the same page? How can we strategize our next best move if all the cards aren’t on the table? In order to work together, we need to be real with one another. We need to remove our masks and choose to be honest. This way we can embrace each other, link arms, and face life as one.
We are not meant to handle life alone.
Recently, I quit my job and quite honestly have no idea where I am headed next. One morning, I woke up ready to do some serious brainstorming to begin formulating plans, attempting to strategize my next move. I feel a pull to pretend that I am perfectly fine in this transition. I am tempted to put a smile on and let everyone know how excited I am for new opportunities (masking my fears).
My efforts did not make it far before encountering an emotional breakdown. I told my husband I couldn’t do what I needed to do. I was crying out for help. I was feeling insecure, and all the lies were flooding in. Letting out the lies, I shared what I was feeling. The only way to get rid of shame is to speak it (and this is why transparency is so vital!). I spoke the shame I felt. I let go of any illusion that I had it together, dropping the mask of excitement and new opportunity. It was not pretty, but it was raw and real.
Honesty and transparency are tools for love and weapons against shame.
Your spouse cannot truly know you if you fail to be a transparent person. Arguably, you also might not know yourself. When we choose dishonesty, our spouse is actually robbed of the opportunity to love us. Honesty encourages growth and adds a depth to relationship that cannot be replicated. Transparency builds a strong foundation in marriage, creating trust. Honesty says “We are on the same team”. Transparency says “I want to know you more and I want you to know me more”.
My transparency gave my husband an opportunity to know me and to respond. It gave him the chance to be needed. He responded in love, no need for any mask since I let go of mine. Now we are able to be a team, facing this change together. I feel safer knowing I am not alone.
Transparency is pertinent to a healthy and long-lasting marriage (which is what we all want, right?). Vulnerability and honesty will create a new space for you and your spouse to be UNIFIED, standing together as one, ready to face whatever life may hold.
Written by Heather Christy
Heather Christy lives in Arizona with her husband Daniel. She is passionate about writing, reading, emotional growth and self-awareness. She enjoys coffee and honest conversation. She aspires to encourage marriages and love others through her writing.