How To Tell the Truth?

man looking concernedBefore you tell the truth, it is often wise to consider what you hope to accomplish by doing so.

Are you trying to hurt someone or make your relationship stronger (see should I tell)?

And it helps to keep in mind, that both telling the truth AND using deception are important in a close relationship. Whether we like to admit it or not, both are required to make a close relationship work (see pros and cons of lying)

But, if you ultimately decide to tell the truth, what is the best way to do it?

Telling the truth is difficult because it typically involves telling a spouse something that he or she does NOT want to hear.

What are some practical things you can do to make telling the truth easier?

Time and Setting

Do it in private and when your partner or spouse has time to cope with the information. For instance, pick a time when your spouse or partner can reach out to others for support. Do not disclose unpleasant information in the middle of the night or when your spouse is on their way to work. Put yourself in your spouse’s or partner’s shoes; if you had to, when would you want to be on the receiving end of unpleasant information?

Prepare Your Spouse or Partner

Right before you disclose the information, tell your spouse or partner that you have something which you need to talk about—that you need to disclose something which may be difficult to hear. And it helps to ask a spouse or partner to listen and react calmly to what you have to say.

Be Descriptive

When disclosing information, try to be descriptive rather than evaluative (see talk about problems). In other words, describe what you have done or what may have happened without blaming your spouse or partner. Take responsibility for your actions. The truth is difficult enough to hear without blaming a partner for the situation (even if he or she may be partially responsible).

Expect the Worst

Imagine the worst case scenario and prepare for it. Will your spouse or partner need time away from you? Or will they want to ask you a lot of questions? What do you think his or her response will be?

Resist the Urge to Defend Yourself or Fight Back

The truth can be very painful to hear. And when people are hurt or in pain they often lash out at or attack the person they believe to be responsible their feelings. Typically, the best way to deal with such a situation is to avoid fighting back. Rather, try listen to and acknowledge your partner’s feelings. And it helps to resist the urge offer explanations or excuses (even if they are asked for). Generally speaking, when people are hurt or in pain they need to feel understood before they are willing to entertain excuses or explanations for what may have happened (see create understanding).

Finally, it may help to read the section on rebuilding trust before you disclose the truth to a romantic partner.

Related Information:

Truth About Deception – back to our home page.