‘Truth comes from the mouths of babes.’ Isn’t that old cliché so true? Kids can say the most unadulterated, brutal truth with such ease! And when they say it, we don’t take offense to it because we know that it comes from a completely innocent place. There is no ill will behind it! It may not feel good to hear (i.e., ‘you have bad breath’ or ‘Grandma, your knees are hanging down’), but we know that it is just what they see and nothing more.
In a relationship, truths are going to come out. In fact, if we truly care about someone, the truth needs to come out about what we see and how we experience them. If we withhold the truth, we are basically sending them out into the cold, harsh world to figure it out for themselves – the hard way. That is not loving someone! Yet when we tell our loved one the truth (‘you have bad breath’, ‘you interrupt a lot’, ‘you come across like a know-it-all’, ‘you’re very confrontational’, ‘you’re self-centered’, ‘that was a pretty dumb thing to do’, etc.) it’s going to hurt. So how do we tell the ones we love the truth with the least amount of pain?
Truth is best heard when there is no ill will behind it. That means we need to offer it wrapped up in a lot of grace. Grace adds the message, ‘I know you are a good person and you honestly can’t see the truth.’ Further is says, ‘I know this is going to hurt and I’m sorry, but I care about you and you need to hear it.’ This way you gently help them to see the truth so that they can be the best person they can be. For them, not for you!
Truth delivered without grace is attacking! Offer up the truth with grace by observing the following:
Don’t wait – If you have been withholding the truth for years, it will likely spew out with venom and an angry bite – and at an inappropriate time!
Without anger – We often voice our truths out of our own pain, but how often has your loved one heard the truth when it is delivered out of anger?
Without judgment – We are all just trying to get along in life and we all come from different backgrounds and experiences. Love your partner by knowing that they are a good person even though they might have hurt you.
Not for you, but for them – When we are speaking the truth for THEM and not for ourselves, that’s when we know our intentions are in the right place.
Be firm – Don’t withdraw your truth at the first sign of conflict. Lovingly offer truth and grace even in the face of their resistance.
Be gentle – No one likes to hear that there is something unpleasant about them. Be kind, gentle, and loving in your voice and body language.
Allow time – Give your partner a chance to digest what you’ve told them. If you keep lovingly coming back to it, they may hear you.