Last week, during a radio interview with Stu Taylor, he asked me what I felt were the keys to a successful relationship. As I mentioned to him, it would be very easy to rattle off some of the verbs that I said in my wedding vows (i.e.: love, honour, cherish, etc.), but I actually carry a secret weapon in my arsenal in order to protect my relationship with my husband. It is what I call my “Three H’s”—Honesty, Humor, and Humility. They aren’t three things that I have really mentioned to people before, but they are something that I do mental checks on during the day-to-day of my marriage.
For those who know me, or have read my book, know that I was twice divorced before meeting my forever-husband. Although I am not a relationship expert by any means, I have learned a thing or two from reading mountains of books over the past two decades. I have also kept exhaustive mental notes of my previous relationship experiences and chosen not to view any of them as mistakes, but only as learning tools—or compasses of sorts—of what not to do in my relationship now.
To give each of the H’s a fair shake, I’ll break this topic up into three blogs so that I may explain each in detail.
Honesty is probably the most difficult to master, so I’ll tackle it first. The bottom line with honesty is that if you can’t be honest with yourself, you cannot be honest with anyone else.
There are many aspects of dishonesty that can destroy a relationship and they are not what most think. When people think of dishonesty in a relationship, they immediately go to the act of lying or deceiving each other, hiding things (whether it’s a shopping addiction or a porn collection), or cheating. All of those things just make me feel gross when I think about them. Gross. Gross. Gross. I am so grateful that my husband and I have a pure enough relationship that I don’t even have to think about things like that entering our world.
The destructive dishonesty that I’m referring to is about lying to yourself. It’s easy not to slip a can of pork and beans in your purse at the supermarket. It’s easy to turn away the sexual advances of the copy repairman who seems to frequent your office far too often. It’s not so easy to look in the mirror and be honest about how you are living your life—but specifically for this example—how you are functioning in your relationship.
When red flags go up in a relationship, many tend to turn a semi-blind eye, or justify it, as they wait to go around that proverbial corner in the hopes that it will get better. But it nags at us. It eats us alive. Whenever we look at ourselves in the mirror, we know that we can’t lie to ourselves. We can see the truth in our soul. So why do so many of us do it?
What beats an individual down so much that they are willing to live a life of “meh” instead of a life of “wow”?
Why did I feel so unworthy of being in a quality relationship for most of my life?
Why was my self-worth so far in the basement?
My bottom-line honest answer is that it was because I didn’t have the tools to be a strong and worthy person. I allowed the white noise of society to deem who I was to become and how I was to live my life. Ultimately, it was my choice to allow society to bully me until I finally got mad enough to push back and be honest with myself.
I stood up tall and screamed out to the universe that I was worthy. It’s one thing to throw a temper tantrum and scream “I’m worthy! I’m worthy!”, but it’s another to live a life that is deserving of the blessings. Honesty is how I got to the point of being deserving.
The moment that I looked at my life with a critical/honest eye and made the decision to stop accepting the cream-of-the-crap for a life partner, the tides turned. I took some bold steps forward, but did have moments of complacency as I started trying to fool myself about the worth of that particular relationship. I didn’t, however, throw in the towel immediately when those situations occurred—I did my best to appeal to the other party to see if we could get past the areas that were dissatisfying to me. But if progress just couldn’t happen, I owed it to myself (and the other person) to be brutally honest and move on.
That brutal honesty is what saved me so much time in the dating world. I had a strong list of non-negotiables and I was not going to settle for “meh” anymore.
Honesty with myself also goes so much deeper than just recognizing unhealthy habits or behaviors in my relationship; it also weighs-in heavily on how I deal with situations that occur each day. I still battle my insecurity demons on a daily basis—whether it is in my professional or private life—but I do my best to learn from each of my reactions. I try to dissect them and lecture myself on my irrational behavior. I’m still dumbfounded as to why I let my insecurities have such a stronghold on me, but I’m glad that I, at least, recognize that I am letting the bully get the best of me. I’m not fooling myself anymore and thinking that I’m not worthy; I recognize that I just have to work harder to earn my black belt in honesty.