Perfect, Positive, Real, or Honest?

It was months ago.  The details are a bit fuzzy, but I remember the message clearly.  I was listening to the interview of a woman on the radio.  She had just written a book and the particular point she was making at that moment was about the disservice women do to each other when they try to portray the idea that their life is perfect.  While that could be a whole book unto itself, the implication was this:  It is prideful, it is deceitful, it is dishonest, and it is sinful.

Ouch.

But when I take the time to think about it, I totally agree.  I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I blog is to be honest.

Still, how can we balance honesty and realism while maintaining gratitude, honor, and respect for our husbands and families without slipping a wee bit into deception?

Consider two (hypothetical) respresentations of my family life:

1.  I have the most amazing hubby!  He does X, Y, & Z over-the-top amazing things for me all the time and even surprised me with a luxury vacation – we’re leaving for Hawaii on Friday!  Aloha!

2.  How in the world did I wind up with such an idiot?  He did X, Y, & Z boneheaded things and I swear the only thing he’s good at is driving me crazy.  Ugh!

Truth be told, there are times in our marriages when we probably feel variations of each of these sentiments – often time influenced less by reality and more by external factors such as stress, hormones, or even the weather.

Choosing to express #1 is incredibly honoring to our husbands – probably the best type of compliment is one shared unexpectedly with other people.  But at the same time, if that’s the only way you represent your family life it can be pretty discouraging to the woman who is struggling in her marriage and starts to believe that a “happy” family is one that is blissful all the time.

Choosing #2 is pretty disrespectful to our husbands, and a pretty unhealthy and inappropriate way to express our dissatisfaction with our spouse.  I’d argue that using that type of language about our partner is never acceptable.  At the same time, if a woman is struggling with her family life, she finds a level of credibility and rapport with someone who is open about her own struggles.

So where’s the balance?  Is there a way to realistically, respectfully, and honestly share life with one another without a teeny bit of deceit, truth-stretching, or lies of omission?  Sharing our struggles – in addition to our joys – is healthy and encouraging, but it’s tough to figure out how to do it appropriately.

Here’s another example.  When I have guests over to my house I make sure it is “company-ready.”  Truthfully, pride plays a part in that decision.  But a more honorable motive would be to respect our guests and make sure they have a comfortable experience in our home.

And since I’m being honest I’ll admit that sometimes when I’m taking pictures for my blog I’ll move a pile of junk mail out of the way, or brush crumbs off the counter, so it’s not in the photo.  So you don’t think I’m a slob.  🙂  See my contentment post as an example.  You didn’t really think my house was clean all the time, did you?

I’ve been a bit convicted about that for awhile so I’m committing to you that I won’t do that any more.  What you see is what you get.  Real.  Honest.  And maybe the accountability will be good for me.

My goal is to take this opportunity to reflect on my own motives and to be more careful about the words I choose.  Am I purposefully choosing to honor my husband, encourage other women, exercise contentment & gratitude, or am I choosing words (or photos!) out of a desire to be seen as better than I am and slipping into pridefulness?  Maybe I’m choosing some language of anger – or just plain disrespect – and calling it “honesty.”

Any thoughts from you, friends?  How can we we positive, grateful, real, and honest all at the same time?  How can we lift up our spouses, be thankful for what we’ve been given, but still acknowledge that life isn’t perfect?  Or would you argue that it’s never acceptable to share some of the challenging times out of respect for your husband?  I would love to hear from you!

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3 thoughts on “Perfect, Positive, Real, or Honest?

  1. I think it depends. For example, if you are with some girlfriends and are struggling insome area of your life, I see no reason to not confide in them. They can help with the burden our offer help, advice, etc. ok the other hand, if you’re posting it as, say, a facebook status, I think that is not the appropriate place to ‘air your dirty laundry’, so to speak. Yes, asking for advice on something is fine, but not in the full disclosure of the issue. For example, if you and your husband are fighting, it doesn’t need to be for all the world to see. But you could anonymize it and say ‘does anyone have any suggestions on how to reconcile with somone over such-and-such issue?’ (As long as it’s not family finances or something that will be obvious who you’re arguing with!)

  2. I think we should be open and honest and not try to make ourselves look better than we really are. In fact, I go out of my way sometimes to show tell how imperfect I am to keep others from feeling like they are all alone in their imperfectness. When it comes to revealing imperfections in the family – well, I think it depends on why you have decided to talk about them. If it’s to encourage someone that, yes, we all have flawed lives, but that doesn’t keep us from being happy or from trusting in God – then I say go for it! The same thing applies if you have gone through trials and have found a way to conquer them. I would try to only use these as an example is you actually have something to offer the person you’re talking to – say they’re going through a similar experience and need the encouragement or advice about what to do next. (I would ask permission before revealing any huge secrets about your husband though.) If, however, you are just “sharing” because you want to get a reaction out of someone – see their eyes pop or their jaw drop – then just skip it. It’s a selfish motivation that just wants attention. Also, I would avoid talking about things when you feel like complaining. Wait until someone needs the information.

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