About six months ago, I decided to start being honest in my marriage.
OK, I admit that is an absurd statement. To clarify, I was never dishonest in my marriage. However, there are varying degrees of honesty in any relationship.
I made a conscious decision to be up-front about my feelings. No beating around the bush. No withholding how I felt to spare my husband. No leaving passive/aggressive hints like crumbs for a mouse. I decided I was just going to cut to the chase and speak my peace.
Even if it felt like pulling a tooth with no anesthetic.
And sometimes it does. OK, to be fair, many times it does!
For the sake of disclosure, I will say that Mr. Case and I have always been resolutely devoted to working on communication. Or at a minimum, he goes along with whatever I want to try. We had pre-marital counseling, and literally since we were first married we have been active in marriage groups within our church, attended retreats, read books and guides, etc. I married a good sport. Well, in fairness, I guess calling Mr. Case a "good sport" is demeaning because obviously he is committed, too, or else he wouldn't partake in all this. I guess what I'm trying to say is, we work really hard.
Moving has been difficult. Being each other's sole source of entertainment for quite a while, and having no other outlets, challenged our communication. I decided we could stand to improve. Part of my epiphany was acknowledging that it is easy to reflect on my spouse's flaws, but that true change would need to start with my own flaws.
The changes within myself have left me feeling liberated. I just take a deep breath and say how I feel. Seems so simple, right? Maybe even a little stoopid. I can't say where my mindset originated (the media? family or origin?) but I have conditioned myself to holding back. Mostly it was out of fear.
And let me assure you, Mr. Case is benefiting from this, too. He doesn't have to play psychic. He is relieved to hear what is upsetting me, and he is even more relieved when I tell him what he needs to do to fix it, rather than him having to speculate and hope something works. It is easy for me to think that after a certain number of years he should "know" what to do but in reality, that's unfair. It's easier for both of us to fix big issues and little ones if we know what the person needs. A lot of emotional exhaustion has been removed from situations, making it much, much easier to move forward.
This new found honesty hasn't prevented any disagreements, as surely anyone in a long-term relationship can understand that things will never be "perfect." But it sure as hell helps to remove an extra level of drama that is entirely unnecessary.
The level of intimacy we can achieve by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is amazing. At one point I found myself saying, 'If we can't be honest with each other, than who can we be honest with? At this point in our lives, we deserve that honesty. A spouse should be a safety zone." Mr. Case concurred.
So yeah, it hurts. But the end result is always better than if we'd continued playing charades. I'm very proud of us.
And to think, it only took slightly more than half a decade to get here....