Yes, we are considering openness in relationship. This is because, at all levels of relationships, openness is required. Though, today we are faced with the challenge of the degree of openness.
Tade asked me if it was important to mention his salary to his wife who he just married few months ago. The other day, my husband and I were discussing about his colleague who mentioned that she doesn’t tell her husband whenever there was an increase in her salary, her question was “why should she? It is not new that couples keep the code to their phones or pins to their ATM’s card secret from each other.
When we talk about openness, what do we mean?
The dictionary explain Openness as a state of being open. Often, we interchange openness to honesty, sincerity, etc. but for the sake of this discussion, I will inter-change openness with transparency. This is because there is a difference between honesty and openness.
Honesty is the act of saying the truth whenever asked for, openness on the other hand is the habit of being honest or saying the truth without being asked for it.
So, the next question is, should there be openness in any relationship, especially marriage relationship? And if yes, to what extent? These and many more will be addressed below.
Openness is one of the building blocks of a thriving relationship. It is essential, if you must experience genuine intimacy and trust in your relationship.
In any relationship, it is my submission that the extent of openness determines the depth of the relationship. However, to some people, openness is a desire, a want, while to others being open is a need! In essence, depending on the individual, the level of openness may vary.
Bur regardless of openness being a need or a want, if your aim is to build a strong and intimate relationship with your partner, you need to be transparent with or to each other. Nobody goes into any relationship for it to be static, the desire of anyone in a relationship is for it to get better thereby creating a more intimate union. All things been equal.
No doubt, ‘openness’ in the real sense of it is fast becoming a scarce value in most relationships and the reasons are not far-fetched. Some of these reasons could be:
- Fear: The fear of not been accepted as you are, or being taken advantage of. Fear of rejection can make people not to be open and nobody wants to be taken for granted.
- Motives: it is not impossible to see people go into relationships for ulterior motives, persons of such disposition already has a wrong motive and would do all to hide such motive from an unsuspecting partner.
- Nature, background and upbringing may also be one of the reasons why some individuals are not open to their partner. For example, in a typical African setting, a man is expected to be secretive, with such expectation, such a person goes into a relationship with the tendency of keeping information or things from the partner as deem fit.
- Lack of understanding of the essence of marriage relationship. Any couple who goes into marriage with the aim of competing instead of complementing each other will often have this issue with openness. Competitors are expected to keep some trade mark as secrets, but relationship especially marriage relationship is not a business contract.
- Misunderstanding about the meaning of openness itself. When openness is seen as weakness, or unnecessary vulnerability then you don’t want to be perceived as a weak person.
- Maturity displayed by partners in handling matters often influences the extent of openness. The decision of partners to either do selective interactions or total openness is dependent on the level of maturity that is perceived by the persons involved.
Though some of these reasons exist, openness is expected to bring understanding which invariably enhance trust as one of the building blocks for an amazing connection.
What are the areas where individuals find it difficult to be transparent or justifiable to hide from their partners?
- i.e. the phone pad patterns or pins,
- Social media accounts; some partners are not friends on Facebook
- Past, present relationships
- Secret affairs
- Health status
- Trips, lunches, dinner, visitation to Ex , etc
- Assets, investments, finance, income, debt,
- Family backgrounds
- Past or present addictions
Why should a couple embrace openness?
Everyone has secrets and it varies from one degree to another. However, any individual on the path of marriage must not only embrace openness, but also ensure that he/she is opened to the other significant partner on the above mentioned if the goal of the union is to have a wholesome, uncommon and awesome connection as a couple.
In relationship, most of the time, it is not the big things that matters, but the little things. Therefore, to have a healthy and growing relationship, you must take care of little things such as openness in your relationship.
Hiding things, even the little details may seem harmless such as some of the ones mentioned above, but at the long run, it is like a little puncture in a tyre, it is a matter of distance the damage will be felt.
Moreso, transparency is like a lubricant that aids quality and effective communication to take place in a union.
Love relationship especially commitment such as marriage requires 100% disclosure (transparency/ openness), not 99.999% Transparency, especially between couples is more than being naked in bed. Your openness to each other must be in totality and should extend to every facet of your life. This should be the basis and desired place for couples because it is difficult or nearly impossible to build a solid union where partners allow secrecy to thrive.
You must have heard this statement that “adultery thrives where there is secrecy”. Yes, it’s true and more so, secrecy is not only applicable to adultery. When an individual is not transparent to the companion on other areas, there is bound to be a vacuum that only openness can close.
Intimacy is much more than what transpires in the bedroom because transparency is beyond nakedness. Openness includes intimacy at all levels in the relationship. When couples are not open to each other or they have a problem with complete transparency, some things are likely going to happen in such union:
- It opens you or/ and your partner up to temptations
- It hinders intimacy
- It disrupts the growth of trust in the union
- It may be impossible to make informed decisions which may affect the overall outcome of the union
- Either or both partner may be vulnerable to blackmail from an intruder (usually the person that the supposed secret is opened to)
BENEFITS OF OPENNESS
Openness amongst many other things helps individuals to:
- Guide against unrealistic expectations
- It promotes a sense of responsibility and commitment to each other
- It safe-guides partners from interferences from intruders
- It makes bonding to be achievable between partners
- It guides against keeping secrets that may eventually be used against any or both partners
Openness/ transparency will only be pursued by those who valued it. That transparency is no longer valued as it should is not an excuse. The fact that it is becoming scarce gives an idea that it is one of the missing ingredients in most relationships experiencing hurts, disappointment, heartbreaks, etc. people are found hiding one thing or another that will eventually become a big deal if revealed.
If communication is the life blood of any relationship, then openness is one of the secrets to having an effective communication. Therefore, since transparency is very key to actualising a desired intimacy with your partner, then there must be the ‘how’ to go about it.
HOW TO ACHIEVE OPENNESS IN RELATIONSHIP
- STARTING: the first step to actualising openness is actually starting. Start by being open. Of course, it may not be easy, to someone else it may even be a lonely path because it may seems you are the only one taking that bold step, but start. In little and less complicated matters such as openness in your emotions for example, let your partner know when you are happy, upset etc., don’t just say “it is ok” when it is not. If you want your partner to be transparent with you, start by being that partner that has nothing to hide. Start with yourself first!
- Be committed to being transparent
- See the end from the beginning. The end result of openness is to develop a deeper intimacy with your partner. If this is your desire, then let it be your driving force.
- Openness takes the power from the enemy and restores the power to where it belongs, which is with you. So, pursue transparency and don’t be a slave to “fear of the untold”. Remember that there is actually no secret on the surface of the earth. Telling it may not be as bad as hiding it, after all.
- Seek to understand your partner and not castigate when your partner is open to you. It may not be easy, but embrace the path. It may be the freedom you desire after all. It is also worth noting that the measure at which you give, may in turn be meted on you.
Transparency is hard to build when there is no openness between the two parties involved. Indeed, openness may be challenging, but it is worth pursuing!
I wish you success in your journey to re-establishing transparency in your relationship!
Thank you for reading.