What would you say the difference is between being honest and being transparent? My friend’s husband has had a very bad pornography problem, cheated on her multiple times, lost his job, and created other problems for them. Even though he says he is being honest about situations and not lying, he doesn’t give details or offer information. He just wants her to take his word. I was trying to explain about being totally being transparent with her. She can’t seem to get her husband to understand that he needs to be open about things that are simple. For example, she would like to know about where he spends his time. She wants to know where he is and what he’s doing. He thinks it’s silly and has nothing to do with being open and honest. I’ve dealt with my husband breaking my trust in the past and he’s been willing to tell me everything, which helped us heal. Don’t you need transparency along with honesty?
Honesty and transparency are the same thing. When a relationship is safe and secure, it’s easy to take our partner’s word as truth and give them the benefit of the doubt. Healthy relationships are naturally transparent. They operate on the basis of “what you see is what you get.”
Affair researcher and author Shirley Glass taught that healthy couples build windows between them instead of walls. There should be no walls in a marriage relationship. Elder Richard G. Scott emphasized this when he said, “A husband must have no private, hidden agenda that is kept secret from his wife. Sharing everything about each other’s personal life is powerful spiritual insurance.”
The Lord warned men (and women) against covering their sins, hiding behind their callings, and using secrets to control and manipulate others. When we have secrets from our partners, we are manipulating their reality by not letting them make fully informed decisions. It’s a form of abuse and control to keep someone in the dark.
Full transparency, on the other hand, is complete consecration in the marriage. It’s true unity. I believe the Lord was referring to this idea when he said, “Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.” If we aren’t sharing information with our partner that they deserve to know, we aren’t reconciled to them. In other words, we don’t have a marriage.
Take, for instance, our bank accounts. When we reconcile our bank statement with our records, we are making sure everything matches. If something doesn’t match, we have to spend the time and energy to get to the truth about what happened. Likewise, we should always be reconciled with our spouses to ensure both partners always have the same information.
When trust has been broken through secrets, infidelity, or other betrayals, the unfaithful partner has the responsibility to increase their transparency by continually reassuring the partner of their honesty. Trust is earned through multiple experiences of seeing a perfect match between words and actions. If something doesn’t match, it needs to be accounted for and repaired. If an unfaithful person demands the injured party simply believe them without having to provide transparency, they will never restore trust in that relationship.
It’s perfectly reasonable for a betrayed partner to seek evidence that she’s not being duped. She should have full access to any information that would help her believe and trust. If trust is fully restored in the relationship (which, by the way, can take years, in most cases), then the betrayed partner won’t require as much physical evidence to prove the truth. Early on, however, it’s just about the only way a relationship can be repaired.
Everything has to match for trust to be restored. If he says one thing and does another, trust won’t be restored, regardless of the importance of the situation. Exactness matters to the betrayed partner. Any deviation from the truth will open up suspicion that there are more secrets and lies.
When we can see through something that is transparent, the truth is right in front of us. Since it’s difficult to prove he’s NOT doing something wrong, it’s essential for him to go out of his way to show he’s being honest. If he has nothing to hide, then he shouldn’t have an issue with his wife wanting more information. In fact, he would go out of his way to make easy for her to see everything he’s doing.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected]
About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, UT. He is the owner of Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com) and the founding director of LifeStar of St.George, an outpatient treatment program for couples and individuals impacted by pornography and sexual addiction (<a href="https://www.
<hr class=’system-pagebreak’ /><hr class=’system-pagebreak’ />lifestarstgeorge.com”>www.lifestarstgeorge.com). He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, available at Deseret Book, and the audio series “Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage”, available at www.marriage-recovery.com. He also writes a weekly relationship column for the St. George News (www.stgnews.com). He holds a bachelors degree from BYU in communications studies and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University. He served a full-time mission to the Dominican Republic and currently serves on the high council of the St. George, Utah young single adult second stake. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children. You can connect with him at: