The Fruit of a Healthy Relationship
- Tuesday, August 31, 2004
We’ve all shared private and personal information with a trusted friend, only to learn later that our friend has blabbed it to the world. But does this mean we can’t expect anyone to keep their mouth closed? No. Not if they’re healthy.
We need to tell secrets our secrets. It helps us explore what’s troubling us and sometimes leads to helpful feedback. Sharing our secrets lets us test the reaction to what we’ve been holding in our heart. Not only that, it’s a relief not to be the only person who has experienced a certain temptation or tragedy. It makes us feel less alone when we unburden our soul and a friend says “me too” or “I understand.”
Sharing a secret can bring us closer together and deepen our relationship – but only if the relationship is healthy. Healthy people consider it a privilege to hear what’s on our mind, and they leave it at that. When it comes to keeping a confidence, healthy people are a human vault.
Fruit # 2: Honesty
"Genuine relationships cannot exist where one of the parties is unwilling to hear the truth," said Cicero, "and the other is equally indisposed to speak it." As painful as the truth might be, a healthy relationship cannot survive without it. As the well-known proverb says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Now this does not mean that honesty gives license to be insulting, offensive or badgering. Healthy relationships call for speaking the truth in love and respect. Without these ingredients, honesty is a lethal weapon. Perhaps that’s what caused Cicero to add, "Remove respect from friendship and you have taken away the most splendid ornament it possesses."
People deserve the respect of knowing the truth. They deserve to know if they are hurting someone’s feelings, being too aggressive, too lazy, too anything. And healthy people know they can’t live without this kind of feedback. For without it, they cannot achieve unswerving authenticity, or understand themselves well enough to be able to empathize with others and extend self-giving love freely, without conditions or restraints.
Some time ago I (Les) was counseling a twenty-something student named Lisa who came to my office in hopes of resolving a problem with a close friend. Lisa wasted no time in telling me the problem concerned her friend’s stinginess.
“Jenny is so tight, she squeaks when she walks,” Lisa confessed.
“Is this a new problem?” I asked.
“Oh no, it’s been going on for years. But it’s really wearing thin, and I find myself wanting to avoid being with Jenny whenever money is involved.”
Lisa went in to tell me how meticulous Jenny can be when trying to figure out a shared bill at a restaurant. She told me about the time it took an extra 10 minutes to pay for parking at a downtown garage because she wanted to make change for splitting the bill.
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