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Iron Sharpens Iron | Applied to Dating & Marriage
by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.
Most people dream of falling in love with their soul mate and living happily ever after. However, many struggle knowing how to proactively encourage this type of relationship with another person. One of the most important components is complete honesty. 100% honesty is usually required for 100% closeness and it's essential because "iron sharpens iron." Instead, most people hide certain parts of their thoughts and feelings for fear of hurting their partner, fear of being too vulnerable, or fear of being rejected. However, each area we hide from our spouse creates another brick in the wall that separates us from them.
The first step in developing full disclosure is sharing vulnerable elements about yourself. Where do you feel most shameful about your body, your past, or your current behavior? What are your greatest insecurities? What areas would you be most embarrassed for your partner to find out? While these areas can be extremely uncomfortable to share, they are the most important ones to disclose to cultivate true emotional intimacy. Therefore, as trust and safety is established, share these dark spots with your partner and watch how it glues the two of you together.
The second step in cultivating transparency with your partner is sharing your true thoughts and feelings about them. Most people hesitate sharing this type of information for fear of offending their partner or hurting their feelings. However, romantic relationships are one of the best contexts for sharing truth in a loving, non-attacking way. What are your partner’s biggest blind spots? What changes could bless them the most? Where could they become more like Christ? God tends to refine us most through our closest relationships. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV).
The third step in developing full disclosure is sharing what you really think and feel about your relationship together. Most people hesitate discussing this because they want to believe relationships will always remain magically blissful or they fear being perceived as demanding and critical. However, successful relationships are built upon open, honest communication. What could bring more satisfaction into our relationship? Where do we need to grow most as a couple? How could we better meet one another’s needs? Honestly sharing these responses in a loving, respectful manner will provide incredible insight into tweaking your relationship for increased closeness and longevity.
Finally, the fourth step in cultivating a successful relationship is honesty sharing any significant sexual feelings you may develop towards anyone beyond your spouse. Most people avoid this topic for fear of upsetting or hurting their partner. While sharing minor attractions isn’t recommended, sharing major ones is for several reasons. To begin with, sin loves secrecy; therefore, the longer you don’t share this type of information with your spouse, the more likely you’ll eventually act on it. Conversely, sharing it will help break the powerful pull you feel towards the other person. In addition, experiencing significant attraction towards someone beyond your spouse usually indicates either your spiritual, emotional, or physical needs for intimacy are not being met within your marriage, which needs to be discussed to help affair proof your relationship moving forward.
So, even though it can be difficult to honestly share your thoughts and feelings about yourself, your partner, your relationship, and others, it’s one of the best ways to cultivate true emotional intimacy for years to come.
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What do you feel would help couples become more honest with one another?