If you’re like most people, you were probably taught early on that being polite toward others is one of life’s top priorities. And while this advice certainly has a place, it can be detrimental to marriages if taken too literally. There are, in fact, statistics to prove that polite marriages end in adultery. There are two sides of this coin.
When You CAN Be More Polite
1). We tend to be most casual with the people we know best. The relationships in which we’re most comfortable – where we’ve known the other person for a long time, where they’ve seen us at our best and worst – tend to be the places where we are most open about our feelings and frustrations. These dynamics are usually within marriages, long-term relationships, or with family members. Being open with our feelings is a crucial part of having a functioning relationship, but too often, we unburden ourselves from the stresses of the day without giving a second thought for how disrespectful this could be to the other person. We let our true colors show, for better or for worse, and the people we’re the most comfortable with often become the people we unleash upon. When we find ourselves tending toward these extremes, we could benefit from being more respectful, and yes – a bit more polite. But then there’s the other extreme.
When You SHOULDN’T Be More Polite
2). We walk on eggshells with our partner. This can be due to many things: we were taught to be overly polite toward everyone; we haven’t learned to be ourselves around our partner; we’re afraid of what the other person might think; we’re afraid of the intimacy that honesty could bring. Whatever the reason – some being more drastic than others – the result tends to be the same: when a relationship is too polite, both people suffer. Avoiding confrontation, bottling up true feelings, refusing to communicate honestly – all these things can have damaging results . Things can sometimes even end in an affair, if either or both parties feel they can’t be themselves around their significant other.
Finding The Balance
Obviously both of these situations have major flaws. To deal with both of these problems, couples must learn to communicate openly about things that bother you, things you’re struggling with, things that stress you out. You can start out by using what I call “Smart Heart Skills and Dialogue,” which I talk about in my book, “Adultery the Forgivable Sin.” The idea is to provide a safe place where each person can feel comfortable talking about their fears and frustrations. These types of habits can be the glue that helps to create passion in a relationship, even during and spite of disagreements and conflict. This may start out as basically as telling your partner you HAVEN’T been communicating these feelings and asking them to be patient with you while you learn how to go through this process. It may involve treating eachother with more respect, and being more mindful of the problems at hand during heated arguments.
The solution is not to avoid fighting, but to learn to fight fair.