Coming Clean With Each Other
Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again.
~ Romans 8:14–15 (NIV)
When Sheryl and Gary got engaged, they sat down and had some pretty frank conversations with one another. They discussed their families and their past relationships, trying to identify the ways their childhoods and dating histories might impinge on their present and future together.
What they didn’t discuss—at least not adequately—was their financial history. In particular, Gary didn’t tell his fiancée that, six years before, he had gotten into massive credit card debt. Gary figured he had dealt with the problem so it was behind him. Why bring up something that wasn’t an issue anymore?
Of course, any time we find ourselves thinking along those lines, something more is going on. If the incident in question was truly in the past, we would feel OK sharing it. Failing to bring up credit card debt, porn use or an affair means the shame of it hasn’t really left us but is still choking us as we try to keep it secret. Over time we become captive to our fears of being found out.
Gary managed to keep his financial past hidden from Sheryl for a few years, though he now says that, in hindsight, he can see that his inability to talk about money with Sheryl caused him to dodge conversations that were important for their financial future. Eventually, Gary had to talk about money and ’fess up to his past money mistakes and his deception when he and Sheryl tried to buy a house and were turned down for a loan because of Gary’s bad credit rating.
It was hard, of course, to have those conversations. “It was much harder than if I’d told Sheryl about my credit card debt years before,” Gary said. “Then we could have strategized together. And then I wouldn’t have had to deal with both Sheryl’s distress that we were having a hard time getting a mortgage and her even greater distress that I had, in effect, lied to her by not telling her the whole truth.”
It can be hard—even terrifying—to reveal a long-buried secret to your spouse. You worry he’ll be furious, that he’ll judge you, that he’ll be hurt. Indeed, your spouse might be hurt. She might be angry. She might be stunned. But put yourself in your spouse’s shoes; if he was keeping something from you, you would want him to come clean, not only so that you could be in the know, but so that he could be freed from the chains of shame and secrecy.
Romans 8:14–15 tells us that we are no longer slaves to fear. As children of God, we live in the light of full disclosure, sure of forgiveness, pardon and restoration—in our relationship with God and with each other.
- Is there a not-so-big issue one of us is keeping from the other? What is preventing full disclosure?
- Does envisioning God as truly present in our conversations make it easier to imagine starting a hard conversation with each other about that secret?
- Look back to the hard conversations we’ve had with each other. What have been the fruits of those discussions?