How to be honest without hurting your spouse’s feelings

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If honesty is the foundation of trust and intimacy, why does it sometimes lead to hurt feelings?

Perhaps we need to practice honesty the way we practice other skills.

It’s not simply a matter of saying, “Your laugh is annoying” or “You drink too much.”

To avoid hurting each other’s feelings, we have to pick the right time and place, choose our words wisely, and – paradoxically – be ready to hear the truth about ourselves.

Here are 5 ways to be honest without hurting your spouse’s feelings.

1. Pick the right time

To start, pick a time and a place where your spouse will be open to hearing the uncomfortable truth – whether it’s about their unflattering wardrobe or the lack of romance in your relationship. Timing matters, because it takes patience, energy, and emotional hardiness to be on the receiving end. We should avoid difficult conversations after a long day of tedious work or a missed lunch, because we experience what psychologists call “ego depletion”: our mental reserves of self-control are running low.

Instead, pick a time when you both are refreshed, and you don’t have to rush. For most people, it’s best if these conversations happen in private. Entrepreneur and investor Brad Feld and his wife Amy Batchelor actually schedule monthly “Life Dinners” to discuss issues, so they’re both mentally prepared for an honest conversation.

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