One Saturday afternoon six months into my marriage,
I noticed my husband's business credit card statement lying on the kitchen table. On it I spied a $55 personal charge to a golf store. Fifty-five dollars may not seem like much, but we'd both agreed to discuss purchases over $50. I couldn't believe Russell had kept something from me.
I immediately found him. "What's this?" I asked, holding out the statement.
"I thought we agreed to discuss larger purchases."
"That's a mistake," he admitted. "As soon as I bought the putter I felt guilty. I've already returned it—the credit should show up next month." We reviewed our budget decisions, and that was that.
Until his next statement arrived showing no credit for the returned putter.
Though Russell assured me he'd straighten out things, I had a queasy feeling he wasn't being truthful. My search of the garage revealed the new putter poking out of his golf bag. If he didn't tell me about this, what else has he been hiding? I wondered. I started to envision other secrets Russell might be keeping, and I questioned whether or not I really knew him. All of a sudden my perfect husband seemed to vanish in this one instance of betrayal.
I was too upset to talk to Russell at first—all I could do was cry. So that afternoon I poured out my hurt to God.
"Why would Russell hurt me this way?" I asked. God's answer was not what I expected.
A few months before the putter incident, I was at a store to exchange a present we'd received from friends, since we already had an identical item. Because of our debt, Russell and I had agreed to a tight budget. But instead of one replacement item, I found two: a lovely, white cake plate and a darling red cookie tray.
Why not pay the extra and get both? I'd thought.
It would disregard the budget, my conscience replied.
I decided since I balanced the checkbook, my husband would never know about the extra purchase. Anyway, it was only $6.50, well under our $50 limit. I took home that cookie tray and promptly hid it in the cabinet. Then I proudly displayed the cake plate.
A few weeks later I pulled out the tray and arranged warm snickerdoodle cookies on it. Russell entered the room and casually asked, "Is that new?" I looked him in the eye, smiled, and replied, "No, I've had it."
I told a big, fat lie—about a 6-dollar-and-50-cent cookie tray!
Now, sitting in my bedroom, praying about Russell's lies and being reminded of my own, I felt shame and regret. I knew what I had to do.
I found Russell and confessed my dishonesty. Though it was difficult to form the words, I felt a deep sense of relief.
Then he broke down and admitted the truth about his golf purchase. He explained that when I'd confronted him, he'd been caught off guard and unsure of my reaction. At the time it had seemed easier to lie and hope the situation would go unnoticed. My openness about my deception made him feel comfortable enough to acknowledge his own.
Our little deceptions seemed small and meaningless, but they ate away the core of our trust. We grew closer that day as we asked for and received forgiveness. We vowed we'd no longer hide even small, insignificant things from each other.
Now we try to maintain an atmosphere where we can confess our mistakes and not fear the other's reaction. We're also intentional about putting issues in the open, even if they seem trivial. When I received a phone call from a man I used to work with, I told Russell immediately. That kind of honesty has opened the lines of communication between us.
While sometimes we're still tempted to hide things, the cookie tray and putter remind us of a place we never want to revisit. We've learned that honesty really is the best policy. While the process isn't always easy or painless, the end result is more than gratifying.
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