The joys (and frustrations) of talking openly with your partner

My husband wears his heart on his sleeve. Every like, dislike, concern, joy and anxiety is immediately vocalised, with seemingly no filter between the brain and mouth.

Sometimes it’s charming. Sometimes, to be completely honest with you, it can test the patience. But I am certain of one thing: it keeps us honest and happy.

On one hand, no bad habit of mine will go by un-noted. On the other, I can live my life in the full knowledge that no ill will is being repressed; that no fundamental frustration exists with our relationship. He would never say “I love you” without meaning it.

This has also inspired me to be far more honest with my feelings. The existential worries that once brought on panic attacks are kept in check. Any passing concern, even a feeling of low energy or uncertainty, can safely and comfortably be shared.

I have no doubt whatsoever that we owe our many happy years to this dynamic, which has remained relatively unchanged over the years.

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I look at my brother and sister-in-law’s marriage, and I see something else entirely. Not better, not worse, just entirely different.

They are frequently guessing at one another’s feelings. They seem to work through their frustrations through passive-aggression and distance rather than open conversation. They know each other well. They work around one another’s quirks, as every couple should. They can read silences – happy or otherwise – as well as any more vocal couple can communicate with words.

We are the lucky ones. Sometimes neither approach is entirely right.

I’ve seen far too many relationships fall apart due to avoidable misunderstandings. But over time, seemingly just as many seem to suffer from too much openness, particularly when concerns are expressed with brutal honesty.

How honest is too honest? How quiet is too quiet? Does it extend into health problems? Financial worries?

Is honesty always the best policy? Or should some things remain off-limits?

Today we’d like to ask the Starts at 60 community: do you speak honestly with your loved ones? Has it always been this way, or has it changed over time?