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Rule #1: Insist on emotional integrity

You gotta tell it like it is! You must insist that everything you say, imply, or insinuate is accurate, and if your partner challenges you on those messages, you must step up and own them. Mean what you say and say what you mean. You don't have to tell people everything you think or feel. But you do have to be accurate when you choose to disclose.

Suppose you're upset. When your partner senses that and asks, "Is something bothering you?" emotional integrity requires that you won't deny the message you're sending verbally or otherwise by saying, "Nothing is wrong; I'm fine." You may not be ready to discuss it, so the accurate answer might be, "I don't want to tell you right now; I'm just not ready to talk about it."

A lot of couples flagrantly violate this principle. Then they say, "We have trouble communicating." Of course they do—they both lie like dogs! And while we're on the subject: A material omission—leaving out something of crucial importance—is as much a lie as any actual misstatement.