In the first article in the Love and Lies series (Love and Lies: Why Spouses Lie to Each Other, Part 1), we explored some of the reasons why couples might overtly lie or, at times, subtly distort the truth to each other. While some degree of deception in marriage and long-term relationships is common, lying always runs the risk of damaging what you and your spouse/partner have worked so hard to build together.
Broken trust in a relationship can destroy a once healthy marriage/relationship.
It’s easy to make the argument that “honesty is always the best policy” in your marriage/relationship. And while this is an ideal that we should all strive to achieve, the first article explored the complex motivations that can lead you or your partner to lie to one another (sometimes with the best intentions).
Relationship Help: Why do you lie to your spouse/partner?
Now it’s time for some honest self-reflection to help you better understand the role of lying in your marriage/relationship.
Here are some questions to help you gain insight into the role that truth and lying might have in your marriage or relationship:
- Do you see yourself in any of the reasons for lying in the first Love and Lies article?
- If so, is your tendency to lie infrequent and innocuous, or is your lie covering up a damaging and painful truth (like an infidelity)?
- What would you need in order to share with your spouse/partner the reasons you feel you have to withhold the truth?
- Do you find yourself having to lie to cover up previous lies (an indication that your lying is out of control)?
- Finally, how do you feel about yourself after you’ve lied?
Feeling upset with yourself or guilty after lying is an indication that your dishonesty is in direct conflict with your values (values like honesty, integrity, authenticity, openness). Failure to live up to your values can have a dramatic impact on your psychological well-being. The problem with lying is that once you’ve successfully distorted or withheld the truth to your spouse/partner, lying can become easier to do. So proceed with caution and understand your motives.
Self-Reflection Action Step: Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Is the tendency to lie to your partner consistent with your past behavior? (In other words, have you observed similar patterns of lying in previous relationships and/or across different circumstances of your life?) Think about times you’ve lied outright (uttered an untruth) as well as times you’ve omitted information (withholding the truth).
- Do you find yourself lying more often in your marriage or relationship as compared to past relationships and other areas of your life? If so, why do you think this is the case?
If you answered yes to the second question, you might feel that the unique dynamics of your current relationship prevent you from communicating honestly with your partner.
- What do you imagine the worse-case scenario is if you stopped lying to your spouse/partner?
These are a few of the questions I use when working with someone who struggles with telling the truth to his/her loved ones. Don’t rush through these questions; come back to them as often as you need in order to deepen your understanding of why you lie. This is important information to have so that you can build (or rebuild) a relationship that is built on a foundation of truth and honesty.
Wishing you and your relationship all the best,
Dr. Rich Nicastro