What exactly does it mean to be a liar? Are you married to a liar when she says she paid the cable bill, but didn’t, but pays it the day before it’s due anyway? What if he says he was down at the local hang out with the guys but tells you he was working late? Is she a liar when she fakes it, or is he a liar when he says he doesn’t know just to avoid an argument? In the strictest sense, a liar is someone who either regularly or occasionally doesn’t tell the truth, whether that is to you or to someone else. There are plenty of people who are perfectly honest with themselves, but hand out quite the load to other people, trying to be impressive or gain acceptance or trying to hide themselves because they simply don’t feel good enough.
It can be frustrating to live with someone who might be stretching the truth, bending the truth, or all out ignoring the truth and making it their own little version of history. Even when the lies seem harmless, they’re not. Every lie is a dent in the armor of trust that creates a real and honestly pure relationship. Blissful contentment can not happen when there is that terrible shadow of doubt. And whether the doubt is about small stuff that shouldn’t really matter, or faithfulness, doubt can easily shred a relationship to scattered bits of yesterday’s fairy tales.
Whether you are concerned about little lies or big lies, lies destroy the absolute core of a marriage and truly need to be dealt with immediately, as uncomfortable as doing so may be. The sooner the better. There may be a reason that your spouse feels lying is a better route than the truth, and getting to the heart of that reason may very well make you marriage stronger.
The number one reason that spouses give for lying is the sense that they can’t be honest. Honesty, when it isn’t what the other spouse wants to hear, can often lead to arguing. Over time, it can just become easier to stop truthfully expressing oneself and say what’s easy or convenient. Of course, there’s always the age old reason—not wanting to get caught doing something inappropriate.
Why is your spouse lying?
Lying can be a sign of a more serious problem (is there one?) such as cheating, gambling, or having an emotional affair. When someone can’t be honest about their whereabouts, then perhaps they are somewhere they shouldn’t be.
The most difficult part of being married to a liar is that dreaded moment when you have to take your suspicions one step higher, to an accusation. This is not something you want to be wrong about. Thinking that you might be married to someone who has become allergic to the truth and knowing that your spouse is a liar are two totally different animals. You really don’t want to be wrong. If you only have your instincts to go on, be careful, but still address the situation. Ask a lot of questions. Find out what’s really going on. Express your concerns, explain why you have doubts, leaving a large window for a true explanation. Your basic goal is to open up a line of dialogue to address the problem, not make random accusations, toss out hurtful comments, or try to belittle your spouse for making you doubt them. If there is lying going on, then there needs to be a frank discussion about it. Attacking a liar is likely to result in merely more lies.
Broken trust can be mended. Not always, but often, trust that has been marred by the business of lying can be mended. However, it takes a commitment by both parties to reestablish the trust that has been broken. If the lying has taken place out of fear or simplicity, there is nothing like honesty from both parties to mend that damage. If the lying has taken place to cover up an affair, a dangerous habit, or an entanglement that jeopardizes the family’s security, rebuilding trust can take a long time.
Some spouses feel that once the trust has been shattered, that’s it. It’s time to pack up the kids and go. There’s nothing left. While it is perfectly natural to feel this way, it is often the emotions commonly known as anger and betrayal making those decisions. These are, of course, perfectly natural and acceptable emotions when you figure out that you are married to a liar. Often, expressing those emotions clearly and stating exactly what the lies have done to you will help start an honest conversation about the lying.
Some people feel that there is no point to having an open and honest conversation about why a spouse is lying. Some people feel that once the crime of the lie has been committed there is no turning back. One betrayal of trust is enough to break up some families. This is understandable, and even in some ways commendable—commendable that one partner holds the truth in such high regard. However, here’s a little something to chew on while you’re getting over your shock, anger, and resentment.
We all lie. Every last one of us. We might only lie about really small stuff, like that’s we’re doing okay when we pass someone in the hallways who casually asks how we are. We tell our spouse that dinner was perfect, even though you were wishing for take out halfway through it. We pick our battles, which sometimes means we pretend we’re okay with something when we’re not. Sometimes we slightly embellish or pretend that something didn’t really happen, because our fragile minds can’t handle it. We are all, on some level, liars. What matters, is what level we choose to lie on. No one tells the absolute truth all the time. If we did, we certainly wouldn’t be well liked by our friends when we kick them on a down day, telling them they look like they gained five pounds over the last week. Being married to a liar is certainly not a novelty. How much untruth you choose to accept, and how open you are to discussing these untruths will determine whether your relationship will flourish because of it, or fail due to it. Breaking through a lie means being willing to not only hear the truth, but accept the truth as part of your spouse.