An almost universal complaint is “he (or she) lied to me.” Lying in your marriage is an inevitable discord waiting to happen. People in troubled marriages act as if lying within their marriage is unique and ends all trust, making the whole relationship a sham.
Nobody wants to be lied to, but that does not mean we all don’t occasionally resort to telling a lie ourselves. All of us do.
Of course, it’s not OK to lie just because everyone does it, as the result of a lie is often problematic. But you have to learn to keep things in perspective or nothing in your life will ever satisfy you.
Men and women consider different kinds of lying acceptable, because they don’t see things or communicate in the same way. Both genders become outraged, but by different kind of lies. Consider that your reaction may be an over-reaction.
Scientists have been studying lying for ages. Some research shows that men lie more while other research finds that women lie more! However, everyone agrees that men and women lie differently. And that is a big problem because it’s hard to understand each other’s motivation. This starts the ball rolling, and the lack of understanding creates fear. In fact, experts consider most lies a sign of fear, but that can be worked on and worked through.
The cause of lying in your marriage should also be considered. But when your hearts are not connecting, it is rare the lie was made to prevent hurt feelings, such as, “Honey, you look like you lost weight.” It is almost always a defensive lie, like, “I had too much work to do, so I forgot to bring you flowers.”
There are no absolute remedies for lying, and you will be hard pressed to find yourself in any relationship where lies are completely absent. But you can make lies a useful tool instead of becoming a victim of your, or your spouse’s, lies.
One way to look at life is to see everything that happens to you as a neutral event. Indeed, you have the ability to categorize anything you experience in any way you choose. The most successful people in the world are the ones who categorize things in ways that serve them.
Even the most horrible things in life can be re-categorized. Consider what the devout Christians did in the Roman coliseums. They chose to view their impending torture and death as a service to their Lord and completely turned their suffering around, seeing their persecutors as their brothers.
They re-framed the situation as an opportunity to pray for their brothers, rather than give in to the kind of fear and anger a “normal” person would feel. By having a better perspective, they rose above their circumstances.
You can do the same. You may not be a saint who can, or should, become a martyr. Marriage is not for martyrs anyway. But you can use the lies you and your spouse tell as triggers—as reminders—to take a different approach. You shouldn’t assume a lie is an attack. After all, the person who lies is weak at the moment. They do not intend to hurt you. They just want to escape imagined consequences.
So when you hear a lie coming from your husband or wife, pull back and ask yourself some questions:
- Why are they afraid?
- Am I giving them the space to make mistakes, or am I too quick to criticize?
- Is this lie all that serious?
- Does this lie really reduce them? Aren’t they just scared?
When you are lovingly objective, you will not be defensive or hurt. You will be in control and secure.
Lies don’t kill marriages. But your reactions can do more harm than the lies.
Lies are not great forms of communication, and couples should strive for authentic relationships. But don’t let a lie break your connection. Learn how to create your marriage, of course, but as you learn, don’t be victims of your mistakes. Learn and grow, and focus on the good. If you take your marriage seriously enough to make it a great one, everything will work out.