Those Lying Eyes: The Importance of Truth In Marriage
While there’s plenty of deception at the center of TV and movie plots, it’s not often people “in the real world” enter a relationship or marriage with the intention of lying to or manipulating their spouse. Humans, in general, like to be considered as honest and trustworthy, especially to those they care about most.
However, while we all like to be perceived as truthful, most of us have lied to our spouses over the course of our marriage — most of us more than once. And most of us have suffered the agony of getting caught.
Now, if we all enter marriage intending to be truthful, and we all want to keep trust strong and healthy in our marriages, then why does this happen? Below we’ll look at some motivations behind the lies we tell each other, along with reasons we should tell the truth:
The “Little White Lie” Is Easier
It’s funny, but sometimes lies come out of pure and simple laziness. After a long day, you may want to avoid an explanation, shorten a story or avoid a conflict, and it seems easier to skip over details or change them altogether to simply move past a situation.
The danger here is that even small lies can add up if told over time. A single lie can snowball from something trivial to something genuinely hurtful to your marriage. While the situation would have been no big deal to begin with, the simple fact it was lied about leads to pain and distrust. Don’t lie about the small things. It isn’t worth the strife it may cause your spouse.
You Don’t Want to Hurt Your Spouse’s Feelings
From the classic “No, honey. You don’t look fat in that dress,” to the “I just LOVE your tuna casserole”, there are common lies that are told everyday by husbands (and wives) all over the world. The motivation behind these lies is clear: it may hurt the other person’s feelings if they’re told the truth and, in turn, lead to conflict. These are both clearly things that we tend to avoid.
One of the most common things couples lie about? Sex. Both partners may be wanting to try other things, do something different or may be unsatisfied with their physical relationship, but often neither person is willing to be the one to say it. Not only do they not want to hurt the other person, but they fear conflict, can’t predict what their partner might say or feel about their request, and / or they feel “awkward” asking for what they want.
The result? Over time sex becomes even less enjoyable, happens less frequently and a wall is built between the couple. The longer this wall is allowed to build and fortify itself, the harder it is to tear down. Talking about sex is a natural part of marriage – know that it’s okay to bring up gently and discuss.
We have a couple pieces of advice when it comes to “the avoidance of hurt feelings” in general. First of all, don’t ask a question you don’t want a truthful answer to. When asking your spouse how you look, make sure you want a genuine answer, and not just a boost to your self-esteem. It’s not fair to be angered by constructive criticism if you’ve asked for it.
Many genuinely want to make sure an outfit is flattering, a diet is working or their spouse is pleased with their physique and, if these things aren’t true, they genuinely want to know so they can better themselves. Make sure this is your motivation.
And be sure, when answering such a question, that you do so both honestly and gently (if it’s not what the person may be wanting to hear).
- “How do you like this casserole?”
Answer: “I LOVE it when you roast chicken, but this casserole turned out a bit dry. Thanks for making it, though – I know it takes time.”
- “How do I look in this dress?”
Answer: “You know, I like that red skirt you have better.”
- “Was that good for you?”
Answer: “You know I love being with you. And we should try something else. I would like it if we _________.”
In these examples, honest feedback is provided in constructive ways – Ways that can move the couple past the issue, rather than staying “stuck” in a pattern of dishonesty.
The Truth is Too Hard to Face
Have you made a tremendous financial mistake? Are you struggling with addiction? Do you feel like you’re falling out of love with your spouse? Are you having an affair?
There are some big lies we tell each other, as well. These are told to avoid pain and because they seem easier, like the lies above. They are also often told out of fear: fear of anger, fear of accepting the truth and fear of losing the other person.
Here’s the thing about the bigger lies: They often do a lot more damage than telling the truth. When something like lost finances, an affair or an addiction is going on, your spouse will often suspect it. Continuing to lie about it not only makes your spouse feel that they can not trust you…. it makes them feel like they can not trust themselves. Cannot trust their own instincts. The anxiety, the fear they’re losing their minds and the pain this causes is immeasurable.
Your spouse deserves to know who they are married to. It’s not fair to waste their time or to take away their right to decide how they want to respond to these tough issues.
These lies are often told for yet another reason (and a tough one at that): selfishness. You don’t want the conflict. You don’t want to be alone. But you have no right make decisions for your spouse. So don’t keep them in the dark. Be honest, and let them decide how they want to respond to the tough things you have to tell them.
Telling your spouse the truth isn’t always easy – but you don’t have to do this alone. If you need help improving the honesty in your relationship or addressing some of these bigger issues discussed above, there is hope. Contact us with questions or to make an appointment – we’ll be happy to help you bring honesty and love back to your marriage.
More Articles on Marriage:
- Love Languages: How to Improve Communication in Relationships | Grant Stenzel, MS LCPC
- How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Marriage | Grant Stenzel, MS LCPC
- How to Handle Conflict With Your Spouse | Grant Stenzel, MS LCPC [Video]
- The Five Pillars of a Healthy Christian Marriage | Steve Wright