What to Do When Your Spouse is a Liar
- Dr. David B. Hawkins The Marriage Recovery Center
- 2021 6 Dec
Honesty and trust are more important than we generally think. We often assume people tell us the truth. We count on them saying what they mean and meaning what they say.
Anything less than complete honesty will begin to erode trust. As trust erodes, the possibility for genuine intimacy and attachment erodes as well.
Intimacy has often been described as “into me see.” But what if “into me see” is filled with deception? What if we are never sure if we are receiving the truth? We question the other person and begin to question ourselves as well because we are never quite sure if what we hear is the truth or not. This process is “crazymaking” and extremely debilitating.
Fortunately, we never have to tolerate a difficult situation. As Solomon wrote: “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”
Consider Shelley’s story:
Dear Dr. David,
What can I do when I catch my husband lying to my face? He has been doing it for almost 20 years and God has put it on my heart to say it is not okay and hold him accountable when he does. I have prayed but not sure where or what to do next.
Notice that this is not the first time Shelley has encountered this problem and it is indeed time for her to take more decisive action. While this situation is painful for her, getting angry and moving past a pervasive problem will only perpetuate it---a lesson for all of us.
Let’s consider what Shelley (and others) might do in this most challenging situation:
First, ensure you have your mate’s attention.
We can never have an important conversation unless we have first created an environment of rapport, relationship and relevance. What does this mean? It means that in order to be taken seriously we must sit down with that person face to face, ensure that we have their complete attention, and ask if they are in a place to fully hear us and consider what we are saying. They must convey an attitude of openness, free from defensiveness and open to change.
Second, share feelings about the deception.
Having secured their attention and confident you will be seen as speaking something relevant to them, share your feelings. Keep your message simple, straightforward and sincere. Share your feelings, free from judgment, shame, or accusation. Less words are typical better than more, and avoid any temptation to lecture.
Third, secure an agreement about honesty and deception.
After sharing your feelings and having a sense they have heard you, secure an agreement for going forward. Change will not just happen. Emphasize that deception in your marriage creates distrust which will most certainly impact trust and intimacy.
Fourth, agree on a plan for change.
Determine a specific plan for change, most likely involving both individual and couple’s counseling. Don’t assume a problem will simply dissipate—it will not. That is magical thinking. Character change, which is what is needed with a longstanding problem, requires full accountability for a problem, validating the impact on you and depth counseling.
Finally, create an accountability plan.
Discuss a plan whereby you have new openness and accountability. Your relationship must change based upon the area of deception. A relationship with transparency and full openness and disclosure is needed for change to occur. A heart change on the part of your mate will reflect a willingness to live with new levels of accountability and transparency. A heart change is the beginning of character change.
Have you experienced deception in your marriage? How have you dealt with it? What has worked and what has not worked? We would like to hear from you. We at The Marriage Recovery Center are prepared to walk with you through any challenges. Please feel free to contact me at MarriageRecoveryCenter.com or email us at email@example.com.
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