Can we all agree lying is a shameful thing?
Are we all on the same page there?
I mean, a liar is essentially a dishonest person, right?
Hold it now, not so fast!
Yes, the act of telling a falsehood or an “un-truth” as some would describe it, is not a desirable quality in most cases.
When we stoop to telling a lie for the sake of advancing our own hidden agenda…. well, that is clearly deceitful.
If you suspect your husband or wife of being two faced, taking liberties with the truth…. just know that you are not alone in that department.
One of the most alarming lies one spouse will tell another revolves around faithfulness. When cheating is involved, the marriage can go south in a hurry and questions as to how you should feel about the whole matter will dominate your life. In the post below, I discuss this problem and offer some solutions:
What becomes more problematic is when your spouse goes from being a fibber that equivocates on small matters to a full fledged, practiced liar bent on white washing every version of truth.
We will explore the different types of relationship lies and what motivates couples to lie to each other.
You might be surprised at what you learn!
Liars Are Everywhere!
I know quite a few husbands and wives that tell terrible lies.
And likewise, I know liars that are terrible at lying. But we should be careful not to condemn your spouse for their lying ways too soon or with too much sense of righteousness.
After all, we are all liars. You, me, your spouse…we all fall victim to the invisible hand that at times pushes us into the realm of lies.
Borrowing loosely from the bible….
Let he who has never told a lie, cast the first accusation.
Indeed, that is pretty hard for anyone to do without admitting they too have lied about things.
Spouses that deny their deceptive ways are either seriously out of touch with reality or just once again telling another fib.
As all the lies begin to build, you will come to feel that your marriage is broken. You may wonder if you should call it quits or if there is a way to confront all the lying behavior and start over. In the post below I discuss how you can go about lifting your marriage up:
From Where Do Our Lies Originate?
Lying is at the very core of our behavior. It is very often a divisive and destructive pattern of behavior.
Ok…so since I am in a quoting mood, let’s call upon Abe Lincoln for a little sage advice.
If he was to speak on this topic, he would probably say something like….
You totally laughed when you saw that picture of “Honest Abe?”
Anyways, have you often wondered why your husband or wife always seems to lie to you.
Have you worried that it will cause lasting damage to your marriage?
Well, we are going to find about these things and along the way, you will learn some valuable lessons!
The Science Behind Lying Spouses
As with most everything related to marriages and relationships, there is usually a rhyme and reason for how and why things happen.
I like to call upon the sciences to help us navigate these tricky topics.
Over the years, I have come to learn that it is not wise to jump to conclusions about how couples should interact.
I like to merge practical experience with scientific research.
First, you should know that we all have been corrupted by lies since we were small.
Now that does not necessarily excuse some of these whoppers that your loving spouse and partner has told you.
But let’s first seek to understand a bit more about the “why” of lies.
The “Why” Of Lies
Eventually, we will arrive at a point where it will be time to talk about how to reduce deception and dishonesty in marriages.
Trust that I will get you there in due time!
Anyway, let’s get back to the origins of our lying ways. Science suggests that we began bending the truth around age 5.
The thinking was that lies emerged in youngsters as they became more exposed to adults.
But what the latest research reveals is that people begin lying much earlier…as early as 2 years of age.
By 3 years of age, 50% of children have told fibs.
By age 8, every kid has lied.
But these revelations are not all so bad.
The truth, as it turns out, is that lying in children can lead to better cognitive abilities.
It takes creativity and imagination to spin a yarn after all.
So you see, there is always a little silver lining to be found in the murkiest of places!
Look, I don’t want to sugar coat this problem of dishonesty in relationships. It is almost always a problem and results in the erosion of trust.
Remember, a marriage cannot stand if it is erected on a stack of lies.
Unfortunately, within some marriages, lying takes the form of a disease so to speak.
The spouse may be so compelled to lie due to their mental makeup, that their behavior can be best described as pathological.
What is a pathological liar?
If your husband or wife is a pathological liar, then why?
It turns out that the brains of such individuals are different in some ways.
You see, most brains require multiple pathways to orchestrate and construct an untruth. Pathological liars have more pathways.
Their brains are better suited to misguide people.
If your spouse is a pathological liar, it is probably due to them having about 25% more white matter pathways.
Think about it.
To tell a lie, you have to play a sort of mental chess game.
You have to remember the details of what you said and evaluate if that information accurately dovetails with other known facts. It’s a bit of a trapeze act.
Now, if you have more neural and white matter pathways, it becomes easier to tell a lie and get away with it because of the efficient way the deception can be constructed.
Pathological liars tend to be to be more impulsive and with more white matter pathways, they can more easily navigate through the maze of information.
It’s like constructing a puzzle in the mind.
The practiced liar can assemble more of the pieces together, faster.
The Art of Digital Deception
As we poke around in the world of deception in which all spouses participate, we should explore what has changed, if anything, that makes lying more easy.
Well, as it turns out, technology has enabled liars to some degree.
I refer to it as the age of and art of digital deception.
Ever since email, texting, and social media came into our lives, the art of deception has benefited from some new tools.
Back in the old days (so they say), if you were pretending to be sick and skipping out of school, you would call mom and dad in and perform your best coughing and sneezing routine.
It was not always an easy sell!
Of course, Ferris Bueller perfected this routine,
Well, thanks to communication technologies, it is easier to pull off a great many deceptions.
Everything has a price and sometimes you pay twice. Yes, we all love our smart phones and social media has been a godsend.
Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration!
Technology can be wonderful and it’s not cheap if you want all the bells and whistles.
So you pay up, to keep up.
But your computer, smart phone, Twitter and Facebook accounts can all be used as instruments of deception.
And by the way, how can you sort out truth from lies when it comes to online content and texts?
It’s not easy.
Indeed, it’s probably impossible.
Though I will say this about online content. You always have the option to double and triple fact check by reviewing other sources.
But can you be assured that the text message your husband or wife sent you is accurate?
Did they just make up something?
After all, there is no voice inflection to analyze.
You cannot see their face and examine their body language when you comb through their texts.
The Many Colors of Truth
It can be a problem and your spouse can put their own spin on the truth quite easily when using texting or email communications.
You see, when people lie, linguistic patterns change.
Indeed there are ways to examine whether they are telling the truth.
If your spouse is prone to talk around the edges and not give much in the way of details, it is possible they are in the deception mode.
On the other hand, when relationship partners lie to each other, they can also resort to elaborate storytelling.
So pay attention to the extremes in communication, but be careful not to judge too quickly because, quite frankly, ascertaining what is truthful can be a slippery slope.
Just as there are many shades of color, that which is the “truth” is not entirely clear.
Sometimes, we are not dealing with your husband or wife being deceptive or telling untruths, but rather the situation may reflect multi-faceted complexities.
Truth Scanning Tools
Help is on its way for dissecting what is the truth and weeding out the lies.
Scientists tell us that even now there are keyword algorithms that exist in helping us evaluate text so as to ascertain if the information is presented in a deceitful manner.
Imagine having a tool where you could truth scan the latest texts and emails from your spouse or anyone for that matter.
It is not far around the corner as these keyword algorithms get perfected and marketed.
Did you know that wives and husbands lie more to each other on the phone than when they send each other texts or emails?
This is because digital communications provide a record of conversations.
So your spouse consciously or subconsciously realizes they have more risk if they fudge the truth when using email or text.
Though it should be noted that relationship partners tell more lies when texting, than email.
So even now, there are some natural truth scanning tools we can employ.
I remember having a client that simply went ballistic when she examined her husband’s mobile phone and reviewed all of his past calls. Some of them were directed to his Ex.
Yep, there is a fair amount of truth scanning already going on.
Can you spot a Liar?
Are the eyes of your lover the windows into their soul?
Well, perhaps there is some truth to this notion.
Changes in the dilation of the pupil signals when someone is lying. But these changes are small and a very sensitive device is needed to detect pupil dilation.
Our pupils dilate involuntarily when we lie.
So our eyes are a form of a truth machine and the reliability of detecting truth from deception is 85% accurate when using this ocular detection method.
Imagine if your cell phone had an ocular detection device.
How often would you ask your spouse to take such a test?
This too is coming as the next wave of technology will continue to shake up our lives.
Will it be for the good?
Frankly, I would be cautious when it comes to using such technology.
Such lie detection devices, should they become available to the masses, could open up a Pandora’s Box of new problems.
Does Your Spouse Even Know They Are Not Telling the Truth?
I often have clients who contact me asking about why their spouse seems so confused about the truth.
You significant other can be completely certain of what was said or what happened, yet the other marital spouse may have an entirely different memory or understanding of the same event.
How does this happen?
It turns out that false memories can form as a result of brain activity in the hippocampus.
And this seems to happen frequently which would explain some of the confusion a married couple may have around a certain topic or event.
A stored memory can get connected to another memory, thereby resulting in false memories.
The confluence of these different memories merging to become one or a series of edited memories can unfold in such a way that even you husband or wife has no clue they have staked out a claim on a lie.
Is it OK For Couples to Deceive Each Other?
So what’s wrong with a little lie or two?
Perhaps a few little white lies are not so bad. But when the deception becomes the rule, versus the exception, dysfunction rules the day.
Sorry to tell you, but lying in relationships is rampant and surprisingly common. It’s a complex and seemingly unpredictable phenomenon.
A 1996 study by Bella Depaulo, Phd., found that people lie about twice a day on average.
Over a day, both men and women deceive those they socialize or interact with about 30% of the time.
Hopefully you are not rolling your eyes right now wondering just how many falsehoods your spouse has told you!
Hang in there.
By the end of this post, I hope to give you some practical advice on how to help your lover walk the straight and narrow.
Unfortunately, some relationships are like magnets for deception and lies. You throw two people together, mix in some ego and fear, add a pinch of chaos, and before you know it, deceit is running rampant.
Few couples are spared, including those between the Husband & Wife, Boyfriend & Girlfriend, or Parent and Child.
Lies covers a wide swath of topics.
Couples lie about the far past, near past, the present moment, and even what is intended in the future.
Couples dating each other lie about 33% of the time when a conversation takes place. Often, a person will stretch the truth to build up one’s ego.
Other times, the root cause of the deception revolves around attraction tactics.
But don’t get too hung up on all these statistics. Your relationship is unique and may or may not reflect these trends.
The good news, is that marriages fare much better. Married couples only lie to each other about 10% of time.
Men tend to lie more about themselves. Women tend to bend the truth to protect someone else’s feelings. Is this ringing a bell for anyone?
Surveys show that 75% of couples in a committed relationship, admit to regularly lying to their partner. So it seems people can lie about certain things, but ironically are comfortable in telling the truth about their lying ways.
Root Causes of Marital Lies
It has been demonstrated that your spouse’s untruthfulness can emerge from several root causes.
It’s not just that your lover lies for the sake of deception. There is usually a telltale reason for why your husband or wife will bend the truth.
Let’s take a look at some of these reasons in order to make some sense of why your significant other may be motivated to deceive.
I think is is important in order to understand the root cause of the untruth and the magnitude of the deception. You see, liars are better understood and possibly easier to forgive when we understand the motivations behind their behavior.
I want you to appreciate the complex landscape around truth telling. You have heard of the saying, “best not to throw out the baby with the bathwater”.
That is partly where I am coming from. Try to take a fuller picture of what is going on with your spouse. To often, a frustrated and disappointed spouse who was lied to will cast their marriage partner into the doghouse.
That should be your last resort.
The Seven Reasons Why Your Spouse Will Lie To Your Face
- To Avoid Confrontation: The catalyst for our lying is found deep inside us and it is called “fear”. Fear can motivate us to do and say some pretty crazy things. Your husband or wife may elect to disguise the truth in order to avoid a disappointing reaction. Avoidance springs forth from fear and can lead to deceit. Or perhaps your husband or wife are fearful that they will get into trouble. I had one client whose husband was petrified to tell his wife about his late night poker game with his close friends. So he would change the times, dates, and locations of these poker outings and make up elaborate reasons for why he had to be away from the house for several hours. When a spouse feels compelled to lie for fear of being found out, these mis-truths can just take on a life of their own and before long, an entire secret world emerges from the web of deceit. So to avoid confrontation, your husband or wife may construct an entire fantasy world.
- To Build Up Oneself (Ego): We all have an ego, right? There is no wrong in pumping up one’s ego a bit. But when we are frequently making up stories or telling fictitious lies to cover up the real truth….well, we are entering into the slippery world of deceit. I have learned from my consultations with clients, that men usually have more of a problem with this then woman. I am not certain why, though I suspect it has a lot to do with cultural expectations. The man is suppose to be the strong one…the winner. So if your husband is stretching the truth to build up his ego, don’t lose too much sleep over it. This becomes much more problematic if the behavior becomes the norm in such a way that you seldom know whether your spouse can be trusted with the truth.
- To Avoid Hurting Someone’s Feelings: This form of lying tends to fall into the white lie category which I think is generally not a big problem. Many of my women clients admit that they will bend the truth or even outright lie in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. They rationalize that by coloring the facts, they are doing a good thing. After all, who wants to make damaging and hurtful comments to someone else, particularly if you are close to them. As with most things in the realm of truth and deception, we need to strike a balance. I believe in many cases, it’s OK to spare someone from unnecessary emotional pain. Now, the “truth purists” will say, “No, we should always tell the truth”. OK, I will tell the whole truth. I believe that advocating that type of thinking is hogwash. There will be occasions when it is very appropriate to roll out a white lie. Why? Because I said so! So there, let the “truth purists” put that in their pipe and smoke it!
- To Serve One’s Own Agenda: I really am not fond of these types of liars. Those who frequently deceive only to advance their own agenda or plan are in my book selfish. Show me a person guided by the principle that their agenda is the only one that matters and I will show you a person who is doomed to have relationship issues. Of course, we all have agendas to some extent and therefore we are all guilty of being self serving. But I am focusing on the degree in which some people can be obsessively devoted to their own agenda. When there is little collaboration and husband and wife are always lying to each other…it’s the marriage that suffers. That should be at the top of each person’s agenda.
- To Avoid Shame: Your husband or wife could also be motivated to tell their lies because they wish to avoid shame. Shame can come in many forms such as belittlement or ridicule. So while this is not a white lie per se, deceptions or outright untruths can emerge from your spouse’s need to save face.
- Delusion Lying: This form of lies is a tough one to talk about. You may not like me much after you read what I have to say. But, I am just trying to be truthful! I think we all suffer from delusions. Yes, I believe that to be true. It is a complicated world out there. What we think are facts and what we wish to be facts is often separated by a very thin line. Facts and beliefs are frequently merged and at times…delusions emerge. So bear in mind that we can delude ourselves and we can be deluded. As a result, certain untruths about things we think we know will arise. What I am saying, just to be clear, is that all of us have an amazing capacity to delude ourselves and we can also be easy prey for others who wish to fool us. Just file that away and try to keep an open mind. Now, there is another form of delusional lying that emerges deep within a person’s frequent need to completely overhaul the known facts about things. I hope your spouse does not fall into this category because it does make for a very troubled marriage. It’s one thing to tell little lies to ourselves and others about things. That is partly an emotional survival mechanism embedded deep in us. It’s an altogether a different thing when we choose to turn clearly known facts upside down to suit our own jagged purposes.
- Habitual Liars: I had a woman contact me the other day to tell me she was convinced her husband was a habitual liar. He lied about everything, she contended. It did not matter the size or seriousness of the mistruth. She stated when her husband had a chance to fib, he took every opportunity deceive. It’s not terribly unusual for your husband or wife to fall under the spell of often telling lies. Such deceit is clearly damaging to a relationship. Sadly, some people that lie with such frequency, may not even be aware of how often they stoop to deception. Their twisted behavior becomes second nature and often very obvious to their significant other.
15 Top Lies Husband and Wives Tell Each other
Spouses pull from all corners of their imagination to lie as they see fit. The root causes, which we described above, serve as triggers for these lies to emerge. What might these untruths look like?
From my vantage point of experience, they are often pretty obvious and cover a wide swath of topics.
They range from small, innocent, or even playful lies to those that are downright awful.
Let’s take a look at some of the common examples I gathered from my clients:
- “I seldom lie to you.”
- “I am not mad at you.”
- “I have already made plans…”
- “I will be ready soon.”
- “I hate you!”
- “The kids must have eaten that last of the dessert.”
- “No, I was not smoking (or drinking).”
- “I don’t need you.”
- “I’ll be to bed soon.”
- “Yep, I took out the trash.”
- “Sure, that is a beautiful outfit.”
- “Back in the day, I was the best…”
- “I quit seeing her (him) years ago.”
- “No worries, all the bills are paid and up to date.”
- “Sure, I believe in God.”
How To Stop Your Spouse From Lying
You can’t completely stop your wife or husband from telling lies.
It is in our make-up to tell little fibs and big whoppers. So accept that. But you can reduce the motivation and frequency of lies, particularly those that potentially can be damaging to your marriage.
Usually, when we are lied to, we tend to freak out. We sometimes act with anger, resentment, and throw the mistruth right back into our husband’s or wife’s face, using the worst accusational tone we can muster up.
Fear is the Driver of Most Lies
I would recommend you use the flip side of the emotional coin. So while many people are quick to react in a negative way, I want you to do the reverse.
Most of the time, when a spouse lashes back in anger when a lie is discovered. That type of reaction does little to prevent lying from re-occurring in the future. Indeed, the “lying spouse” has even less incentive to tell the truth As they process your reaction, they often correctly conclude that if you are told something you don’t like hearing, you will flip out again.
Remember, fear is the driver of most lies.
I would recommend if you are face to face with a suspected or discovered untruth, be calm and rational. Don’t jump out of your skin with rage and condemnation aimed at your spouse.
All you are doing is ramping up the emotion and that is seldom the road to modifying your spouse’s behavior.
Ask open ended questions to entice your husband or wife to open up and tell you the truth. The lie is a withdrawal from your marriage trust account. So we want to address this behavior.
But a very negative and adverse reaction from you, directed at your spouse, is also a withdrawal from the relationship trust account.
Change the “Liar’s” Playing Field
Liars tend to be creatures of routine. They instinctively come to develop a habit of lying about certain things, all too comfortably.
It’s a bit of a game they play in their mind. They find ways to rationalize the lie. The root causes of lies spurs them on to spin new lies as it may suit them.
You need to break the pattern. You need to help your husband or wife find a new and emotionally, healthier habit.
So try to take away the fear factor. If you catch your spouse in a lie, react the opposite of what they would expect. Coax them to reveal the truth.
So, once the truth has been revealed, explore why they felt it necessary to tell the lie. This will help you understand the root cause and it will also help your spouse get more in touch with their feelings. It’s possible your husband or wife are partially deluding themselves. Or perhaps they need to confront their fear.
Then reward you spouse for their truth telling. Go hug them and tell them how much you love them and how you appreciate the risk they took in telling you a difficult truth.
The Lie Injures Both of You
But they should know the lie hurt you. To help them form a new behavioral habit, there needs to be a catalyst.
Don’t use anger or threats. Use empathy and understanding. Let them see that their deceitfulness comes with a price…it injures you and the marriage. Explain to them that ultimately, the lie injures the liar.
Give them some gentle pushback, but the reward from you is the primary lesson they must take out of the encounter.
If you take away their incentive to lie, there will be less lying. You won’t be able to eliminate every future untruth, but this approach can result in a lot more truth telling.
Tell your spouse that every time they lie, but then catch themselves and tell you the truth, they get a special kiss for truth telling.
Reward the good behavior.
Forgive the bad behavior.
Build a bond of trust with your spouse.
Do Not Treat all Lies the Same
Now the approach I described above is far from foolproof. Some lies rise to such a level that behavior modification and kiss and forgive is not the appropriate medicine.
If you are dealing with a serious repeat offender, tell your spouse they are ultimately responsible for learning to stop their frequent lying. It’s a behavior change they have to embrace. Your spouse needs to learn, with your help, to change from a habit of defaulting to a lie to a new behavior where they will feel “safe” in telling the truth.
Research studies show that it takes about 60 days (on average) for people to learn a new habit. But it can be much faster for some or take longer for others.
Not all lies respond to these tactics. Some lies are so bad…such as various forms of betrayal… that there is no surefire, single thing you can do to make it all better. At least not in the short term.
In these cases, something transformative needs to happen to change their behavior or outlook on the relationship. For some lies (e.g. habitual, compulsive liars), drawing the line and practicing zero tolerance is the most effective way to create a transformative change. Marriage counseling and therapy may be necessary if the frequency and severity of the deceit overwhelms the remaining trust between the couple.