Truth & Lies In Marriage
“Truth & Lies In Marriage” is part 6 in the “7 Steps To a Healthy Marriage.” The phrase, “Honesty is the best policy,” is usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Actually, Sir Edwin Sandys first wrote the sentiment in 1599. His interest was more political. Still, the truth is the truth! Here’s a bit of truth for you, everybody lies. You might disagree, but it’s true. Consider this statement, “It’s a fact that everyone lies. According to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 60% of people can’t go 10 minutes without lying. Another study found that the average person lies at least once a day. While some lies are small and harmless, others can have serious consequences” (Schiller, 2023, “Lying Statistics & Facts: How Often Do People Lie?”). Sounds harsh doesn’t it? After all, most people try to be truthful. All of this bothered me so I began researching facts about deception and truthfulness,
Truth & Lies In Marriage – A Lie is a Lie
In my research, I came across the Loss Prevention Magazine (LPM), a journal focused on helping retail security professionals manage loss. Employee theft and mismanagement are significant concerns for any business. Our concern is about the damage dishonesty creates in a marriage, but the basic rationale for lying is the same. In truth & lies in marriage – a lie is a lie. LPM’s website features an article titled “Interview and Interrogation Training: The Five Types of Lies,” (Wicklander-Zulawski and Associates, February 18, 2022). The article lists the following different types of lies:
- Lies of Denial. This type of lie will involve a person simply saying that they were not involved when they were.
- Lies of Omission. A lie of omission is often referred to as the “lie of choice,” as the person using this method can blame the interviewer for not asking the right question.
- Lies of Fabrication. Fabrication is typically the most difficult type of lie for an individual to tell; the dishonest person needs to make up their “facts” as they are telling them, which of course makes it harder to remember later.
- Lies of Minimization. Minimization involves attempts to distort the truth by making statements like “It was an accident” or “It was already damaged, though” in an attempt to minimize what they’ve done.
- Lies of Exaggeration. This type of lie is similar to the lie of minimization in that there is a distortion of the truth; however, the subject will overstate what happened. For example, they might say something like, “Yeah, I am responsible for all the losses here.”
Truth & Lies In Marriage – To Lie Or Not To Lie?
In the counseling community, there are varying opinions about truth & lies in marriage – to lie or not to lie. Some believe it’s acceptable to lie as long as the lie is for a beneficial purpose to the spouse or the marriage. Still, others believe that anything short of absolute truth is a breach of trust. There are many reasons for these differences of opinion, such as different personalities, how long a couple has been together, whether there has been a serious breach of trust in the past, the nature of a couple’s parent’s marriage, religious or spiritual expectations, or a spouse’s role or status in the community.
Why Do People Lie?
Some feel it’s okay to lie if a woman asks a man if her dress makes her look fat. In another instance, 1 partner may ask the other (on the way to an event or as they are trying to fall asleep) why they have been so aloof lately. Is it easier to say, “I’ve been so busy, I’m sorry,” than to tell the real reason? Perhaps that person hasn’t thought it through well enough to know their feelings. Is that so wrong? Why, then, do married people lie to each other? There are quite a few reasons: Fear of hurting the spouse, fear of rejection, fear of losing the spouse, fear of being seen as a liar, fear of other people finding out, fear of introspection, fear of destroying trust. Do you see a pattern? The primary reason for lying is fear. There are, however, more pathological reasons as well. Some people lie just to see if they can get away with it. For others, it’s a habit they can’t break. Then there is the narcissist who gaslights their spouse (using lies and fear to manipulate someone).
“Love…rejoices with the truth”
Truth & marriage is a simple concept, yet it is quite complex in its inner workings. The truth is healthier for the individual as well as the couple. Being committed to telling the truth is an issue of character and must be shaped in childhood. If lying is not corrected when we are children, we will likely carry it into adulthood. I Corinthians 13: 6 says, “Love…rejoices with the truth.” Biblically speaking, love and truth are woven together. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John also wrote, “God is love” (I John 4:8). Truth and love – love and truth; they are bound up in each other because they are bound up in God. Ephesians 4:15 reinforces this concept of “Speaking the truth in love.” Not everyone understands marriage to be a holy or spiritual union. Therefore, truth and love may not be essential in their relationship. However, that does not make the concept any less true.
Marriage and family therapist Brandon Coussens, counsels couples in the areas of trust and intimacy. One of his articles focuses on the ways that dishonesty destroys marriages. They are as follows:
- Lying destroys trust.
- Lying prevents deeper, empowering conversation.
- Lying leads to more lying and deception.
- Dishonesty can be extremely painful extending healing time
- Lying portrays selfishness
- Avoids long-term damage
- Builds trust
- Diminishes the need to withdraw
- Allows for deeper connection
- Portrays selflessness
What if telling the truth hurts my marriage?
“The truth never breaks up a relationship”
We have touched on some challenging issues in this article. The ideas that all people lie, when and how to tell the truth, and the difference between secrecy and privacy, can stabilize a shaky relationship if both parties are willing. It is also true that some marriages will not survive the truth. However, the truth never breaks up a relationship. Instead, it is the actions of 1 or both partners and the immaturity or unwillingness to face the truth and remain committed. Cases where couples might not or should not stay together involve domestic violence, infidelity, and abandonment.
Truth & Marriage – Restoring Trust
Many couples can recovered and thrived after dealing with dishonesty if both partners are willing and committed to the recovery process. Consulting a marriage counselor or a pastor might be necessary and both are willing and able to help. Finally, forgiveness must be complete. When the guilty partner asks for forgiveness, takes responsibility for their actions, and forsakes the offending behavior, the innocent partner will have to be willing to forgive completely for the marriage to be healthy. For truth & marriage – restoring trust usually takes time, but when it is restored, both the husband and the wife must leave the past behind. I Peter 4:8 reminds us, “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.”