There’s nothing better than having a partner that you have full confidence and trust in. You know that they are true, faithful, loyal, and will always have your back. You talk about everything and share with each other all the good bad and in between of your daily lives together. The opposite of this trusting relationship is one where you might withhold details from your partner, or even tell what you might think of as “little white lies.” I call them deadly little white lies, or more simply, lies. Nothing will kill your relationship faster than secrecy and lies. Deception in any form is deadly to trust.
Most of these little white lies come from fear. You tell half-truths or omit details because you’re afraid that your partner will be upset if you tell all. You justify this by thinking you’re protecting your partner and you’re protecting your relationship. This can become a habit, a game you play with yourself and it can actually become addictive. The thrill of putting something over on your partner, and the thrill of doing something illicit when all the while you’re deceiving yourself that you’re not doing anything harmful. This type of behavior starts with those little white lies, but even those can erode your relationship when (not if, when) you’re discovered. Just as with any kind of deception, you end up having to lie, and lie again to cover up the previous lie until you have dug yourself into a pretty deep hole. What do you do then?
I’ve met couples who have huge lies and deception between them. The deeper we delve into these issues, the more we find that we have to unravel this “tangled web” of lies. It may have started innocently enough for example, a woman who took the grocery money and bought a new dress. Seems innocent enough, right? She lied about the dress, saying it cost much less that it actually did. This began a pattern of lies and deceptive behavior that came out she was actually shopping and hiding her purchases from her husband. When she’d show up with a new blouse or a piece of jewelry, she would lie about where that came from and about the cost; digging herself in deeper and deeper until she felt like she couldn’t stop lying and she couldn’t come clean because she’d been deceiving her partner for so long. When it came out in counseling her partner was shocked and felt betrayed. His response was that he didn’t care about her buying clothes, it was that she had kept all of these secrets and carried on the deception for so long, telling more lies to cover her tracks. This was making him question if he could trust anything she said and that he felt like their relationship was all lies.
The feelings that arise in this type of situation are questioning and doubt. What else is a lie? Are you lying when you say you love me? When you say you’re committed to me? Are you lying when you say you desire me? Everything about the relationship comes into question. This doubt and insecurity will destroy the relationship.
There’s the idea that “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.” This is absolutely not true. If you’re telling lies, (no matter the reason), you’re eroding the trust in your relationship. You’re putting up a barrier between you and your partner and that’s the last thing you want to do. It’s much better to come clean and face the truth of what you want to hide. Trust that your partner loves you no matter what. They may be angry or upset about that thing you disclose to them, but if you are honest and truthful and live your relationship out in the open, you can work through it and your relationship will be strong enough to handle this bump in the road. Far better you deal with it outright, than to dig that hole of deadly deception.
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Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters.His weekend workshop, Two Days: Seven Conversations has become a popular venue for many to set off on their journey of connectedness. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channeland by subscription in Stuart’s Daily Notes.Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. He lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona.