Jeanne told her husband Paul a huge, gigantic lie. She didn’t intend to, but she did. Things have been tense in their marriage since Paul was laid off from his job 6 months ago. Well, things were already tense between the two of them and this added stress didn’t help.
While backing out of their garage one day last month, Jeanne accidentally scraped the side of the car. She didn’t want to hear Paul yell at her and remind her that they don’t have the money to fix the car so she took out a credit card– in her name only– and had the damage repaired.
The trouble is, Paul discovered the statement for Jeanne’s secret credit card and is angrier than ever. He’s started to question and doubt everything Jeanne says. Their marriage is worse than before.
As well as you know that lying is bad for your love relationship or marriage and as many times as you were taught that lying is unethical…you still do it.
The lies you told your partner may seem like no big deal or maybe you don’t even consider them to be lies. Even if you were aware that lying would be a huge betrayal and risk to your relationship, you did it anyway.
And then you got caught.
Your partner opened a letter addressed to you, answered your phone, looked at your messages or email or simply put clues together and figured out that you hid or altered the truth. Understandably, when your lie was discovered, trust was damaged and possibly broken.
A sincere apology from you is required. In order to begin to rebuild trust and re-connect with your partner, you’re going to need to show that you are genuinely sorry about lying and then make a commitment to change.
There are many ways an apology can go wrong and cause even more damage. Avoid mistakes like: Saying “I’m sorry” in an angry or sarcastic tone of voice; Negating your apology with excuses; Turning the blame around on your partner; Apologizing but then continuing to lie.
Instead, make your apology really count.
Take some time to get clear within yourself about why you lied. Try to look beyond the shame or guilt you might be feeling and uncover what you were trying to get or avoid by altering the truth.
You may have lied because you were….
- worried about disappointing your partner
- afraid of what his reaction will be to the truth
- wanting to continue a behavior that is not okay with your partner
- trying to avoid an uncomfortable conversation or an argument
- attempting to pretend to be something you’re not
- getting back at your partner for her lying
- enjoying being mysterious and having some secrets
If you want to stop the destruction of your relationship, you’ve got to understand what motivates you to lie and then make a change that will help you be more honest– even when it’s difficult.
When you sit down with your partner, be specific and take full responsibility for your choice to lie. Maybe you thought you had a compelling reason to lie. Maybe you didn’t feel like you had another choice but to lie. Nevertheless, you did lie and your lying hurt your partner and compromised trust and connection.
Owning the fact that you lied is an essential part of repairing the damage and healing trust.
Use words like, “I’m sorry that I lied about_____.” or “I apologize for hiding _____ from you.” or “I feel so sad and I regret that I lied.”
Make time later on in the conversation to offer more information to your partner about why you lied. Continue to take responsibility for lying and say, “I’d like you to know why I lied. Are you willing to listen?”
Prove that you’re changing.
Without a doubt, the time following your apology can make or break your relationship. Show with consistent actions that you are making significant changes. Be transparent to provide your partner with proof that you no longer have anything to hide– especially if you cheated.
Create agreements that will support you in being more honest and open in the future. Address the reasons why you lied, such as your partner’s jealous or angry reactions.
Depending on your situation, you could say, “Will you agree to just listen to me and not yell when I tell you something you don’t like?” or “Will you create some agreements with me to help me feel safe to be completely honest with you?” (Then suggest an example that is specific).
When you’re caught in a lie, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. With a willingness to learn from your own behavior and persistence in making real changes, this could be a positive turning point for you and your partner.