By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
It is amazing that even the simplest, smallest of lies erodes the fabric of a relationship. Think about it: if a person is capable of lying to you on something small, what will stop them from lying to you on something larger?
On the other hand, if your mate is capable of lying to you on something large, with broad ramifications, why would they not lie to you on a smaller matter? Trust is decimated by a simple untruth.
Deception in marriage is disastrous! We all know it and yet most of us have lied at one point or another in our lives. We are all aware that lies have a way of being eventually exposed, and yet we still try to get away with it. We know that deception will ruin a relationship, and yet we deceive ourselves into believing that perhaps we can get away with it or, if caught, the impact won’t be significant.
As I counsel couples, deception is often part of the troubled fabric of their marriage. Whether it is something as simple as hiding money or perhaps lying about how much money was spent, or something far more egregious such as an affair, deception send a electric shock wave through the marriage.
Listen to the words of a woman who caught her husband repeatedly lying about the money he spent:
“He lied about things so often that I began to distrust him on everything. When I found I couldn’t trust him, I began pulling away from him. I had to create an emotional barrier so that I wouldn’t hurt so much. I simply don’t trust him. Now our marriage is in real trouble, all because he won’t tell the truth.”
It is no surprise that Solomon had much to say on the matter:
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” (Proverbs 12:22)
“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” (Proverbs 19:1)
Why do we lie? The simplest answer is that we are ashamed of something we have done and hope to not have to answer for it. We have done something hurtful and don’t want to have to sit with that healthy shame. If we have practiced lying, and gotten away with it, the habit will be even harder to break. Again, however, the consequences of not breaking the habit will be more and more severe.
Has your marriage been marred by deception? Here are some strategies for healing:
First, make full and complete amends for deception. Dishonesty is terribly damaging—even seemingly small and innocuous lies. The one who has been deceptive must make full and complete amends for their dishonesty. This means taking responsibility for the deception, validating the horrific impact of that deception and then being willing to make amends for the damage they have done. This may, and probably will, include altering their life so that they willingly live by complete transparency and accountability;
Second, deal with character defects that give rise to dishonesty. Deception doesn’t occur out of thin air. Deception occurs in a troubled heart and character that allows for and justifies deception. Change will not be easy and will require hard work with a therapist to uproot the deception.
Third, determine to live by brutal honesty. The deceptive one must now live by the principle of ‘rigorous honesty.’ In such a world of transparency and accountability, deception has no place to grow. They must go overboard in being transparent, aware they must rebuild trust one action at a time.
Fourth, create an environment where honesty is practiced. Both partners in the marriage must espouse total transparency and rigorous honesty. Both must determine they will ‘shrink their world’ so that all can be seen and known. Both will create a safe place for honesty to flourish. There is no place for secrecy or deception to occur.
Finally, reinforce honesty. As you practice rigorous honesty, it will become easier and easier. The benefits of honesty will be enjoyed by both people. As you appreciate each other’s efforts, it becomes easier to be honest. One truthful action built upon another begins to rebuild trust.
Has deception been an issue in your marriage? Would you like to heal beyond deception and create a place for rigorous honesty? If you would like help, we are here for you. Please send responses to me at [email protected] and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives.
Publication date: September 6, 2016