We donât want to lie. We love our partner. We understand a good relationship is built on trust, and that trust depends on our honesty. But sometimes we lie anyway. Why do we do it?
For one thing, weâre not perfect. Our partners expect certain behavior from us (and we from them) and when we failâbecause nobodyâs perfectâwe lie about it. What are our choices? We can tell our partners that we didnât live up to their expectations, and that would disappoint them. Make them feel bad, and weâd feel bad too. We donât want to do that so we make something up thatâs a more acceptable story. We lie.
The trouble is, we feel the need to lie about things that would upset our partner. For example, if your partner is concerned about you flirting with other people, and you develop a flirtatious relationship with someone of the opposite sex at work, you feel the need to deceive. Because if it didnât bother your partner, you could tell the truth. There would be no negative consequences and therefore no reason to lie.
One thing you can do to encourage your partner to tell the truth is to behave reasonably when you hear bad news. If you berate your partner, make a scene, scream and shout or pout and sulk; you are discouraging your partner from being honest with you. Itâs just so much easier for the one you love to deliver bad news when you receive it with aplomb. That doesnât mean you have to like the news. You can, and perhaps should, express disappointment if thatâs how you feel. But if you consistently fly off the handle, youâll never get the opportunity to say how you feel because youâll never get the bad news. That may, in fact, be what you want, as indicated by your behavior. But if you want the truthâwhich canât always be roses and musicâthen you have to react reasonably to it.
In any relationship, one person has more power than the other. Not all the time, and not in every area, but thereâs always some kind of an imbalance. For example, if one partner makes more money than the other, that partner usually gets more say in how the money is spent, and thus, that partner has more power. If the lower income earner spends money on something the power partner would disapprove of, then the purchase may well be hidden or lied about. But it doesnât have to relate to money. If one partner is more social than the other, then the social partner often has more power in how the coupleâs time is spent. The powerless partner may beg off an event with a lie. For example, âI have a monster headache. Iâm afraid I canât go to the opera tonight.â
Sometimes itâs easier for your partner to lie to you, and if it happens too often, perhaps counseling is in order. If you want the truth, make sure you behave in a way that makes it easier for your partner to tell you the truth than a lie.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.