We don’t 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, we’re not perfect. Our partners expect certain behavior from us (and we from them) and when we fail—because nobody’s perfect—we lie about it. What are our choices? We can tell our partners that we didn’t live up to their expectations, and that would disappoint them. Make them feel bad, and we’d feel bad too. We don’t want to do that so we make something up that’s 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 didn’t 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. It’s just so much easier for the one you love to deliver bad news when you receive it with aplomb. That doesn’t mean you have to like the news. You can, and perhaps should, express disappointment if that’s how you feel. But if you consistently fly off the handle, you’ll never get the opportunity to say how you feel because you’ll never get the bad news. That may, in fact, be what you want, as indicated by your behavior. But if you want the truth—which can’t always be roses and music—then 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 there’s 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 doesn’t 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 couple’s time is spent. The powerless partner may beg off an event with a lie. For example, “I have a monster headache. I’m afraid I can’t go to the opera tonight.”
Sometimes it’s 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.