When Your Partner Lies To You

We’ve all told lies in our lives; little ones and maybe big ones.  We’ve all learned the consequences of getting caught.  Many of us realize it’s better to tell the truth the first time around than worry about the lie we told and wonder if the truth will emerge eventually.

When we tell lies we hold secrets from the ones we love.  We might even think we are protecting them from something that will hurt them.  We figure in our mind that not telling them is probably better.  Telling them would cause them pain and we don’t want to hurt them because we really care about their feelings.  Or maybe we’re just afraid of what will happen to us if we tell the truth about something difficult.  Maybe we’re worried that we will be in trouble and people will get angry with us.

Not telling the truth takes skill, and thought.  The person telling the lie has to think about making up a story where all the pieces are plausible.  They have to make sure there are no holes an insightful person could see through.  It can be stressful on the lie teller.  He or she also has to remember the lie, and the details, and not forget what order he or she put them in.  That’s stressful too.

So that’s one side, the person telling the lie.  But what about the person who is lied to?  What happens there?

The one who is told the lie may feel angry, betrayed and ridicules, like they’ve been made a fool of.  It can be belittling and crazy making.  Some people believe that a lie, no matter how small, is a broken trust.  Many people believe that trust is one of the cornerstones in a relationship and when trust is broken they are shaken to the core because what they had believed about their relationship as fundamental is now crumbling underneath them.  They believed there would be truth between each other.  When there is a lie, that truth becomes a joke.

So how do couples heal when there are lies that sit between them?

First, each person deserves to explain and have the other person listen to his and her feelings.  It feels terrible to have been lied to.  It feels terrible to hold secrets and lie to your partner.  Both positions need understanding and compassion.  The one who lied has to become aware of the pain he or she caused the other.  That doesn’t mean you have to fall on your sword and grovel for the next year.  The liars’ job is to realize that his or her actions caused pain.  Once they realize this then he or she should begin to cultivate compassion for their mate by understanding the hurt they caused.  An apology is part of healing, but it’s more than saying I’m sorry.  Without understanding the depth of the injury; the loss of trust, the embarrassment and the anger, an apology can feel meaningless.

When the injured is heard he or she can feel validated by the partner because the partner really gets the pain he or she caused.  At that time the injured person may want to try and understand what led the partner to tell the lie in the first place.  They may discover that the partner was trying to protect them, only the lie turned out to be a clumsy attempt.

What can develop is true communication, connection between the couple.  Lies are an indication that there’s room for improvement.  In most cases when there is a lie people react by turning away from their partner.  It’s natural to protect yourself when hurt.  But turning toward your partner with understanding and compassion could just bring you exactly what you are after… real closeness and truth.

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Learning How to Be Good To Ourselves

Many of us are caregivers, and it’s a job we do very well.  Often we forget that WE need caregiving.  Read my article in the OC Parenting Magazine and you’ll learn how to take care of yourself.


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Why Love Isn’t Enough

When people get together they feel love; forever,
unwavering, majestic love.  It’s the kind
many of us dream about from our youth; the flowery, perfection we imagined love
to be when we were kids.

We all have some idea of what love should look and feel like.  If we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to couple.  But many of us have a deeply held belief that this is all we need to sustain a relationship.  I call that an unconscious belief, developed from a child’s vision of what love is.

Nothing wrong with believing in love and it would be perfect if our partners had the same vision as ours. Then we could romp together in our fantasy of what life is supposed to be like.  But that’s not usually the case. We select people who come from different ideas and backgrounds. And it’s safe to say our partners have their ideas about what love is supposed to look and feel like too.

So where does that leave most couples?  Wishing their partners could join them in their vision and automatically understand and deliver what they need.  In many relationships people sit in the belief that if their partners truly loved them, they would be able to give them what they needed to feel great. Because there is love in the relationship that should be enough for the relationship to be the best ever… only it isn’t.

I work with a lot of couples who love each other.  But it may have been a long time since they’ve felt the closeness each other they remember.  They know it existed once, but it feels like a long time ago and they don’t know how to get it back.  While no two couples are the same, the issues they struggle with are often similar.

What’s missing from most relationships is the understanding; real understanding of what sits in the way and blocks the love, and an understanding of what is missing in each person’s life from the other. Once each person becomes aware of what stands in the way of his or her tenderness toward the other, then the couple can discover what each person wants from the other. When this is realized each person can learn how to ask the partner for what they would like, instead of hoping the partner would just deliver. 

This builds true understanding and that builds compassion and compassion may just be the adult version of the child’s idea of love.

Send your comments to linda@lindanusbaum.com

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Looking Underneath

There are many reasons why people seek counseling.  One of the most common is that they are unhappy in their lives.  They know something doesn’t feel right, and they long for a time, place, and feeling of something better.  They can’t really describe this place but they know they want it.

These clients I’m describing are all successful.  They’ve built something with their lives; careers, relationships, families.  They are rooted in what they do and their responsibilities. They may be proud of their accomplishments too. Yet sometimes they say they feel like a fraud because of a hollow place inside.

I know, having changed careers to become a therapist, I’ve gone through my own challenges trying to find that better, more peaceful place that many of my clients seek.  I know it’s hard to look underneath everything you have constructed and you know to be true and have lived for the last 20, 30, or 40 years.

But unhappiness is a terrific motivator.  When people are unhappy in their lives they will do what they do best, look for a way out of the unhappiness.  Often this search leads to counseling and that path leads to understanding the self.

What does the person want out of life?  What makes the person happy?  What would the person like to change?  These are simple questions.  Yet the answers are sometimes very hard to know, because most people are too busy with their lives to really look. 

So look now at your life.  Are you in a place that feels right?  Are you content?  Notice I’m not asking if you are happy.  I know that this feeling is fleeting.  It’s great to be happy.  Finding what makes you happy is what I am interested in and that journey takes practice.  It starts with you saying yes to you.

If you live in a place where you say to yourself “I should” before everything you do, I’ll bet you feel tired and overworked.  If your way of being consists of saying “no” a lot it’s possible you experience anxiety and stress.  In both these cases “self care” is probably on the back burner.  Self care; I talk about this a lot.  You may be saying to yourself “I don’t have time to be selfish.”

Sometimes we don’t know how to honor ourselves with self care.  We may be experts at helping others, and we may be accustomed to putting our needs last.  By the time we get around to taking care of ourselves we are exhausted, and we might even get mad. 

I like to help people learn to attend to their needs, wants and desires.  That doesn’t mean you have to ignore everything you already do in your life.  It just means you make you a priority to you.  You learn how to take care of yourself in a way that feels good to you.  This is where you grow, like developing a new muscle.  And you know that unhappiness I talked about earlier?  When people find a way to take care of themselves they feel less unhappiness. 

Feeling content, grounded and peaceful, I haven’t met a person yet who doesn’t long for it.

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Saying What Needs to be Said

It happens to all of us.
We hold on to our thoughts and don’t say them because we are afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings. We
stuff them down inside and just stay silent. We may grouse about them later with someone else, but most of the time
we don’t ever say what we intended to the person who we wanted to say it to.

If this sounds like you, you are not alone.  This is one of the most common themes I come across while helping people in counseling. Most people are aware they do this, and they are not sure how to change it because it’s something they have always done…put their feelings away and take care of the other person first.

This isn’t a bad way to be, unless you are the person who isn’t saying what needs to be said and you are not getting what you need out of life. Then there might be some resentment building up because others are not realizing you haven’t had your say. When you find yourself in this condition for a long time you may be getting angry at the people who don’t seem to understand you.  Then we have some work to do, and you can do it in three steps.

The first step in changing this dynamic is to REALIZE that you are not saying things when you feel them. I know there’s a real fear of something or you would already be speaking your mind. We will get to that later. The first step is to just become aware that you hold in your thoughts and feelings inside yourself and stay silent.

Once you can understand that you do this often we can move on. But to really get this you need to be in a situation where you don’t speak your mind and can then actually say to someone, “Wow, I thought… and I didn’t say anything.”

Once you can actually utter what it is that you aren’t doing, then we can look at what’s holding you back from doing it.  It’s likely there is a fear about something.  I believe it’s something from long ago in your past.  You might have grown up being told that you don’t share your thoughts and feelings; maybe you had people in your life that yelled at you if you spoke your mind, or it could be that you were not taught to speak up about your needs and wants.  What ever the reason, you probably got good training and now you are an expert at not speaking what you feel and think.

As an adult you might now worry how other people will react to you if you speak out.  The second step is to gain an understanding of what you believe will happen if you do speak your mind. Will people leave? Will people hit? Will people yell?  Think about what you are worried about.  Try and imagine the worst reaction someone would make and then consider if you can handle it.  If the answer is yes we move on to step three.

Next time you feel and think something, instead of stuffing it you are going to take a risk, try a new behavior and just SAY IT!  You will survive the person’s reaction because you have already considered it. 

That’s how we get rid of fear and make changes.

No one said it would be easy.  I know it’s hard because you haven’t done it before.  I also know it’s worth it.  You will feel heard, perhaps for the first time, and that’s a new feeling you can’t afford not to experience.

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