We’ve all lied at some point. Maybe it was big; maybe it was small. We’ve all learned the consequences of getting caught. Then we realize it’s better to be honest than wonder whether or when the truth will emerge.
What You Go Through When Lying
Lying keeps secrets from the ones we love. We might even think we are protecting them. We assume not telling them is best, because telling them would hurt them, and we care about their feelings. Or we may simply fear the consequences. We may worry that we’ll be in trouble and people will get angry with us.
Not telling the truth takes skill, and thought. Telling a lie requires making up a story where all pieces are plausible. It must have no holes an insightful person could see through. The one lying must then remember the lie, its details, and their order. So lying can be stressful.
That’s the liar’s side. What about the person they lied to? What happens there?
What You Go Through When Lied To
The one who was lied to may feel angry, betrayed, humiliated. It can be belittling and crazy-making. Some people believe that a lie, no matter how small, is a broken trust. Many people believe trust is one of the cornerstones in a relationship. Breaching that trust shakes those people to their core. This happens because they see the foundation of their relationship crumbling beneath them.
They built a relationship on shared truth. It can feel like lies turn that truth into a joke.
So how do couples heal when there are lies that sit between them?
How Couples Heal After Lying?
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 they have to fall on their sword and grovel for the next year. The liars’ job is to realize how they hurt their partner and to cultivate compassion for them. An apology is part of healing, but it’s more than saying, “I’m sorry.” An apology can feel meaningless without understanding the underlying injury. They need to understand the loss of trust, embarrassment, and the anger they caused.
The liar hearing the injured person validates them by understanding their pain. They need the liar to get it. The injured person may want to understand what led to the lie in the first place. They may discover that the lie was a clumsy attempt to protect them.
What can develop is true communication—connection between the couple. Lies can indicate 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 might be better. It could just bring you what you’re after: closeness and truth.
Help Things Get Better with Effective Communication
Read a Book About Making Relationships Work
Learn more about how to communicate with your spouse by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It has conflict resolution strategies, tips for feeling heard, and suggestions on how to express your love and celebrate your relationship. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.