Trust is an essential part of every healthy marriage, yet about 10% of spouses lie to their partner every day. Sometimes this is intentional with complicity – telling a spouse they look just as young as when you met 20 years ago certainly qualifies as a fib that both of you are in on. Sometimes a spouse lies to avoid discussing an upsetting topic like a bad day at work that has no bearing on the marriage.
However, trust is fragile and spouses who keep secrets, deceive or lie to their life-partner put that relationship in jeopardy. If the truth later comes out, the relationship can be irreparably damaged. Examples of this include lying about finances, having an affair or hiding an addiction.
The negative effect
Therapists are doing more and more studies on our ability to lie. When it comes to marriage, they find that harm from deception comes in many forms:
- Blocks intimacy: Part of real physical and emotional intimacy involves being real, vulnerable and authentic.
- It snowballs: One lie leads to another to cover it up, each leading to a greater betrayal that obscures modest damage of the original lie.
- Fuels guilt: The burden of a lie can and should weigh heavily upon the perpetrator. It can lead to preoccupation with work, hobbies or even aggressive behavior to create distance.
- Impacts self-esteem: The guilt can build to the point where it eats away at their self-esteem.
- Creates resentment: Those carrying secrets tend to build resentments that they then use to justify their actions.
- Affects physical health: There is research that reveals that lying leads to health complaints.
Marriages come with expectations
Every marriage is different, but each one has a list of things that a spouse needs to be honest about to make the relationship work. There can be health reasons for this, issues of trust and basic standards of behavior to avoid betrayal.
Even if the marriage survives, it could be quite a while before the relationship is back on solid ground. But often, one or both parties feel that the partnership is irreparably damaged. In cases such as these, it makes sense to discuss filing for divorce with an experienced family law attorney. Many find that these legal professionals can help the process go more smoothly while protecting individual and marital rights.