Have you ever caught your spouse in a lie? If you did, would you know how to confront them?
If you’ve ever experienced this gut-wrenching scenario, you know how devastating it feels. Accepting that your spouse has been dishonest is one of the hardest things to do. Deciding how and when to confront them is equally daunting, because now your entire perception of your spouse is in question.
What else have they lied about? How long have they been lying? Is this about just one issue, and if so, can we rebuild from here?
If your spouse has lied to you, you’re now staring down a painful discussion. No matter how it goes, it’s not going to be easy.
Consider the Situation
Before you jump right into confrontation, consider what’s behind your spouse’s dishonesty. Here are some questions to ask:
- Could he/she be trying to get out of trouble? Maybe they didn’t do something you asked them to do, and they don’t want you to be upset with them.
- Are they avoiding your reaction to something–particularly in an area where they might have disappointed you in the past?
- What are the circumstances surrounding the lie? What other factors might have contributed to their decision to be dishonest?
- Does your spouse have a pattern of dishonesty? Is it possible that this is a one-time, circumstantial occurrence?
Whatever the answers, it’s good to prepare with some possible context. The more insight you can gain before the confrontation, the better. You’ll also be better prepared to empathize where appropriate.
Talk to Your Spouse
As calmly as possible, you need to talk directly with your spouse about the lie. It’s best to do this when you’ve had a little time to process the situation and think about what you want to say. Let them know that what you’ve seen and heard doesn’t add up, and give them a chance to explain themselves.
Try saying something like, “Hey, I’m getting two different messages here. You’ve told me one thing, but the situation appears to be something else. That makes it seem like you’re not being honest with me.”
It’s also important to express how the lie has made you feel and what kind of impact it’s having on your wellbeing. When you confront your spouse, they need to understand your experience as a result of this lie. They need to know your feelings about, and perception of, their dishonesty. They likely won’t want to sit with your disappointment, but it’s necessary if you both want a chance to rebuild.
What’s the Nature of Your Spouse’s Dishonesty?
Talking directly with your spouse about the lie will also give you insight into what kind of dishonesty you’re dealing with. It could be driven by immaturity, like lying to avoid letting you down (which is, in itself, counterproductive). On the other hand, their dishonesty could be more serious.
Depending on the scenario, think about whether you’re dealing with a more malicious pattern. Is your spouse purposely dishonoring you and your marriage? Are they engaging in risky or destructive behaviors that could cause irreparable harm? Your answer will help inform your next steps, such as seeking professional advice.
Stick to the Issue at Hand
Finally, stick to the main issue at hand for now. It’s natural to question what other things your spouse might have been dishonest about. For now, though, don’t try to handle every possible lie at once. It may not feel like it right now, but you’ll have plenty of time to sort out other issues over time.
Take some time to consider possible future discussions before bringing them up. Journal about your concerns to clear your thoughts. You might also want to seek professional counseling from a therapist who can help you navigate what’s happening. This could end up being a blip in your relationship, or it could be the beginning of a major shift. Either way, you’ll need support and clarity.
As you navigate this difficult situation, you’ll need insight along the way. Our book, Strengthen Your Marriage, offers important tips and advice to help you through the changing seasons of marriage, and the bumps in the road along the way. Order yours here.
Have you dealt with dishonesty in your marriage? How did you handle it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
My Husband and I are struggling I’m our marriage.
We need to seek help and my husband just lost his job.
No honoring our marriage is starting to affect our son.
Really worried about him because he is at a vonerable age. 16.
Please call me as we need to fine couseling very soon.
I’m so sorry to hear about your martial issues and your husband losing his job has sure added another layer of stress…
Praying for you!
I am not sure that Les and Leslie actually view the comment section or how often, so please reach out a different way. It may be quicker and more effective to check with your or a local church that offers counseling instead.