“Lies are like cockroaches; for everyone you discover, there are many more that are hidden”. Author Gary Hopkins perfectly illustrates the hideousness of lies and how they scurry away into every crevice of your mind. In essence, what lies do to marriage go much deeper than you imagine.
What dishonesty does to a marriage
First, everyone lies. That includes you and me.
As a psychiatrist explains in her article “Why People Lie,” this habit starts at around the age of 4 or 5. For instance, most of us ignore so-called ‘white lies’ because it feels right to spare someone’s feelings.
White lies are still lies.
So, when does lying become a problem? At the extreme end of the scale, you have sociopaths. Then you also have liars who get some immediate benefit, such as getting that job they’re not fully qualified for. Or landing the perfect spouse.
Eventually, lies catch up with you in a marriage. You might have had a creeping suspicion for a while, but now you’re sure: “my husband lied to me.” At this point, you’ll start noticing what lies do to a marriage.
Interestingly, as psychologist Robert Feldman explains in his book “The Liar in Your Life,” his research shows that most of the time, we don’t want to see the lies. This partly explains why lies are in your everyday life.
After all, who doesn’t enjoy the odd white lie about how fabulous we are even when we know we haven’t slept?
If you’ve woken up to the stark realization “my whole marriage was a lie,” perhaps you can ask yourself how long ago you noticed in your gut but didn’t want to admit it to yourself.
Of course, this doesn’t make it easier to accept that you’re married to a liar, but it does help you understand how we all encourage lies in our relationships in different ways. You can then start seeing the depth of what lies do to a marriage.
Not only do they cause you unbearable pain, but they create such an illusion that even the liars lose a sense of what’s true anymore.
5 ways deception dismantles a marriage
What lies do to a marriage depends on the severity of the lie and the impact of the betrayal it causes. Although, it was Darwin who noticed that all animals lie, including us.
This article describing how Darwin first noticed that animals are deceitful gives you some clues as to how humans also do it. Flashy cars can be compared to displays of strength, and smart clothes to bright plumage.
Then again, are those lies or just innocent embellishments of the truth? Bear this in mind as you review the next 5 points and consider where you draw the line. Most importantly, does your spouse agree?
1. The pain of mistrust
Wherever you draw the line, a lying husband breaks your trust. When the betrayal is so grave that you feel emotionally and even physically violated in your relationship, the level of pain can even lead to a breakup.
What lies do to a marriage is the same as taking a sledgehammer to the foundations of your house. Your relationship will weaken and eventually crumble.
A marriage of lies puts you on edge. You’re constantly walking on eggshells whilst being on the defensive as you work out what you can believe.
In short, what lies do to a marriage is about creating a wall. After all, you now need this filter to protect yourself from lies. This only destroys intimacy and any hope of a deep connection.
3. Lack of belief in life
When you find yourself thinking the phrase, “my husband lied to me,” you might also start giving up on life. This happens because, for many, a core belief in life is that they can trust and believe in their marriage.
If that belief is shattered, they find themselves not only lost but also not sure what to believe in. What aren’t other fundamental things about life true anymore? It can be truly terrifying, such that it triggers depression or worse.
4. Loss of self and resentment.
There are a few core things that destroy a marriage as a counselor describes in her article on the Four Habits that Destroy Marriages. The number one point is lying in a marriage.
What lies do to a marriage doesn’t just stop at not talking about our feelings. It also includes hiding the bad things about ourselves.
Then, the more we cover up and create lies to make up for our weaknesses, the more we lose touch with who we are. Over time, this creates a distance and resentment between both. Neither party knows who the other is, and the commitment dwindles away.
5. Increased insecurity
It’s unnerving when you have to think, “my husband lied to me” because you don’t know where the truth starts or where it ends, if ever. You might still feel unsafe and even start hiding away valuables.
No marriage can survive when one is afraid of the other.
Have you ever discovered your spouse or partner lying about a previous marriage? Whether they never told you they were married, or perhaps they lied about who they were married to, it can lead to bigger lies.
The next thing you know, you’ve moved beyond white lies to things that destroy a marriage. You’ll start seeing some of these physical and mental signs, which could scar you for the long term.
1. Mental and emotional strain
No matter how big or small, marriage lies eventually impact both the liar’s and the victim’s health. On one side, the liar has to keep living up to their lies which puts undue pressure on them.
On the other side, their partner doesn’t know them anymore and starts creating distance. This destroys intimacy, and any emotional and mental support couples normally provide for each other.
Without such a partnership, what lies do to a marriage includes making both sides feel overwhelmed and strained.
2. Increased stress
As thishealth article on truth explains, a lying husband is subjected to an increased heart rate along with higher blood pressure and more stress hormones.
Essentially, any lie triggers a stress state that the body can’t cope with for any length of time. Gradually, you’ll notice your husband becoming more irritable, which in turn impacts you and your approach to life.
If this sounds familiar, watch this video to get 6 daily habits to reduce your stress:
A marriage of lies erodes your self-worth in the sense that you’re surrounded by lies, so how can you even trust yourself? Similarly, liars, deep down, don’t see themselves as a good person and all self-worth disappears.
Yes, what lies do to a marriage can go so deep that we forget or ignore the core values that makeup who we are. We lose grip on ourselves as well as reality, and it’s a slippery slope from there.
Lying in a marriage creates an uneven balance where one person profits and the other loses. The next thing you know, the liar in your life manipulates you into doing things you’re not comfortable with.
You might even sacrifice things like having a career or kids to support some embellished fantasy of a big money scheme. Not only do you lose financial freedom but your self-esteem.
5. Accept life’s foibles
Learning to trust again after a deep betrayal is one of the deep scars of what lies do to a marriage. Then again, remember that lies come in all shapes and sizes and that none of us is perfect.
Sometimes, seeing someone lie reminds us that we’re all anxious and afraid of things, so we embellish the truth. At that point, we have a choice. We can accept that we’re all weak, but generally, most of us do our best.
Or you can go up in arms against all lies and deceit. You can’t win that war without first winning the battle against your own lies.
If you can do that and embrace your dark side such that you are comfortable sharing it with the world, you’ll have come further than most in this world.
More notes on what lies do to a marriage
Check out further questions on what lies do to a marriage:
Can marriage withstand dishonesty?
Nothing in life is simple and when you start noticing what lies do to a marriage, try to remember that all of us lie for a reason. Whether it’s to protect our self-image or even someone else’s feelings, it can sometimes come from good intentions.
And that’s the key, if you want to move on from marriage lies, they have to come from a place of compassion.
Moreover, perhaps lying about a previous marriage was just a stupid mistake based on anxiety. Then again, the destruction behind what lies do to marriage is only extreme when you both have different views of what innocent lies look like.
How do you navigate a lying spouse?
Being married to a liar will take its toll regardless of where you draw your definitions. If you want to fight for your marriage, it helps to try to understand the motivation behind the lies.
Psychologist Robert Feldman further explains in his book “The Liar in Your Life” that it’s tough being yourself. Every day we have to make conscious choices to ensure our actions match our self-image.
These choices are influenced by context, moods, and social pressure such that often those choices aren’t conscious. How many times have you talked yourself up in a situation where you felt out of depth? It feels normal, but it’s still a lie.
It’s the same when being married to a liar. Can you see the anxiety and fear behind the lies and can you compassionately support them in healing and moving towards truth? On the flip side, what are you doing that could be encouraging lies?
Then again, if the lies are so extreme and hurtful, perhaps you need to protect yourself first.
In those cases, you might choosemarriage therapy to help you make sense of it all. You’ll also learn how to set boundaries that prioritize your needs and safety.
Don’t let lies become your downfall
No one wants to wake up to the words, “my whole marriage was a lie,” and yet it happens more often than we like. Often, it’s your gut that starts discerning what lies do to marriage but eventually, logic tells you something needs to change.
It’s easy to condemn liars but remember that we all lie every day to some degree. The difference is whether people lie from a place of compassion or self-interest.
The impact of the latter approach can be so dire that you’ll needmarriage therapy to help you make sense of reality and your self-worth. In essence, lies are harmful and also confusing whilst also creating a chasm between you two.
A successful marriage comes down to communication and aligned expectations. At some point, not telling the truth inevitably harms someone further down the line.
So, how can you define your own truth within your marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Anne’s passion and purpose in life are to guide people to find their own path and contentment by learning about themselves. Only then can we build and nurture the deep connections we all deserve to have. With a background in psychology and neuroscience coaching, she has helped countless couples transform their communication from aggression to assertiveness and appreciation.
She is both an ICF certified coach and mindfulness-certified, while being a counselor in training, meaning that she offers a holistic approach. You can expect to transform your view of yourself, your relationship, and the world by better understanding the habits of your mind and letting go of the unhelpful ones. You have power over your mind but you don’t have to do it alone.