Your wife lied to you. Not a miscommunication. Not a misunderstanding. A lie. Dishonesty. Deception. Whatever you call it, it comes down to the same thing. “She could have told me the truth…she should have told me the truth…but she didn’t. She tried to deceive me. Why is my wife lying to me?”
Naturally, you want to know why. I imagine you’ve asked her why she lied, but whatever answer she gave didn’t give you confidence that it was the real answer. That’s probably why you’re watching this. You want to know if someone can help you get a better understanding, open your eyes to what you want to see but haven’t been able to yet.
Hi, I’m Dr. Joe Beam. If you’ll spend a few minutes with me in this video, I believe I can give you insight. Obviously, I don’t know your wife and can’t speak directly about her, but I have read the research about lying and I’ve worked with thousands of people over the last 25 years.
By the way, we have many videos on YouTube that will give you answers to relationship questions. Subscribe below so that you have access to them all.
Now let’s get to your situation.
There are three common motivations that lead people to lie.
Stay with me through all three because the last one may well be quite an eyeopener for YOU. When you understand that one, it may well change the course of your marriage from this point on.
The first reason that people lie is the one that most people think is the reason that anyone ever lies. It’s not. And it may not have anything to do with why your wife lies to you, but because so many people who are lied to think that this is the only reason, let’s get it out of the way so we can get to the other two more fascinating reasons.
What is this first motivation or reason?
The first is called the “liar liar.”
Let me explain. Some people have been lying all their lives. It started when they were young – maybe it got them attention, maybe they found they could manipulate people by lying, or maybe they learned to do it by observing Dad or Mom. Whatever the reason, it became their pattern.
“Liar liars” will lie when the truth would be better. They typically feel little to no guilt when they lie, no pang of conscience. To them, lying is just as acceptable as telling the truth. Sometimes they have trouble even knowing what truth is. They create their own realities by making things up or by distorting facts. They’ve become so good at deception that sometimes it even works on them. They can tell a lie so convincingly that they themselves believe it to be true…at least in a way.
“Liar liars” are relatively rare. Therefore, my guess is that your wife isn’t one. However, if your wife has been lying since you’ve known her…if she’s so smooth that for a while you bought into anything she said…but now you think that she’d make an excellent con artist…then she may be this kind of liar.
If so, don’t expect a change to occur without help. If she IS this kind of liar, you’ve caught her before. She first tried to lie her way out of the lie, then, if that didn’t work, she became so very sorry and promised you that she’d never lie to you again. But, she did lie to you again. Often for no reason that you can figure. Think of the “liar liar” as having a sort of sickness, if you will. Getting “well” from this – getting over it – nearly always requires professional help. With the right help, they CAN change this pattern and be the kind of person you can trust. If you’re convinced that your wife is a “liar liar” I suggest you ask her to get help. Assist her in finding it. If it’s the right help, your lives will change in wonderful ways.
If your wife refuses to get the help she needs, you may love her enough that you stay with her the rest of your life…but you’ll always be wary…always check behind her…rarely if ever take what she says at face value.
As I’ve already said, my guess is that your wife is NOT that kind of liar. If you think she is, or if you’re not sure, stay with me as I explain the other two kinds of liars. I think you may find one of them to be the reason that she lies.
The second kind of liar is called the “protective liar.”
That means that when she feels that the truth will hurt you, she won’t tell you the truth. Either she hides it altogether or she slants what she says in hopes that will somehow reduce the negative effect it will have on you.
I have a friend who for years was this kind of liar. He’s a medical professional. His wife had a debilitating disease that would progress over years. He loved her. He hated to see her in pain. Not just the physical pain but the mental and emotional pain as well. When she would ask him about what the future held…what comes next…how bad will it be, he never once gave her an honest answer. He felt the pain she endured was already too much; he didn’t see how she could cope with knowing what would come next…what terrors lay ahead.
The problem with “protective lying” is that the person you think you’re protecting may lose confidence in you. After a while, they know that you’re hiding the truth…after all, the information you give proves false time after time. They decide that you have no idea what you’re talking about…OR they become convinced that you won’t tell them the truth and they resent that.
Of course, “protective lying” isn’t always about physical problems. There are so many things that someone who loves you might feel that she should protect you from. Money problems. People saying nasty things about you. The list is endless, but the results are similar.
Some people might want the other to protectively lie: “lie to me to keep me from knowing what’s really happening.”
However, most people resent it…at least after a while. “What gives you the right to decide what I should and shouldn’t know? What makes you think that you’re stronger than I am or that you’re wiser, smarter, or whatever it is that makes you think you can deceive me when I ask you to tell me the truth?”
When my friend – the medical guy – finally realized the downside to protective lying, he started telling his wife the truth.
Was that scary for her?
Yes, but her fear was far more than offset by the peace she found in KNOWING what was coming rather than the terrifying GUESSES she’d been making.
He thought he was protecting her by his lies. Instead, he really was protecting his own emotions.
If your wife is lying because she’s trying to protect you from something…AND if you WANT to know the truth and NOT have her screen things for you…then tell her that. Calmly, with love, say something like “I know that what you’re trying to do is keep me from hurting. But it’s not working that way. It’s making me not trust you and that’s hurting me more. Whatever it is that you feel you’re protecting me from can’t be as bad as my losing my faith in you. Don’t protect me. Tell me the truth. We’ll face whatever it is together.”
There’s one other thing to mention here…it may that the thing she’s protecting you from is her. She may be into something…or someone…and feel she’s protecting you by keeping you from knowing. If so, there’s a way to deal with that. It’s better if I explain that with the third kind of liar.
The “get out of trouble liar.”
This happens when she knows that what’s she’s doing – or has done – conflicts with what you think of her or expect of her.
I could give thousands of examples here of how people lie to get out of trouble. The underlying principle is this: They know that there is an expected standard of conduct – things that are right and things that are wrong – but they have violated that standard. If your wife is this kind of liar, rather than taking the blame and facing you, she hides it, fabricates lies if caught, and covers that lie with more lies if the first one falls apart.
If your wife is lying to you because she’s covering up something, it well may be that what she’s hiding is not something major. For example, it might be she spent a little too much. Got a ticket. Washed the wrong thing rather than taking it to the cleaners and now it’s ruined. If so – if it’s not major – try not to react in a way that makes things worse. I realize that you may be upset, but there’s something important that you need to consider.
Could it be that you – whether you mean to or not – operate more in the realm of a parent than that of a husband? Ask yourself why your wife, a grown woman who can make her own decisions, make her own way in the world, is so afraid of you knowing that she made an error? Afraid enough that she chooses to lie rather than to tell you what she did. Yes, I know that some people are like that because of their own lack of self-esteem because of things that happened when they were kids.
Is that the case with your wife? OR, if you were to examine what’s going on, would you discover it isn’t something from earlier in her life…it has more to do with her fearing rejection from you?
Does she dread the way you react to anything she does that doesn’t meet your expectations? Maybe you give condescending lectures…maybe you yell…give her the cold shoulder…sneer at her ignorance or inability to do things right…embarrass her in front of her children, or in front of others by telling everyone what she does wrong…using her errors to make jokes at her expense…I could give more illustrations but I think you get the idea.
In short, if she’s lying to you in an effort to avoid your reactions…and the thing that she did or is doing isn’t that big in and of itself…could that be telling you the effect that you have on her?
If so, she may be lying to you NOW to avoid your reactions, but at some point, she very likely is going to have enough of the way you act toward her. No one wants to be treated as an inferior…as a person that is disrespected. If that’s your situation…if your wife perceives you as controlling and that she had better toe the line if she wants to have peace, love, and joy…then there is a very strong likelihood of her someday deciding to leave you so that she can have a sense of her own self-worth.
No, I’m not justifying her lying. I’m asking you to analyze whether she’s lying to get out of trouble because of her own inner struggles of self-worth and esteem, OR if she’s trying to avoid you doing more harm to her sense of self.
If that is the case in your marriage, please, if you love her, find out how to change the way you interact. I suggest you call us about how we can help.
Let me shift to one other area…
It’s still in the category of the “get out of trouble” liar, but not for minor things. This has to do with when she’s doing or is into something major.
For example, we see that kind of liar when a wife is having an affair. She’ll lie to her husband as long as she can. She’ll lie to anyone in order not to be caught…OR to justify her actions if she is caught.
When we work with couples, nearly always we hear the spouse who was cheated on say “The affair was horrible. But it’s the fact that she lied so well and so long that rips me apart.”
Of course, the major thing may not be an affair. It could be gambling, addiction, pursuing another lifestyle. It’s another one of those lists that could go on for a while. Whatever it is…if she’s lying because of something major…something that is tearing or can tear your marriage apart…then the way you deal with it will set the course for your future.
If you want to divorce her, handle it any way you wish.
If you love her and want to save the marriage, then it’s very important that you do NOT do things to make it worse. Things such as: exploding in anger…paying her back for what’s she’s done…setting boundaries that put her in a veritable emotional prison…threatening the guy she’s involved with…you get the idea…those kinds of things aren’t going to help and very, very likely will make it worse.
If you want to save your marriage, what do you do instead?
I can tell you the things to do that will work if anything will. I’ll tell you how to get that information in just a moment.
Which kind of liar is your wife?
If she’s a “liar liar” I strongly suggest you get her to a qualified therapist to help her change that behavior.
If she’s a “protective liar,” your best course of action is to have an open, caring conversation where you tell her how you feel about her protective lying, but be sure you do it WITHOUT attacking her or making her feel bad in the process.
Or, If she’s a “get out of trouble liar”, then you have two things to consider. First, does she do that because of how you treat her…because of the ways you react when she doesn’t meet your standards? If so, please call us so that we can help. Second, IF it’s because she’s into something that is big…major marriage trouble big…I strongly urge you to call us. We can help.
It’s important to respond in the right way if you discover your wife is lying. Now, we aren’t justifying the fact that she’s lying to you, but it’s important that you respond in a respectful, calm manner that can help build your relationship. However, if the lie or the issue in your marriage seems too big to handle, or feels like a crisis, we’d love to help. Do you want to start on the path to restore your marriage? Check out the Rescue My Marriage Kit here.