Loving, Lies and Affairs

When relationships go wrong it is often the result of a series of small lies that have compounded over time. Partners lie, and through habit they repeat the lies and eventually forget that they are even lying.  Sometimes one or both of the partners are aware of the lies, but often both partners have lost track of when they are telling the truth and when they are not. 

Often the lies are expressed non-verbally. The mouth says one thing and the face says another.

Intimate relationships are all about sharing. That means being honest, with yourself first of all and also with your partner. 

Honesty is one of the great tasks and at the same timeone of the  great privileges of intimacy.  Lying undermines that sharing, and the result is a relationship that can feel distant and lack meaning.

When affairs occur there is almost always lying involved. In  therapy we find that to a surprising  extent both partners participate in the lying, and not just the lie about the affair. I don’t mean just the lying about having the affair or keeping the affair secret. I mean  the equally important series of lies that lead up to the affair in the first place – whether it be a sexual affair, an emotional affair, or a financial affair  such as hidden bank accounts or hidden spending.

Today I added a book to my resource list that can help couples be more honest with each other. This is a book that has been on my shelf for a long time, yet I have often hestitated to recommend it. This book brings up issues that are emotionally challanging  for both partners – especially the one who feels betrayed.  Also, in some ways the book seems written for therapists more than for clients.  Still, the content of the book is excellent.  With financial restraints increasingly  limiting the number of sessions that clients can afford, I find it more and more helpful  to recommend books as homework to supplement what do in the office. 

Tell Me No Lies: How to Stop Lying to Your Partner and Yourself(2000), by Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson.