As a psychotherapist specializing in couples counseling in Glendale, CA area and a Couples and Family Counseling professor at Pepperdine University , lying is a topic that is brought to the table more days than none. I found that when couples bring this topic into a therapy with grace session they are searching for two things; closure and understanding. Yet when their spouse tries to explain themselves by going into detail about why they lied, closure is far from obtainable. I often hear my clients vent about how they felt blindsided and betrayed. The spouse that feels betrayed often keeps bringing up the lie in search of closure. The liar on the other end feels hopeless because they can not give their spouse closure. The liar often says things like;

 

“I wish I could take the lie back”

 

“ I don’t know what else you want from me”

 

“I feel like a broken record”

 

and even though they admit to the lie, they are unsure why their apologies and explicit description do not give their spouse closure. The constant internal motivation to feel better and not being able to obtain it brings couples into my therapy room. I don’t know about you but after I lived a negative moment once, I sure do not want to relive it. Closure is not obtained by knowing the facts of the lie, it is achieved when the couple understands, empathizes, and creates a shared meaning together. Lying is inevitable and everyone does it but why is it that even though we know this, it is still very difficult for the liar in the relationship to redeem themselves?

 

Well, let’s start with how the liar tries to explain their actions. They are often asked repeatedly by their spouse why they did it but they answer with how they did it and end with an apology. In hopes of giving their spouse closure, they are opening up the wound and preventing it from healing itself. Confused about why they can not believe the lying partner, the betrayed spouse gets stuck in this cycle of bringing the topic up and having their spouse apologize. After a while, any apology or explanation that comes from the lying spouse is looked at as an excuse. Sadly the longer this cycle goes unresolved the harder it gets for the betrayed spouse to believe any word that may come out of their lying spouse’s mouth.

You may ask why it is that the liar usually explains how they did it instead of why they did it. Well, it is always easier to explain the facts instead of the deep underlying truth that prevents you from being honest in the first place. If the spouse feels the need to lie, that means they lack feeling secure in voicing themselves in the relationship. This is usually a result of how they believe their spouse will react or how they might be viewed by them. The fear of being judged or starting an argument prevents the liar from being honest. In a trust article published in Psychology today, they state that everyone has “ some expectations for a relationship, but you need to find out, subtly, whether they are shared.” To prevent lies from occurring in the future, the couple must be fearless and make sure their expectations and values are being met.
 

Here are 3 steps you can take to rebuild trust in your relationship:

 

Step 1: The liar needs to acknowledge that they need to be completely honest with their spouse to move forward in the relationship.

 

Step 2: The liar needs to be praised by their spouse for being honest and trusting that the relationship foundation begins rebuilding.

 

In step two, the spouse’s praise of the liars honestly does not necessarily mean they will forget, it means that they are accepting of the action and are making a conscious action to move forward in the relationship. The liar still needs to be held accountable for their actions and that is why the last step is important. Step 3: The liar needs to not only come clean with what led them to lie but also needs to voice everything they have been holding back in the relationship.

Step three will consist of not only allowing the liar to express their expectations, beliefs, and values in a relationship but will also consist of allowing their spouse to share their views as well. The likeness is that both parties have been holding back suppressed emotions leading them to this position. In addition to expressing themselves, the couples would also need to empathize with one another to create a shared meaning and understanding. At times the couple might not agree but at least they will both be on the same page on what each other expects. This is difficult and for that reason, it is not out of the ordinary for couples to seek professional help from a local therapist.