By Joyce Oglesby
Q: “My husband and I have been married for almost a year. I’m crazy about him, and I know he loves me, too. But recently, I have caught him in some lies. If he did this while we were dating, I never realized it. Most of them are little things here and there, but one in particular regarding our finances has really troubled me. I know the truth and did question him, yet he still denies it. I don’t want it to affect us, and I am trying to move on, but where do I draw the line?”
Joyce: Boundaries are better defined with a permanent marker rather than an erasable pencil.
Forgiveness can eradicate any number of grievances, but when a pattern continues, grievances are difficult to forget. I believe your concern has great merit. I’m drawn to the opinion that your husband’s penchant for stretching truth didn’t begin at your marriage. We truly come to recognize flaws once we live with someone. This is one character blemish that could adversely impact your marriage, so here are a few things to consider.
- His reaction when confronted. Recall how he has responded to you when called out regarding his untruth. If he has reacted shamefully and apologized for his actions, be encouraged. If, on the other hand, his reaction has been flippant, arrogant, and/or lacking remorse, you might have cause for more concern.
- Boldness is imperative. Don’t be timid about calling his hand on even “little things” he is lying about. It’s an uncomfortable thing to do at times, but holding people dear to us accountable for their actions is in and of itself a powerful act of love. Your approach can and should be kind, but drawing the line of intolerance for such behavior is as important to our spouse as it is to our children. (If kids are in your future, he wants to be a great example as a father.)
- Discuss the intent. Intention plays a huge part in every act of betrayal. (And yes, this is why your heart is uneasy.) Is every lie a deliberate breach of trust? For a fact, I do believe there are premeditated, well thought-out acts of commission, but I also understand that people make flippant remarks “on the fly,” if you will. Regardless, habits can be formed and pain is inflicted. Giving him reason to question his intent could aid in breaking a bad habit or make him think before his intent is called into question.
- Trust is essential. No good marriage will survive without trust. I tell couples all the time, “Trust is on loan; it’s only yours until someone takes it back.” For you to enjoy the quality and structural soundness in a relationship that everyone in love desires, trustworthiness must be in place. Once it is compromised, the foundation weakens.
- Look, but don’t gawk. Be vigilant to catch him in his moments of false statements. However, be careful not to make him feel as though he’s under constant scrutiny. You both should be relaxed around one another and not subjecting yourselves to unnecessary tension.
- Integrity rules. Establishing rules of conduct for what you will tolerate brings balance to those things you won’t. Tender moments are more teachable and less damaging than inflatable ones. Talk to your husband about how integrity rules in your heart, as well as what your rules are for integrity. Explain to him how important his trustworthiness is to you, his family and friends, his employer, and in every walk of life.
- Protect your future. Until you become content again with trusting his behavior, be cautious with your financial future. Not being informed about the nature of the financial breach of trust, I would not feel comfortable with the measure of warning to offer. I would, however, admonish you to seek counseling on this side of trouble rather than the peril side if it is a notable infraction of your financial stability.
- Again, a lie is a lie regardless of size, but consequences can certainly vary depending on its measure. You can have a long and meaningful marriage, but without trust, your love will be called into question along with his integrity.
Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro at firstname.lastname@example.org and find a solution for life. Now you can watch The Just Ask Joyce Show on a local TV station near you or go here to view it. It’s where real life and family values connect!