Q: My husband lies to me so much I think he has a real problem. He is always saying he did something, like mail my letter when he didn’t, or saying that he will be home by 5 p.m. and he shows up at 6 or 7. These are not big lies, but they frustrate me and get me so angry I can hardly stand it. What can I do?
A: One of the questions that might be useful to ask yourself is how you do handle your husband’s telling you the truth? For instance, what if he said he had not mailed your letter? How would you take it if he said he would be home at 6 or 7, when he was finished with his work?
If you feel you would have trouble hearing these answers, then you may have solved a major part of the puzzle. A relationship is a system. One partner influences the behavior of the other. Not knowing your situation specifically, it is difficult to know how you and your husband might be colluding in the dishonesty.
However, if you and your husband are like most couples, there probably is some of this taking place. What I mean by your colluding with your husband is this: If you make it frightening or threatening for him to tell you the truth, if you cannot accept a straight-out “no,” then you are, in your own way, contributing to his dishonesty.
As you make it safer for him to level with you, it is hoped that you will find him more open to telling you what he really feels or wants in a straightforward manner. One of the hardest things for most of us is to learn to ask for what we want. Often the unrealistic expectation is that if we ask the other for what we want, he/she will appreciate our efforts and will automatically say yes. This is a myth. The fact is when each of us is assertive enough to ask for what we want we have a 50-50 chance of getting it. The other person can say yes or no. As simple as that sounds, it is often hard to accept.
Give some thought to your willingness to hear the truth from your husband. If the truth means an inconvenience to you or disagrees with your requests or wishes, you may have more power over influencing his honesty with you than you thought.