6) "They're downsizing at work. But don't worry. They won't get me."
Many men still feel paternalistic about the women they love, so they lie to spare them worry. But these lies can destroy the very sense of confidence that the man hoped to create. And they can make a woman feel she is not a respected partner in the relationship.
She can demand a halt to these lies only if she isn't engaging in them herself. One couple, both midlevel executives, were worried about losing their jobs, but neither wanted to worry the other. She waited until her husband was asleep to write job applications. He bought a second copy of the newspaper so he could circle employment ads. But the secrecy exacted a price. Eventually the wife began to wonder if her husband was having an affair.
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Then one day the husband arrived ahead of schedule for an appointment with a headhunter. "There's another candidate with her now," the receptionist said. It was his wife.
Learning the truth helped the couple begin supporting instead of "protecting" each other. The burden lifted, and their marriage stayed on track. Incidentally, neither of them was fired.
7) "Sure, I'll mow the lawn—as soon as this crick in my back goes away."
There are few things that trouble a man more than a woman's anger—or nagging, as he calls it—so he lies to avoid a scene. It is in "hassle-prevention lying" that men can demonstrate their greatest versatility.
"I'll take the kids to the park—when the weather gets nicer," he says as he goes out the door with golf clubs. "I would have scrubbed the pots, but I couldn't find the scouring pads"—never looking under the sink.
I know of a young man in New York City who forgot his girlfriend's birthday. When she confronted him, he claimed he'd planned a surprise all along. He grabbed the phone, called a home-shopping network and berated the representative for not sending the expensive gift he'd ordered. "If you can't do better than this, I'll tear up my membership card!" he shouted. Of course, the man didn't have a card and had never ordered a gift.
If hassle-prevention lies are occasional, the woman can ignore them. But if they form a pattern, she needs to look at what the real problems are.
In his book The Varnished Truth, David Nyberg, professor of education at State University of New York at Buffalo, states, "Occasionally there is a lot to lose by telling the truth, and something to be gained by not telling the truth." Still, it's important to remember that lies are at heart deceptions, and repeated deceptions destroy intimacy.
Real intimacy is only possible to the degree that we can be honest about what we are doing and feeling. When lying comes to predominate in a marriage, the relationship begins to deteriorate. A husband and wife can sense the trust erode, and feel their hearts growing colder.
The healing oxygen is truth. A woman who is hearing too many lies needs to have a serious discussion with her husband. She should stress she's ready to listen, and ask him to present his thoughts in a caring manner.
Men, for their part, need to develop the courage to drop the defense mechanisms that bolster their egos and pride, and search for true intimacy with their mates. Telling the truth to a spouse is the first step toward showing that love is more important than lies.
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