Love, Heartbreak

The Pros And Cons Of Lying To Your Spouse

couple in bed

Into every marriage a little lying must fall. While some small fibs can be a sweet way to boost your man's ego, others may ultimately be harmful to your relationship. Here are eight common marriage lies and the verdict on the benefits or damage that bending the truth will cause.

Lie 1: You look great!
Verdict: Benign

If he's asked you how he looks in the suit he hasn't worn in a year, and you're already en route to a family wedding, telling him he looks fantastic (even if you wish he'd picked the tie without the dancing penguins) can't hurt, and may make the whole affair more fun for both of you. But if he can change, then go for honesty—with a smile, says Laurie Puhn, relationship expert and author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life. Try, "You look so handsome in that suit, but I think the darker shirt would look even better."

Lie 2: Sex with you is the best I've ever had.
Verdict: Mostly benign

"I try never to lie about sex," says Alisa Bowman, who blogs about marriage at "It's difficult enough to remain attracted to someone after years of marriage—being dishonest makes it harder." That said, some men simply don't want the truth that deep in your past you had earth-shaking sex with someone else. In that case, no harm done by keeping up the fantasy that you've never been satisfied by anyone but him. More important, it's a truth that doesn't matter anymore. After all, you're with him—not Mr. Great Sex from 20 years ago, right?

Lie 3: Your family is wonderful!
Verdict: Mostly Benign

"This can be a good lie because you want it to be true," says Puhn. Though it's easy to disparage the in-laws, for the health of your marriage, try to focus on what is wonderful about his family: They adore and babysit your kids, for example. But if there's a situation that's truly bothering you, "be honest with your husband so he can intervene if necessary," says Bowman.

Lie 4: You're the best-looking guy here.
Verdict: Benign

"Add these two words—to me—and it becomes true no matter what," says Puhn. White lie or plain and honest truth, saying these words, or something like them, is an opportunity to give your marriage a shot in the arm. Plus, "a great thing happens when you compliment the person you love," says Puhn. "He becomes more of what you say he is."

Lie 5: I did have an orgasm last night.
Verdict: Bad

Lying about your satisfaction with your sex life hurts you. Woman up and tell him—preferably while you're in bed—what makes you feel good. You may think the lie is OK because you don't want to ding his ego, but while it may temporarily make him feel good to hear that he rocked your world, "your satisfaction is more important than his ego," says Bowman.

Lie 6: Great job on cleaning up the yard/garage/basement.
Verdict: Benign

This is the best kind of white lie, says Puhn, because it "points out the positive and ignores the negative." He spent hours in the yard, mowing, weeding, raking and edging? Fantastic! Your yard still looks less than lovely? Who cares? Something was accomplished, and highlighting what wasn't will only guarantee that he won't be out there next weekend to finish the job.

Lie 7: Saying "I'm fine" when he asks how you are (even though you're not).
Verdict: Bad

What you're doing by staying mum and stewing over an issue (he forgot your anniversary, or to walk the dog) does harm to you both. "You're testing him to see if he can read your mind," says Puhn. Guess what? He couldn't do it last time you tried this, and he can't this time, either. Give the guy a chance, adds Bowman. "Most men say, 'I'll do whatever she wants, but I don't know what she wants.' If he's done something wrong, he needs a map out of the doghouse." Give it to him. Honestly.

Lie 8: That high school boyfriend on Facebook? I have no feelings for him!
Verdict: Potentially bad

The question is, do you have feelings for the ex you found on Facebook or the guy in the next cubicle? Lying about them masks what might be a problem, both personally and for the health of your marriage, says Bowman. "It's less a matter of whether or not to tell your husband, and more about being honest with yourself. If you're lying about flirty e-mails, you could be in trouble. Emotional affairs can be dangerous."

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