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How to Address My Lack of Honesty in a Relationship

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Healthy, thriving relationships need honesty to maintain trust. However, 92 percent of people in a relationship admit to either lying overtly, covertly by withholding the truth or skirting an issue to avoid the truth, according to Tim Cole of DePaul University, in a 2001 study published in the “Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.” If you have been less than honest with your partner, coming clean might be difficult.

Confession Is Good for the Soul

Eventually, your partner is going to discover that you have lied, so it is better to confess before she finds out rather than afterwards, admonish social workers Linda and Charlie Bloom in a PsychCentral.com article entitled, “7 Steps to Healing Broken Trust.” If you have been lying for a long time, this might be devastating to your partner and undermine all the trust your partner has in you. Revealing your lies before you are found out helps to salvage some of the trust your partner has in you, according to the Blooms.

Expose the Truth

Come clean with your partner and tell the truth, or at least as much of it as is necessary to satisfy your partner, advise the Blooms. Some partners will want to know all the intimate details of the truth and others will want broad-brush strokes. It will depend on what you are lying about -- and why. Your partner hearing that you have an estranged sister no one mentions will be less traumatic than learning you’ve been having an affair for the last year. Acknowledge your partner’s need for information and any harm the lie has caused.

Commit to a Zero-Tolerance Policy

You need to adhere to a zero-tolerance dishonesty policy, advises Dr. Willard Harley, Jr. on his Marriage Builders website. No little, white lies or big, ugly black ones. Don’t lie to protect your partner, even about small stuff such as whether you forgot to take out the trash or overspending your budget. Harley admits that telling the truth might be painful sometimes, but it helps build a strong foundation for your relationship and assures your partner that your word is your bond.

Slow and Steady Rebuilding

Rebuilding trust after lying might take longer than you think, but it is about your partner’s ability to trust you, counsel the Blooms. Take responsibility for your actions and let your partner establish whatever system is necessary to assure that you are telling the truth all of the time. That could include opening up your phone records, your email accounts and calling your partner when you aren’t home on time. It will take as long as it does, but your commitment to truth can rebuild broken trust.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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