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Forgiving a Spouse Who Has Lied by Omission

by Shannon Philpott

Marriage is built on trust and honesty, but when your spouse chooses to lie by omission, the trust is often broken instantly. Lying by omission can be just as hurtful as telling a white lie or engaging in deceitful behavior. As you work through feelings of betrayal, disappointment, anger and sadness, it may be difficult to figure out how to forgive your spouse. Working through these feelings takes some time, but with patience and strength, it is possible to heal the relationship and forgive your spouse.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

When someone lies by omission, it fosters an environment of secrecy and skepticism. Feeling betrayed, you may find yourself questioning your spouse's every move. First, you need to acknowledge that the feelings you are experiencing are valid. Even though your spouse may not have intended to cause you pain, the reality is that you were hurt. To forgive and forget, it helps to look at how the relationship was damaged by the lie of omission, says Sharon Gibson, relationship expert and founder of the couples' website Conflict to Peace in Relationships. Evaluate how your feelings have caused you to become uncertain regarding the relationship and how your spouse’s actions have affected your overall emotional well-being.

Express Yourself

Your spouse may not fully understand how a lie of omission has caused you pain, doubt or uncertainty. Express how you feel to help you heal and move toward forgiveness. If you have difficulty expressing your thoughts to your spouse, begin by venting to a family therapist, trusted friend or relationship counselor, suggests Gibson. Part of grieving a breach of trust involves finding ways to process your feelings. If you are uncomfortable sharing your thoughts with others, try expressing your feelings in a written journal.

Set Boundaries

When working to rebuild trust in a relationship, it’s important to set boundaries and expectations for behavior. Discuss how you and your spouse can be more open and honest with each other and outline how lies by omission can cause significant damage to the relationship. Determine a plan to minimize any conflicts that may tempt one or both of you to lie by omission and then create guidelines for working out disagreements respectfully. You can never control the behavior of your spouse, but you can demand respect and honest, according to Fred Luskin, faculty member at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. When you and your spouse can have honest discussions, it may reduce the urge to lie by omission in the future and help you regain trust enough to forgive.

Focus on the Positive

When you feel betrayed by a spouse, your emotions can spiral. Negative thoughts only make you feel worse. Luskin suggests focusing on the positive aspects of the relationship to help you move toward forgiveness. Think about what led the two of you together, the happy moments you cherish and the positive traits you both possess. Even though you are angry or disappointed in your spouse’s behavior, it helps to recognize that this person has many positive attributes. As you focus on the positive, show your care so that your spouse can also see the importance of your relationship. Reconnecting in a healthy manner may help you to cope with the breach of trust and lead you to forgive your spouse.

About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

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