How to Cope When a Spouse Lies

by Leah Campbell ; Updated December 13, 2017

It's hard to learn that your spouse is being dishonest with you.

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One of the most important components of a strong and healthy marriage is trust. When that trust is breached by a spouse who lies, coming to terms with the betrayal, and knowing what to do next, isn’t easy. From confronting your partner on the lies, to deciding whether or not to stay together, you have some big decisions to make in moving forward from a breach of trust.

Assess the Situation

Take time to evaluate what you know, and determine the full extent of the lies you have been told. Avoid a heated exchange immediately after learning about the betrayal. Instead, give yourself the opportunity to cool down so that you can remain as level-headed as possible when that conversation does occur.

Bring it Up

Begin the path toward healing by first revealing to your spouse that you have discovered the deception. Recognize that the negative emotions that may arise over being caught may lead to a dangerous or self-destructive reaction. For this reason, confronting your spouse may be safest in a therapeutic setting, explains psychiatrist Mark Banschick in his Psychology Today article “Is Your Partner a Liar?”

Let Yourself Feel

Give yourself permission to feel your feelings, reaching out to friends or family members who can help you work through your emotions. Acknowledge the full extent of your hurt to your spouse as well, particularly if you hope to be able to move forward in the relationship.

Watch for Changes

Determine whether your spouse is willing to make changes by gauging how transparent he or she is willing to be after the confrontation, advises Suzanne B. Phillips in the Psych Central article “Secrets, Lies and Relationships." A liar who shows remorse and a desire to make changes without creating excuses or lying further may be capable of increased honesty in the future.

Speak Openly

Communicate with your spouse as you decide which direction you both want to go moving forward. Know that if you choose to stay together, you will have to eventually put this situation in the past and work toward rebuilding trust in the future.

Ask for Help

Consider counseling to address any issues that may have arisen as a consequence of the betrayal. Not only can counseling serve as a safe place to work through the issues as a couple, but it can also be beneficial for both partners on an individual level.

Warnings

  • Some lies are more dangerous than others, including lies about drug abuse or sexual infidelity that could have exposed you to potential diseases. It is important to evaluate the potential danger of the lies you have been told, and remove yourself from any situation that could pose an immediate threat to your physical or emotional well-being as soon as possible. Ensuring your own safety must be the number one priority.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.