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Dishonesty comes in many forms, including lying, omitting information, hiding things from a partner and infidelity. Finding out your spouse has been dishonest in any way can feel like a blow to the relationship. Honesty is the foundation for a solid relationship, but that doesn't mean yours is over if you find out your spouse lied. If your spouse feels bad about the betrayal and wants to improve, you may have a chance at repairing the broken trust and moving forward together.
Look for Ownership for the Lies
Does your spouse take responsibility for the lies? Does he seem sorry to have betrayed you? Before you can rebuild trust in the marriage, your spouse needs to own up to the mistakes. If he only seems sorry because he got caught in a lie, he may not be ready to commit to an honest relationship with you.
Ask the Questions You Need to Ask
You shouldn't be expected to just get over the dishonesty without time to process the situation. You might need clarification on the circumstances surrounding the lies or what the truth actually is. You have the right to ask those questions of your spouse. If she is unwilling to talk about the situation or refuses to answer your questions, it can be a red flag that she's not ready to rebuild the trust in the relationship.
When asking questions, make sure they're actually helpful to your understanding and healing in this situation. Don't ask questions just to put your spouse in an uncomfortable position or to get back at her for being dishonest.
Express Your Feelings
It's natural to feel hurt when your spouse lies. He should understand those feelings, but it's also an important part of the healing process to express those emotions to him. He may not fully understand the impact of his lies. If you expect him to be open and honest with you, you should give him the same. Instead of calling him names or yelling at him for lying, calmly tell him how it made you feel. You might say, "I felt betrayed when you lied about what you and your friends did when you went out last week." This opens up an honest discussion about the situation.
Be Willing to Forgive
You can take your time to reach the point of forgiveness, but you have to be willing to forgive your partner at some point, so your marriage can rebound from the dishonesty. Forgiveness doesn't excuse your spouse's behavior or mean you're OK with her lying to you. It simply means you release the negative feelings you have about the situation. It helps you regain control over your emotions instead of being constantly angry or bitter over the lies.
You may also need to forgive yourself. Some people take the blame themselves when a spouse lies. You might tell yourself if you weren't so trusting or gullible you wouldn't have fallen for the lies. You might believe your behaviors somehow caused your spouse to be dishonest. If you have those feelings or other feelings of guilt, it's time to work on accepting yourself, flaws and all. Then, acknowledge that it was your spouse's decision to be dishonest, and that it had nothing to do with you.
Confront Your Fears
Trusting your spouse after he's dishonest is a risk. He may betray you again. That comes with at least some amount of fear. You might worry about being embarrassed if he lies to you again. You might wonder if you can live without him if he continues to be dishonest. You might start to believe that everyone will lie to you. Confronting those fears and building your confidence helps you learn to trust again. Trust that you are strong enough to get through this situation with or without your spouse. When you start busting through those fears, you become more confident and can slowly begin in trust again.
Offer Your Trust
When you feel ready, you can extend your trust to your spouse again. There's no way to know for sure if your spouse will be honest, but you also can't continue a marriage without at least trying to trust again. Keep in mind that all people have flaws, even you. If you feel your spouse's lying is something she can overcome, put yourself back out there with trust.
If you're not quite ready to trust again, consider attending counseling together. A therapist can help you identify the roadblocks that are keeping you from fully trusting your spouse again.
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Shelley Frost writes professionally on a full-time basis, specializing in lifestyle, family, parenting and relationship topics. She holds an education degree and has extensive experience working with kids and parents.
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