October 3, 2012 - Serious Struggles

Deceptions are all around us. You’ll find them in commercials, movies, and at times—even in relationships.

Right or wrong, we all expect some degree of exaggeration, pushing the envelope, and stretching the truth in the field of marketing. It may be sad, but it’s true.

But in our relationships, should we accept or tolerate deception? That may sound like a simple question with an obvious answer, but it is a frequent issue when I counsel those struggling in their marriages.

Perhaps our overexposure to deceptions in our culture has paved the way for us to believe it’s okay in our interpersonal relationships as well. It’s time to change how we view this condition—it is neither appropriate, nor healthy.

If you are not certain where you stand, it may be helpful to ask yourself these five questions regarding your relationship with your spouse or potential future spouse.

  • Am I constantly apologizing to him for my actions?
    • This might sound like a barometer for your own inappropriate behavior—and it may be. But in the process of taking a close look at yourself, it is important to determine if you are apologizing for your actions or for his distortion of what you said. (For the sake of brevity for the remainder of this post, when I state ‘him or his’ I am referring to both male and female)
  • Am I afraid to tell others what he said or what he is doing?
    • This may be an indicator of several possible problems
      • You don’t believe him yourself—only honesty will get you to where you need to be
      • You realize others will judge him—an ominous concern, if you feel that you constantly have to explain his actions
      • You don’t want to face reality—if you already know the answer, you already know that answer
  • Do I trust him?
    • It’s easy to say ‘yes’ when there is no reason to doubt, right? Actually, in much of my counseling experience there is often distrust no matter what. The question is, do you distrust everyone? Or do you only distrust him? If only him, ask yourself why and write your answers down. This helps you to be honest with yourself, and admit your concerns.
  • Is there secondary gain for him in your relationship?
    • If he is receiving money or favors from you, this must stop. There is no way to understand your relationship properly if you are living in a benefactorial manner (don’t Google that word. It doesn’t exist, but you know what I mean).
  • Have you caught him in a lie?
    • Another question under this heading should be, ‘have you avoided finding out the truth because you’re afraid of what it will mean?’ This may not be a deal breaker for your relationship. Not all lies are malicious, even though they’re always wrong. That being said, ignoring it is dead wrong. This step requires a ‘sit down’ between the two of you—not over dinner, not with the TV on, and not with the kids running around. Get a baby sitter and do it in private. If there is still a problem, ask for help from your pastor, counselor, or someone in authority you can trust.

Deception in your marriage is not okay. It is a relationship that requires trust as its foundation—nothing less will do. As you consider these questions, being honest with yourself is essential, but it is often the most difficult task.

Question: What is your advice for anyone struggling in a deceptive relationship or marriage?