Hello Friends! Susan here again with this week's blog question. The sun is shining and it brings a brightness to my mood as well. I have been feeling a high of gratitude this week even though the temperature range has been so low, keeping me indoors. I am grateful for the warm, peaceful home God has blessed me with! A calm and safe space is so beneficial to growth and thriving. I pray that each of you is able to create that within your own life. It is such a joy to see God’s people fully alive.
Today’s Question: How do I stay well in my marriage when my husband continues to lie to me? Our marriage is riddled with emotional abuse and I am learning to separate myself from the destructive blame shifting and gaslighting behavior, but I don’t know how to separate myself from the lies and dishonesty. My husband repeatedly tells me he wants me to trust him and he isn’t hiding anything from me, yet repeatedly I find that he actually is lying. The greatest example of this is when my husband took a promotion at work and intentionally hid it from me because he had previously told me he would NOT take the promotion (because it would create hardship for our family).
My counselor tells me it is impossible to have a relationship without trust. How do I have a relationship with my husband if he continues to lie and hide things? When confronted, he says he knows it’s wrong but he then gives reasons for lying because of his brokenness from his childhood.
I don’t want a divorce, yet I find myself in this continual cycle of thinking “maybe now he won’t lie anymore”….but the deception keeps happening. I don’t know how to have a relationship with him.
Thank you for your help!
Susan’s Response: I honor your desire to stay well in your destructive marriage. That is a challenging endeavor and you will need ongoing support. I am happy to read that you are meeting with a counselor. Even more so, I pray the Holy Spirit will guide you and direct you on your path.
The way you might stay well in a marriage, while you are perpetually lied to, is the same way you might stay well when there is blame shifting, gaslighting and other emotional abuse. All of these patterns of behavior are dishonest and destructive to the relationship. When staying well in a destructive marriage, you must take your focus off of your husband’s problem and focus on your problem and your wellbeing.
Let’s clearly state your problem given the information you have provided. You are married to a man who has repeatedly lied to you. So what can you do to help yourself with your problem? You have already gotten wise counsel to inform you that close relationships require trust. Yet, you continue to seek a relationship with someone who is not trustworthy. Proverbs 25:19 tells us, “Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.” Meaning if you proceed under these conditions, you can expect to bring yourself pain.
In the Leslie Vernick community, we talk about the importance of building CORE strength. The first step in developing CORE strength is to be courageously committed to the truth; no more pretending. Could it be that your deep desire for your marriage to stay intact is leading you to have wishful thinking that “maybe now he won’t lie anymore”? You have not listed any reasons why this might be true. Is he doing anything to repair your trust? It sounds like he still gives excuses for lying when he gets caught.
Perhaps your first step in being well, is to settle your mind on what is true. You are married to a man who lies repeatedly and makes excuses. Your marriage is riddled with emotional abuse. Until evidence of a new pattern develops in the relationship, you are deceiving yourself to believe otherwise.
The next step in building CORE strength is being open to feedback from wise others and the Holy Spirit. I will confirm what you have already heard. You will not be able to have a safe relationship with your husband if he continues to be untrustworthy. You can, however, go on living with him and stay in the marriage but you won’t be able to rely on him.
As you stated, you have been able to separate yourself from other forms of destruction but are still struggling with how to separate from the perpetual lying. Detaching from destructive behaviors means that you do what you can to protect yourself and you let go of trying to change what you can not control. You can not trust your husband to be honest and mistrust won’t create a safe relationship; these things are outside of your control. But if you are diligent about developing safety in other areas of your life, you may be able to stay well. How can you gain other reliable support in your life? What do you need to do in order to gain emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial safety for yourself?
My main point is, being well needs to be the goal even if your husband does not change. If you don’t feel safe, you can stay but you can not stay well. Hear me, dear one, you will not be able to live life to the full until you take your own well being seriously. With the help of Christ, can you trust yourself to do that?
If you are curious to learn more about these steps and how to Walk in CORE Strength, be on the lookout for more information on how to register for our upcoming 3 month small group coaching program.
Also, on February 16th, Leslie will be giving a free training called “When You’re Not Okay then I’m Not OK Either; What’s the difference between my problem, your problem and our Problem?” Click here to register for the training.
Beloved reader, when the truth of a relationship is not what you want it to be, how do you go about learning to accept what is and still be okay?
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