Q. I am a 39 year old wife and mother of 3 children with one on the way. My husband repeatedly lies to me and waits for me to find out, confront him, and finally admits then acts as if nothing happened. I have been married for 15 years and am at the end of my rope with this regular event. How do I handle this? We were in counseling for a few months last year and he lied to the counselor repeatedly which served no good purpose, so we ended it. Any advice you can offer would be most appreciated. Molly
A. As I say in my book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who repeatedly lies to you. So the only thing you can do is to ask yourself is what’s going on with you? You have been married to this man for 15 years. You say this is repetitive and he is unrepentant, meaning he is unwilling to get help for his problem. Even in counseling he is lying. So my advice to you is to ask yourself what is your problem here and what are you going to do about your problem.
Let me explain. Your husband has a problem in that he lies and is a liar. That is not your problem but you keep trying to fix his problem. The difficulty with that is that you can’t fix another person’s problem. The only person you can work on is you. So therefore you need to ask yourself what is your problem?
Your problem as I read it is you don’t’ like living like this. You don’t like being married to a man who you don’t trust and who doesn’t tell you the truth. You don’t like the fact that he is unwilling to change or work on his problem. You don’t like playing detective or mommy to catch him in his lies. So what are you going to do about your problem?
Without knowing the nature of the lies I cannot give you specific advice but I would encourage you to go to counseling yourself to figure out why you have continued trying to have a close relationship with someone who repeatedly lies to you and doesn’t care that this habit hurts you and your marriage. Depending on the nature of his lies, you may also have to ask yourself why you are putting yourself at risk for sexually transmitted diseases or even having another child with a man who clearly is not invested in having a good relationship with you.
These questions may seem harsh but you say that you are at the end of your rope and don’t know how to handle this. How do you imagine a healthy woman would handle this? Don’t blame yourself for his behavior, but ask yourself why have you put yourself in the role of trying to control his behavior and why have been willing to put up with it for so long?
You don’t say whether or not your husband claims to be a believer, but you may need to enlist the help of your pastor to confront your husband. Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother sins against you, “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” That means if he refuses to listen, the closeness of the relationship changes. It doesn’t mean you divorce him necessarily, but you don’t have the closeness of fellowship and intimacy with someone you don’t trust. I know that makes you sad, as it would any woman in your situation, but if you want to be healthy, you must live in truth and reality.
Remember, in the end, the only person you can work on is yourself. Get the help you need to respond to this situation in wisdom and strength, not fear and frustration.