We are married and about to have a baby, but my husband can’t stop lying. The lies revolve mostly around money and work. And he lies almost always because he’s scared to tell me the truth. I get mad at him and I usually have to fix the problem he’s trying to hide. I’m a natural problem solver and good with money and he’s not.
I feel like trust is broken beyond repair.
This dynamic is very common. One partner is better at managing problems and the other is not. The person who is good at dealing with issues as they come up gets frustrated with the partner who struggles to solve problems. Eventually, the partner who doesn’t manage problems very well starts concealing issues to avoid upsetting their partner. This only makes the situation worse. Now not only are there unresolved issues to deal with, but there is also a lack of trust.
To breakout of this pattern requires both partners to change their behavior. For the most part, people lie when they’ve done something to upset or disappoint a partner. To get a partner to be more honest about issues and mistakes, it helps to try to understand his or her perspective. Rather than judge a partner for being irresponsible, try to empathize with him or her. Tell your partner, that you understand he or she tries to do the right thing, but doesn’t always get it right. Tell him or her, it’s OK — everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If you can try to make your partner feel understood, rather than judged, he or she will be more likely to tell you the truth. As a general rule, people tell the truth when they feel that it’s safe to do so.
It’s also important for the partner who makes mistakes to learn to approach them ahead on. Avoiding or ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away. It’s better to get things out in the open so that solutions can be found.
Relationships work best when couples work together as a team — when couples listen to each other, understand each other, and work together to solve problems.
We wrote Broken Trust to help couples learn how to communicate with each other in ways that promote honesty, empathy, and teamwork.