“The truth only hurts when you want to believe a lie.” Jennifer McVey
Most of us would agree that lying to our spouses is wrong. We understand that principle intellectually, but that doesn’t stop us from telling little white lies occasionally in our relationships.
For instance, we withhold truths that might hurt our partner’s feelings. We may leave out the details of an experience in order to maintain the peace in the relationship and we might even exaggerate the truth a bit to make him or her feel better. We can justify these types of lies because we know it comes from a loving and protective place for both our partners and for the health of the relationship.
But there is one type of lie that more than half of us tell regularly – both to ourselves and our partners – that might seem harmless on the surface, but is actually the most damaging lie we tell in our marriages: lying about how we feel.
The Normal Bar, one of the most extensive studies ever completed on relationships, found that 59% of men and 56% of women lie about their feelings.
They suppress emotions and say they’re fine, when they’re far from it. They pretend to be happy and content, when they’re really feeling sad, lost, and alone inside the relationship. And they avoid the difficult conversations – that clearly need to be had – by convincing themselves that maybe things aren’t really as bad as we think.
But when we suppress emotions and say we’re fine, we’re essentially lying to ourselves and our partners, which creates emotional damage and barriers to intimacy.
It’s damaging to us personally. Most of us were never taught to accept, embrace or express our emotions. But ignoring or disowning our emotions doesn’t make them go away. Instead, those emotions fester beneath the surface until they finally erupt.
It’s damaging to our partners. When we don’t share with our partners how we really feel, we’re not telling the truth of who we are and that doesn’t allow them to really know us. If our partners don’t understand who we really are as individuals, then they don’t have the information they need to be successful in meeting our needs.
It’s damaging to the relationship. Two people cannot truly connect with one another when one or both of them isn’t telling the truth about how they feel. This is one of the reasons why so many relationships suffer or stagnate over time.