What are the lies we tell? Maybe we withhold truths that might hurt our partner’s feelings. Maybe leave out some of the details of an experience that we think might upset them. Maybe we exaggerate the truth a little here and there to make our partner feel better.
Now, most of us would agree that lying to our spouses is wrong, or that lying in general is wrong. We understand that principle intellectually, but that doesn’t stop us from telling those little white lies occasionally in our marriage. We want to keep the peace in the relationship, and we don’t want to hurt our spouse intentionally, so we lie. Just a little. We justify it because we know it comes from a loving place for our partner and for the health of the relationship.
There is one type of lie though, that we tell regularly. It might seem harmless on the surface, but is actually the most damaging lie we tell in our marriages.
What is it?
Lying about how we feel.
Think about that for a minute. How many times has your spouse asked you how you are and you replied with “fine”? How many times has anyone asked you how you are and you have not actually really said what you were feeling? If you are like me, or the majority of people, probably a lot, but you are not alone.
The Normal Bar, who completed one of the most extensive studies done on relationships, found that 59% of men and 56% of women lie about their feelings. More than HALF of us are regularly lying about our feelings to ourselves, and to our partners!
So how do we do this? What are the lies we tell?
We suppress emotions and say we’re “fine”, even when we are not.
We pretend to be happy and content but we really feel sad, lost, and alone.
We avoid the difficult conversations by convincing ourselves that things aren’t as bad as we think.
When someone does something that feels bad for us, we don’t speak up and let them know.
When we say we’re fine, and we are not, we are suppressing our emotions. We’re essentially lying to ourselves and our partners, and this creates emotional damage and barriers to intimacy. Two people cannot truly connect with one another when one or both are not telling the truth about how they feel. It is damaging to our relationship, to our partner, and to us personally. This is one of the reasons why so many relationships suffer, and distance grows over time.
Now, many of us were never taught to really embrace or express our emotions, and we learned to kind of avoid them or not let them really show. The problem is that ignoring or disowning our emotions doesn’t make them go away. We don’t feel better by ignoring them and stuffing them down. There are still there waiting beneath the surface until they finally erupt. Kind of like a beach ball that you try to hold under the water. At some point it comes back up, and usually with some force.
This does not help us to feel safe and free to express in our relationship, but it also does not really let our partner know who we are and what we need. When we don’t express how we feel, we are not telling the truth of who we are and we are not creating space for an intimate connection. This doesn’t give our spouse a way to understand us or have the information they need to meet our needs. So it is damaging to ourselves, our partner, and our marriage.
The next time your spouse asks you how you are, be brave and bold and let them know how you are feeling. Be willing to express those emotions and open the door to a deeper connection and understanding.