by Jenna Birch
Whether it’s singing his praises or faking an orgasm, lying about between-the-sheets fulfillment happens a lot.
“These jeans were only $30!” “No, I don’t care that your feet are on the coffee table.” White lies don’t doom a marriage, right? “We don’t want to upset, annoy or scare our spouse, so it’s easier to lie,” says biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Chemistry.com and Match.com. But fibbing is a slippery slope. “When you lie continually, you won’t be able to keep your lies straight. Your husband will find out you’re lying, and then there’s no trust.” And a marriage like that isn’t one you want to be in. Here, experts explain common lies women tell, how they can harm the relationship and what you can do instead of stretching the truth.
1. “I never talk about our personal life with my friends.”
Some women tell their girlfriends about relationship problems, knowing their guys would be upset if they found out. “It’s important for spouses to feel like their marriage is a secret, sacred space,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Carin Goldstein, creator of Be the Smart Wife. Taking private information to a friend means you’re running from a problem to avoid confrontation.
Venting about your husband’s messy closet is one thing, but don’t take serious issues public. “If you’re constantly asking a friend how to solve a problem in your marriage, then you’re going to the wrong source,” says Goldstein. “You’re stunting your relationship by trying to fix the issue with another person.”
2. “I had only one glass of wine at dinner.”
Your husband may have told you he doesn’t like how you act when you drink too much. “Maybe you flirt with other men or yell, which makes your husband critical of you,” explains Andra Brosh, PhD. So now you hide how many glasses of wine you’ve had so he’s not on the lookout for bad behavior.
The problem grows when you start layering lies. “You might stop telling your partner where you’re going out or make up stories about why you drank, which erodes trust even more.” Instead of covering up your drinking habits, address your husband’s concerns and work on solutions for valid issues together.
3. “I’ve never seen Jim outside of work.”
If you think your husband can’t handle your friendship with another man, you may think telling him about your relationship would create tension. “Partners lie about meeting up with friends of the opposite sex because they believe they won’t get caught—and they’d prefer not to open a can of worms,” says Dr. Brosh.
But if you say you don’t see a male friend and then do, innocent interactions can feel like betrayal if your husband finds out. “Tell your spouse you don’t want to jeopardize your marriage for a friendship with your coworker, but you’d like to understand what bothers him about the relationship,” says Dr. Brosh. “Work on what’s triggering the jealousy. When two people feel a sense of safety in the relationship, having an opposite-sex friendship becomes less of an issue.”
4. “I always watch what I eat.”
“I buy these amazing coffee cakes sometimes on my way to work,” says Renee from Dearborn, MI. “I think I’ll have just a piece at lunch, but end up eating half the cake. I don’t want my husband to know I’ve had that much.”
Although some men may care about their wives’ munches, the pressure to eat well is usually internal. “Women often make presumptions about their partners without ever hearing them say anything judgmental,” says Dr. Brosh. “You’re judging yourself and then blaming him for preventing you from owning up to it.” Cut yourself some slack about the occasional food indulgence. Tell your husband, and laugh about it with him. Lying about a non-issue only corrodes trust in your marriage.
5. “I wasn’t with Katie; I was only with Jennifer and Susan.”
If one of your friends continually butts heads with your husband, you may feel like spending time with her means aligning with her. “So she’ll tell him she went to lunch with someone else,” says Dr. Fisher.
“No one wants to defend her choice of friends,” says Dr. Brosh. “But you may resent your partner for ‘making you lie.’” The solution: Have a conversation with your spouse about Katie’s role in your life. Your husband may better understand the importance of your friendship—and like her a little better too.
6. “These new shoes? They were on sale.”
“I bought electronic toothbrushes from my dentist,” says Anna from Fairfield, CT. “They were $70 a piece and I said they were $50 a piece. I know my husband would’ve said our regular toothbrushes were fine if the price was too high.” Dr. Brosh says lies about purchases stem from the “power differential in the relationship, often modeled by parents growing up. The man controls the money, and the wife thinks she needs permission to purchase something.”
Agree to discuss buys over a certain amount with each other, and feel free to keep mum when the total is under that (knowing that he’ll do the same). If your husband asks about a particular item, tell the truth. Past generations of men may have held the purse strings, but that doesn’t mean your hubby does or wants to; he may just be curious.
7. “I didn’t forget to go to the bank. I got busy and figured I’d go later.”
You may not realize you tell the tiniest lies, but it probably comes from a sense you have to give a more legitimate excuse than the real reason, like simply spacing out. “Lying about little things is an avoidance of feeling shame,” says Dr. Brosh.
Small fibs signify a deeper issue of insecurity. “If your partner tends to be condescending, lying might be a direct response to that,” explains Dr. Brosh. If you notice a pattern of senseless lies, be upfront with your husband so he can have a broader view of the situation and help you work through it.
8. “Of course you’re great in bed. I’m totally satisfied.”
Whether it’s singing his praises or faking an orgasm, lying about between-the-sheets fulfillment happens a lot. “Wives don’t want to feel responsible for their husband’s shame,” says Goldstein.
Dealing with dissatisfaction this way actually deepens the issue. “If a need’s not being met, the problem will get bigger,” says Goldstein. So nip it in the bud. “First, ask yourself why you can’t orgasm. Figure out what works for your body, and then say, ‘I love it when you do this. Let’s keep doing that.’” Positive reinforcement encourages your husband to continue doing the things you like in bed, which ultimately satisfies you both. Bonus: You build his confidence and spare his feelings.
9. “No, that doesn’t bother me at all.”
The honeymoon phase causes newlyweds to insist things that really bug them don’t—and the annoyance can persist for years. If you’re afraid of rocking the boat, you may hold grievances in until you’re bubbling with anger. “Spouses blow off little things, avoiding having to talk about feelings and resolve issues,” says Goldstein. “But it’s a major issue. I just dealt with this in practice and it ended in divorce.”
A little recurring thing is a big deal. “With Twitter, Facebook and social media, there’s so much room to act out what isn’t getting resolved in marriage, confiding in another person,” says Goldstein. Avoid that and be honest with your spouse. Try: “This may sound silly, but it annoys me when you put your feet on the coffee table. You leave smudges. Could you please use the footstool?” It may take some time (and reminders) to tweak his habit, but he’ll get there—without you holding a grudge against him.
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