How to Deal with a Lying Spouse: Tips and Advice

Dr. Serenity
April 10, 2023

Dealing with a Lying Spouse: Tips for Overcoming Mistrust

If you’re married to a liar, you know how difficult it can be to trust your partner. It’s important to understand why your spouse lies and how your reaction can influence their behavior. In this article, marriage counselor Amy Morin provides helpful advice on how to deal with a lying spouse and move forward together.

The Science of Lying

Lying is a part of human nature that starts at a very young age, with some children as young as 2 years old telling their first fibs. While lying may not be intended to cause harm, it often does. People may lie for various reasons, such as self-protection, avoiding punishment or conflict, or gaining acceptance from a group or obtaining something they want.

Lying is a common behavior that many of us engage in regularly, such as complimenting a friend’s unappealing shirt or exaggerating qualifications in a job interview. Even parents may use false promises, like offering ice cream after dinner, to motivate their children to eat. Additionally, individuals are often influenced by the lying behaviors of their families. If lying was accepted or encouraged in their childhood homes, they may be more likely to do the same as adults.

However, not all lies are the same. It is essential to differentiate between intentional and unintentional lies. For instance, a husband may say he will be home at a certain time, even though he knows it is not an accurate estimate of when he will arrive. It could be that he is disorganized or unable to manage his time effectively. In contrast, if he intentionally misleads his partner about his whereabouts or actions, that is a more serious problem. Distinguishing between the two can help determine if your partner is a devoted spouse who needs better time-management skills or a lying spouse who may be hiding something from you. Ultimately, the decision of what amount of lying is acceptable or not depends on individual values and circumstances, especially when it comes to spouses.

Setting Boundaries

Just as in any relationship, honesty is crucial to maintaining a healthy and happy marriage. But what happens when one partner repeatedly crosses the line and lies about something serious, like an affair? It can be difficult to know how to react or what to do.

Recognizing the Problem

It can be easy to overlook small lies or white lies to avoid conflict. However, when a spouse lies about something major, like an affair, it can shake the foundation of the relationship. It’s important to recognize when a line has been crossed and decide how to proceed.

Seeking Help

Dealing with the pain and betrayal of a lying spouse can be overwhelming, and it’s important to seek guidance from a mental health professional if needed. Counseling can help individuals work through their emotions and decide the best path forward, either alone or as a couple.

Preparing to Confront

Before confronting a lying spouse, it’s important to consider how to respond to different scenarios. There may be uncomfortable truths to face, but it’s important to be prepared for any outcome. The lying spouse may have a valid explanation or may continue to cover up their behavior.


Expectations After hearing out the lying spouse, it’s important to clearly state expectations and deal-breakers. This may include actions that need to be taken to save the relationship, but it’s important to allow room for second chances while also setting boundaries. It may be helpful to adopt a “three strikes, you’re out” policy and be prepared to follow through with consequences if necessary.

Revising Your Conduct

Could your own conduct be contributing to your spouse’s propensity to lie?

It’s possible that your husband may lie to you because he fears your negative reaction to his words or actions. For instance, he may choose to lie about who he has been with or where he has been after spending time with his friends, especially if you have expressed disapproval of his friends before.

As one husband stated, “I’d rather lie about what I’m doing than give up the things I enjoy. Besides, if I’m going to be in trouble anyway, at least now there will be a reason.” This suggests that a partner’s actions might exacerbate a man’s inclination to lie to avoid conflicts at home.

In such cases, altering your conduct could be the solution. When both partners ease up on each other, they may realize that the behaviors they object to are not as bad as they seem, or at the very least not worth damaging the relationship by fueling more mistrust.

However, if a spouse continually disregards the other’s feelings, he may engage in inappropriate and harmful activities, such as lying. In such circumstances, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship.

As trust is gradually restored and the spouse begins to feel that he or she will not be lied to, the person’s conduct is likely to soften toward the spouse. However, if an affair is the underlying cause, it may take a long time for the healing process to take effect.

Changing any type of behavior, such as being suspicious of your partner, necessitates time and patience. Additionally, changes in his or her actions will require time. As a result, both partners should provide each other with space and engage in open, honest discussions. Over time, most relationships will improve, but in certain situations, one or both partners may determine that the harm caused by deceit is irreparable.

Author Dr. Serenity

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