“My husband is a compulsive liar. He lies about the small things and the big things. Even when he knows he is lying, he cannot help himself. He tries to cover up but now I find it difficult to believe anything and have this urge to cross-check and it is affecting our relationship. How do I deal with a lying husband?” wrote Nancy (name changed) to our relationship counselors.
Nancy’s situation is not unique. Relationship lies, especially by men, have been sadly normalized with stereotypes like “lies are a man’s cheat code to a happy marriage”. In fact, according to research, men resort to selfish lies more often than women do. Other studies also point out that men are more likely than females to tell ‘harmless’ white lies as well as those of a more serious nature.
Many men feel that lies about small things are okay as long as they are loyal in the marriage. But lies are lies, and little by little they can erode one of the biggest gifts that two people can give each other – the gift of trust! So how does one deal with dishonesty in marriage? We’re here to help you figure it out. Let’s begin by understanding why your husband keeps secrets in the first place.
Why Do Husbands Lie About Small Things?
Getting to the bottom of his rationale behind lying can offer you greater clarity on how to deal with a lying spouse. Men can lie about petty things for various reasons:
- He may be resorting to white lies in the relationship to spare your feelings
- He could be trying to hide a dirty secret
- The lies could be a way to dodge conflict
- He could be trying to manipulate your reaction to something he know you’d have a problem with
“You cannot help but become a lying husband if you want to keep peace and avoid conflict. If I tell my wife I forgot to get the cream cheese she would sulk, but if I say the store had run out, the situation wouldn’t escalate,” says Joseph Ruskin (name changed).
Lying in relationships has been normalized for men
Many men claim they would lie less if women reacted in a less volatile manner and were more chilled out. In all our research, one thing that came out strongly was that a husband lies to avoid conflict or to hide things he’s sure will trigger a reaction from his wife. However, the bottom line is, if a husband lies and hides things quite often, it is a breach of trust in a relationship. However, from a husband’s perspective, harmless lies protect and preserve the relationship with their spouse. So, he may tell simple lies like:
- “No, baby! You have not put on weight”
- “I was not checking out that hot chick!”
- “I didn’t smoke a cigarette”
- “I didn’t break the vase”
- “She is just a friend, you are just overthinking”
- “That meal was fabulous”
To men, it may seem like these lies are a way of expressing love and care in a relationship. However, this tendency can spiral out of control and escalate into one of the bad habits that ruin relationships. In the long run, it can cause the relationship to become toxic.
A wife who is lied to constantly will feel manipulated and tricked. She may also feel that her husband does not credit her with enough intelligence. This can cause deep-seated resentment to take hold in the relationship, gradually driving the two partners apart. So, a marriage of lies is not sustainable in the long run. But if a wife is careful and observant, she may identify the secretive husband signs before it’s too late.
Related Reading: 6 Things Men Can Do To Win Women’s Trust
7 Common Signs Of A Lying Husband To Watch Out For
“My husband is a compulsive liar” or “My husband keeps lying to me”. Surely, no woman comes to this conclusion lightly. That’s because when you live with your husband, you know him inside out. It is not tough to spot the body language signs of a lying deceitful husband.
You know how he reacts to situations, you can tell the kind of mood he is in just by the expression on his face/tone of his voice, you have seen how he addresses tricky challenges. So, if you can’t shake off the feeling that your spouse is being evasive and deceitful, it may be time to start paying closer attention to his behaviors/mannerisms. Lying has a pattern, so here are some sure-shot lying husband signs to watch out for:
1. Questions your questions
To know for sure whether your husband lies and hides things, pay attention to how he responds when he feels he has been put in a spot. A lying cheating husband will avoid answering a direct question. Instead, he’d use a variety of tactics to deviate the spouse from the topic and redirect the question back at them. Chances are, you will fall for it as well. A classic example:
You: Are you attracted to her?
Him: How could you think I would be attracted to her!
This gives him time to think and come up with a fitting lie to throw you off, besides he has already used guilt-tripping effectively to make you second-guess your instincts. If you feel you are being played, be stern and ask him to answer in a direct “Yes” or “No”. If he still takes time to answer, it’s one of the signs he’s hiding something.
Another way to check if you’re dealing with a liar in a relationship is to check for gaslighting. It’s when you catch someone in a lie and they blame you. They try to make you question your judgment and manipulate you into thinking that you are wrong. A gaslighter uses the following statements to make you feel guilty:
- “It’s unbelievable!”
- “Why can’t you just trust me?”
- “Why are you being so insecure?”
2. Uses fillers to respond quite often
Cheating lying husbands need time to come up with a lie that will sound believable and truthful to their wives. And so, they may take time to respond to any questions you pose. In this context, here are some lying husband signs:
- He uses fillers like “umm”, “ah huh”, etc. to buy time to formulate a believable lie
- He takes long pauses/goes off on tangents to avoid the topic at hand
- He stutters or excessively uses words like “you know”, “I mean”
- You can also spot a change in the pitch of his pitch, owing to anxiety/nervousness
Dealing with lying in a relationship is not easy. Check if he is being fidgety, sweaty, nervous, or tense. Check if your husband is speaking more formally with you than he normally does. This could be a telling sign that your husband keeps secrets.
3. Takes longer response time, even for easy questions
Even with questions that can be easily answered within seconds with a “yes” or a “no”, a lying cheating husband may look for an escape to avoid tricky situations. Because lying takes effort, words don’t flow as smoothly when someone is telling a lie. They have to pause and search for words to fit. Unnecessary pauses or looking for ways to delay a response could be indicators that you’re dealing with a lying spouse.
What to do when your husband lies to you all the time? Be watchful of how he responds to even the simplest of questions. For instance, if you ask him, “Were you at golf?”, and instead of promptly responding with “yes” or “no”, he pretends to be too caught up in taking off his coat and shoes, arranging those in the closet before responding, this could mean he is biding time and thinking of the “right answer”.
4. His speech patterns keep changing
Counselor Pooja Priyamvada says, “Evasive body language is a sure-shot sign of compulsive lying. A lying spouse will avoid eye contact, fiddle, fumble, and try to make excuses. People’s lips become pale and their faces become white/red when they’re lying. In spite of all their pretended ease, their body language will have a different story to tell.”
Is your spouse lying about money? Or withholding information about other things? Take this quick quiz to check if you’re dealing with a liar in a relationship:
- Do you notice hesitation in your partner’s speech? Yes/No
- Do they blink rapidly while trying to come up with a believable story to cover their tracks? Yes/No
- Do you often find your partner avoiding eye contact while talking to you? Yes/No
- Do you find them restless or fidgety when they talk to you? Yes/No
- Do they bite their lip/sweat/slightly blush? Yes/No
- Do they use fabricated words with a fake smile that does not reach the eyes? Yes/No
- Do they stand with crossed arms/sit with legs crossed/hide their hands in pockets? Yes/No
- Do they cover their face, rub their eyes/nose more often to evade confrontation? Yes/No
If you have answered in the affirmative to most of the above questions, chances are that you have a cheating lying husband. Pay close attention to their body language (like their voice suddenly cracking or becoming high-pitched) to check if you’re being deceived by someone you love. Dealing with lying in a relationship is not easy but the only way to handle the situation is to be aware of the reality and for that, you have to keep a watch on certain things.
5. Missing time
How to know if someone is hiding something? Pooja says, “There will be a lot of time unaccounted for in their schedule. To avoid having to explain where they were during this time, they would either act distant or shower you with expensive gifts without any reason.”
To ascertain if your hunch about the signs of dishonesty in a relationship has any merit to it, ask yourself:
- Does your spouse suddenly have a hectic schedule with no time to spend with you?
- Do you often hear complaints of an increased workload?
- Have their office meetings been getting stretched late into the night?
- Are there any sudden, unexplained disappearing acts?
- Do they always have errands to run?
If you see them working overtime or coming home late almost every night because they were “helping out a buddy in crisis”, it could be one of the classic lies cheaters tell. If this behavior is new or recent, then there is definitely something fishy going on. For instance, he could be lying about drinking in a relationship.
6. The versions of his lies keep changing
The worst lies in a relationship lack the elements of consistency. Since it is a made-up story spun from the figments of the liar’s imagination, it keeps on changing every time someone probes about it. The inconsistencies in recalling accounts, even in minor details, are solid proof that you have a lying spouse.
If you suspect that your husband lies all the time, ask him to recall events backward rather than forward in time. He will probably goof up in the little details. For example, start at the end of a story and ask them to explain what happened right before that point. And then, before that… and so on. This could sound a bit like you are trying to interrogate him but becomes a necessity if you can’t shake off the feeling of being deceived by someone you love.
If this sounds too rigorous or you want to be more subtle in uncovering your husband’s dishonest ways, a better approach would be to suddenly ask him a question related to some incident he told you a few days back. If he was lying he would not know where to pick up from suddenly. If he wasn’t lying, he would be able to repeat things word by word without a thought.
7. Guards phone with his life
A man may lie for several reasons, sadly infidelity is among the frontrunners in this list. If the reason behind your husband’s lies and coverups is another woman, you will see certain tell-tale cheating husband signs:
- He will start password-protecting his devices all of a sudden
- His phone is always kept face down
- He goes to a corner to pick up some calls or does not pick up calls when you are around
- He gets defensive and angrily says, “How dare you look at my email?”
- He hides his texts from you
- He carries his devices around like a limb, lest you chance upon something he doesn’t want you to
These signs he’s hiding something on his phone shouldn’t be taken lightly. Also, people lie not just about their devices but about certain places too. For example, “You shouldn’t just show up at my workplace” or “Hey, this is my man/woman cave. Don’t touch anything here and respect my privacy”.
Related Reading: 7 Agonizing Signs Your Husband Doesn’t Love You Anymore
How To Cope And Deal With A Lying Husband?
Lies – be it about small things like smoking a cigarette or keeping big secrets like an extramarital affair – have no place in a healthy relationship. Even if his lying isn’t tied to something as sinister as cheating, it is still a cause for concern because it points to bad communication in the relationship.
So, if your husband lies all the time, it is time to seriously think about what you can do to manage this situation effectively. Now is the time to act and try things to make sure he changes that. For that, you need a solid plan for setting boundaries with a lying spouse.
This plan can feature different techniques. The first step is improving communication so that he feels safe confiding in you. At the very least you’d want to let him know that you know that he is lying and you can spot it. To that end, here are a few tips on how to fix a marriage after lies:
1. Review his lying pattern
Dealing with men who lie about everything starts with reviewing the types of lies he has been telling you:
- Does he lie to paint himself in a promising light?
- Is it to avoid shame because he cannot figure out how to talk to a partner about his dysfunctional family?
- Has he been lying to keep the details of his past relationships under wraps?
- Is he trying to conceal career challenges and financial status with lies?
- Is he trying to keep an affair a secret and lies constantly because he wants to have both women in his life?
- Is he lying out of compulsion – meaning, lying is a part of his personality and life and he is a pathological liar?
If you review his lying pattern, you will know where it is stemming from and what’s the gravity of the situation. Is it just white lies that he is in a habit of uttering or it’s more dangerous and he is trying to gaslight you? Or is your spouse lying about money? Understanding the degrees of lies will help you identify the next step in setting boundaries with a lying spouse.
Related reading: 12 Warning Signs Of Gaslighting And 5 Ways To Deal With It
2. Reflect on how you will react if he tells you the truth
The second step is to contemplate your reactions to him telling the truth. The premise is simple – people lie because they don’t want to be made to feel guilty about their actions. So, imagine the scenarios involving your husband’s lies. For instance, if he has been lying to you to spend time with his friends, assess how you’d react if he was honest about it. Would you get angry or retaliate? Or would you make an effort to give him space in the relationship that he clearly needs?
Or if he forgot to buy groceries one day, would you yell at him and blow things out of proportion? Or would you remind yourself that not sweating the small stuff strengthens a relationship and let it slide? If your response to his honesty and truth is not positive, then you too have a part to play in the toxic lying pattern that has taken hold in your relationship. So, if you’re losing trust in him, understand that he too needs a safe and trusted environment that values honesty and encourages him to speak the truth.
3. Focus on improving communication in the relationship
Deal with the negative lying pattern by improving communication in your relationship so that your spouse feels comfortable opening up to you. Tell him that you are hurt that he doesn’t trust you and keeps on lying to keep things comfortable in the marriage. Accept your flaws of impulsive and irrational reactions as well.
Psychologist Nandita Rambhia advises, “Instead of using the word compromise, use the words like adjustment and unconditional acceptance. How do we adjust to each other? How do we learn to accept each other? This way, you feel more in control of the relationship, keeping your self-respect and own needs in mind.”
Talking about adjustment (instead of unhealthy compromise), the Gottman Repair Checklist mentions a couple of phrases that can help you heal from the effects of lying as well as false accusations in a relationship:
- “I agree with part of what you’re saying”
- “Let’s find our common ground”
- “I never thought of things that way”
- “What are your concerns?”
- “Let’s agree to include both our views in a solution”
4. Confront him about lying and dishonesty
“I think my husband keeps lying to me about small things. Is he lying to me or am I paranoid?” Concerns like these are bound to weigh on your mind when you’re figuring out how to deal with a lying spouse. A simple and straightforward solution is to confront him about his lies and the reason behind them.
If you keep saying, “My husband is a pathological liar and cheated on me”, confronting him is a powerful way to express your hurt and resentment. Talk to him about how betrayed you feel on account of his dishonesty in marriage. You must also gather adequate evidence about the affair before you sit down to talk to him:
- Invest in a spy cam in case you suspect he’s using your home for clandestine meetings with his lover
- Get good spyware to clone his phone/computer and track his activities virtually
- Check for hotel and flight bills in his emails, text messages, and credit card statements
5. Work together as a team
Sarah wrote to Bonobology, asking, “I married a liar. He lied at the beginning of the relationship but I forgave him and we moved on. Now, I’ve discovered he is lying to me still. How do I trust my husband again after he lied?” Nandita explains, “It is extremely important that both partners continue to respect each other and themselves. They need to be empathetic and understand that while the fault lies with one of them, they both have a common interest in mind – relationship repair.”
Perhaps, the next time you catch him in a lie, try not to lash out or get into a fight. Instead, talk to him calmly and tell him that you know he is lying to you and you’d like to understand why. A display of empathy can go a long way in helping you break down the wall of lies and deceit that is driving you apart from your husband, and help you both find common ground for conflict resolution.
Keeping in mind the importance of being empathetic, here are some questions to rebuild trust in a relationship, according to the Gottman Repair Checklist:
- “Can you make things safer for me?”
- “I need your support right now”
- “This is important to me. Please listen”
- “Can we take a break?”
- “Can we talk about something else for a while?”
6. Seek therapy to deal with a lying husband
Lies can tie you and your spouse in a cobweb of toxicity. Your husband’s constant lies can become an emotional trigger for you, taking a toll on your mental health and making you lash out at him or constantly suspect him even when he is telling the truth. This, in turn, can embolden your husband’s tendency to lie, pushing him to resort to more cover-ups and dishonesty to avoid conflict in the marriage.
Often, couples get sucked so deep into this vicious cycle that they find it impossible to break free from it. That’s when counseling for lying can be immensely helpful. A trained marriage counselor can help you get to the root of your individual issues and learn how to manage them effectively so that they don’t get in the way of you building a healthy relationship.
They can also help you work through any unresolved relationship issues that may have caused lies and dishonesty to seep into your bond. If you’d like to explore the option of going into therapy, skilled and experienced marriage counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you. Don’t wait for a long time to see things in a good light again.
Related Reading: Relationship Counseling – Everything You Need To Know
7. Consider moving on
When you’re in a marriage and there is so much at stake, putting on a façade of a happy couple for the world can feel like a reasonable, less daunting choice than walking out. However, if lying is tied to serious issues like infidelity or is a sign of a manipulative husband who will do whatever it takes to keep you under his thumb, putting up with his behavior can have serious consequences for your mental health.
Besides, it indicates that your husband neither cares for you nor respects you. You can be sure that such a partner has nothing to offer you. In such circumstances, walking out may be a far better choice than staying on and letting him chip away at your personality, self-esteem, and self-worth. If despite all your efforts to make things right, your husband lies and hides things, don’t feel guilty for ending the marriage and starting afresh.
- It’s important to figure out why he’s lying in the first place
- Only you can look for body language signs he’s lying
- Don’t make him feel obligated to introduce you to his kid
- Also look for gaps in his stories
- Confront him about his habits in a calm manner
Many couples who have been struck by the vice of lies and deceit agree that this toxic pattern can crack or break the very foundations of trust. The best way to save your marriage from this torment is to catch the lying bug in time and crush it. We have shared with you some of the most trusted ways of dealing with a lying husband and saving your marriage from the ill effects of secrecy and dishonesty. Give these an honest try, but if the lying and secrets don’t stop, don’t hesitate to put yourself ahead of the shame of a marriage you find yourself in.
It means misleading by leaving out a critical piece of information and letting the recipient draw the wrong conclusion.
Maybe you’re lying about your past in a relationship. Or it may be just white lies. Regardless of what you’re lying about, you must consider counseling for lying. It will help you improve communication and get to the root of why you’re lying.
Only you can understand why he is lying. Do you get argumentative or yell at him if he makes small mistakes? Chances are he lies to you to avoid such a situation. He could be lying to you because he is cheating or there could be deeper issues in the relationship. You can confront him or look for counseling too.
There is no reason not to stay with your lying husband. But if you feel that his lies are taking a toll on your mental health and you see no sign of him changing, then you can think of walking out.