28 August, 2009


I honestly don't understand. I have my opinions, but I'm obviously missing something here, 'cause I just don't get this...

A married woman puts for the following reasons why lies are necessary in a happy marriage (now, I understand "No honey, that doesn't make you look fat," but these examples in support of lying don't seem to me to speak to a happy marriage. Or to a person I'd really trust very much):

1. Spouses are always trying to trick you into admitting something they think you secretly believe. - The only defense is a lie, especially when you really do believe it. So I lie and say, "Your health is the most important thing to me. If you're OK, I'm OK." Oh, and for those who are wondering how I can admit this in such a public forum, it's easy. I'm going to lie and say I didn't do a column this week.


2. Spouses should remain constantly vigilant of subtext. - One of the less-fortunate things that happens to couples of long standing is that you lose the ability to beg for compliments—and you forget to give them. There's only so much time in a day. Between work and kids and house stuff and other people stuff, we barely have time to say good morning and good night, never mind "you are the love of my life" or "you're pretty." And after a while, it becomes too late to ask your other half if you look good in red.


3. Spouses need lying for venting purposes. - Or from my end, it would sound something like, "If you have my iPod charger, I'm sending you to Bolivia in a box." Now all of that is a lie—nobody goes to Bolivia in August. But it's the only way to express your minor irritation without it blowing up into a big thing involving tears and people feeling unappreciated and taking positions just to be right.

Did I say "Hunh???"--with the befuddled tone of voice--once already...?

Now see, here's how it would go for me in the situations she describes:

1. With a smile and a wink, followed quickly by a hug and kiss/grope that lets my hubby know I adore him, "Well, I seriously thought about abandoning you in the ER to go to the concert, but I decided I love you too much." There's no subtext, no "she doesn't love me" thoughts for him to think. It's just a statement of fact--that it was tempting (he would obviously know how much the tickets meant ot me), but I know I love him more than some music group and so of course I was at the hospital with him.

2. I don't even know how to respond to this one, as I've never played that game with anyone and I know that it's a terrible question to ask a guy. And if I DID, I'd expect my beloved to say something like, "Ask your best friend--I refuse to answer questions like that other than to say I that I love you no matter what you wear." Ideally, that would be followed by a hug and a lingering kiss.

3. I don't even understand why this one is an issue. First of all, it's not a lie in terms of attempting to deceive; it's merely use of hyperbole and silliness to vent frustration in an innocuous manner. Expressing frustration over "little" things in that way (or even saying directly, "Please don't do that; it's making me crazy") shouldn't result in fights and tears. I accept that people I love have quirks and that they feel the same way about me; my telling them their quirk is making me nuts again isn't going to destroy our relationship! (Not to mention, him constantly "borrowing" her iPod parts when she doesn't want him to, and her throwing her clothes around when she knows he hates it are both seriously passive-aggressive).

Like I said, I'm obviously "missing" something here... I try not to lie because I hate when people lie to me--it makes me wonder what else they're lying about--and so having a spouse who thinks like this woman does would make me incredibly insecure; if they don't tell me something's wrong how do I know not to do it or again or how to fix it, etc? In my experience, even "little" lies make me start doubting either the person in general, or questioning my own perceptions... all wonderful things to be doing in a romantic relationship!

I'm not endorsing brutal honesty, but it seems to me someone you trust enough to marry should be able to handle statements like, "No, I'm not okay. But just give me some space and I'll get my head on straight," or "I'll talk about it when I can be rational, if you want." Or, "It's not the best thing I've ever eaten, but I can't tell you how much it means to me that you made it with such love." Those statements are perfectly honest when Dearly Beloved has just been an absolute idiot, or when DB experimented in the kitchen and made something ghastly, but they are loving and respectful. And DB knows that the next time you are asked something and your response is positive, you can be believed (and it goes both ways).

And then there was this lovely gem that builds my faith in humanity:

We are a culture of liars, to put it bluntly, with deceit so deeply ingrained in our psyches that we hardly even notice we're engaging in it. Spam e-mail, deceptive advertising, the everyday pleasantries we don't really mean—"It's so great to meet you!" "I love that dress"—have, as Feldman puts it, become "an omnipresent white noise we've learned to tune out." And Feldman also argues that cheating is more common today than ever.

I am certainly NOT unaware of those little lies in advertising, everyday pleasantries, etc. And they drive me nuts! And I roll my eyes at most commerials/ads. I also have a very hard time telling someone they look nice when they don't, or similar lies; instead I look for something postive AND honest to say with conviction and sincerity. Or else I don't say anything on the topic.

I've been sitting here ever since I read that last quote, trying to remember the last few times I engaged in 10 minutes of conversation, and I would swear on a stack of Bibles I didn't lie three times in the entire conversation, much less the first ten minutes.

But then again, I'm obviously a liar. Just like all of us.

Did I mention that I'm "missing" something here? If this really is how most people live, no wonder that the older I get, the fewer people I meet who I actually want to get to know...


Just to clarify, I know we all have told a whopper or two in order to cover up something wrong/shameful we've done (and I tend to believe that it's usually not necessary to confess an affair if you think your spouse doesn't already know; often it's just an attempt to cope with the guilt of carrying that secret). Those kinds of lies can destroy trust, but it can be rebuilt over time and all can be forgiven eventually. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the pattern of frequent and habitual lies that supposedly everyone engages in, and upon which entire relationships are supposedly built/sustained. I can't tell you how sad that kind of thing makes me...