Lies in marriage is a big reason for divorce. But if you’re getting divorced because of it, how do you heal yourself from the lies? How do you cope with the pent up resentment? And how do you move on? Here’s one reader’s story and question:
How do I reconcile lies in marriage–being lied to for our whole marriage (at least 12 years, but probably the whole time…19 years) and trying not to feel gypped out of a “good” life?
I have three great boys that I wouldn’t have, of course, but I feel like being lied to this whole time has made my life feel wrong and not real. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but I’m struggling so hard right now that I was duped for so long and my husband felt it was ok to use me for decades to cover up his secrets (and continues to lie).
I am so sorry to hear your ex husband lied to you during your marriage. It is extremely painful to learn about lies in marriage–that someone we love and trust was not being upfront with us. It is a form of deception and betrayal, which fractures the history of the relationship.
At some point in life, everyone is sadly victim to lies in marriage, and the feeling of distrust is horrible. Our faith is shattered and we find it difficult to trust moving forward.
In fact, according to emotion expert, Paul Ekman, a lie involves two factors: intent and lack of notification of the other person. Liars consciously choose to fabricate the truth and do a really great job at not let others know they are doing this.
Lies build upon themselves like a snowball and create bigger lies. What ends up happening is liars create a false version of reality and it distances them from who they really are. And with some people, the lie becomes the truth and the lens through which they live through.
I am someone who suffered lies in marriage and was confronted with the same question – was my life real? Where his emotions real towards me? What if anything was real in my marriage?
And the answer I came to accept and believe is my memories are exactly that – mine. And his are his. I made the conscious choice to believe he was genuine because that was my experience at the time. And I was genuine in those moments. Every moment.
My ex is the one who has to live with wondering if he was honest in our marriage – that is not a burden I let him pass to me anymore. More than likely he was living a lie with me – and how sad for him. To me that means he was not present or living in his truth. I can definitely say that I was and I would not give him the power to take that away from me. When we allow liars to manipulate our stories from our past, they “win.” And we give our power away.
Nonetheless, I know it is so incredibly tough to trust yourself and others again as a result of lies in marriage. Here are some tips to start the recovery process:
1. Let yourself be angry
Yes – you get to vent and BE ANGRY! This is part of what you get to do to process what happened. Your mind is absorbing what’s happened and you are realizing where you are. And you get to come to terms with what has happened. How much time should that take? Whatever amount you choose, just make sure to stick with it. I like to encourage my Divorce Rehab™ clients to set a timer for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever feels “needed”. Sometimes it’s one hour, other days it’s five minutes. Nonetheless, once that buzzer goes off, you get to move on with your day and the anger stay in the past.
2. Forgive yourself for not knowing
I know this is NOT easy to do! Forgiving is not forgetting, nor is it condoning what your ex did. It “…is a gift you give to yourself,” says the founder of The Better Apart Method, Gabrielle Hartley. “A moment of giving up what might have been and realizing that everything is as it must be.” Forgiveness begins with you. It allows you to stop feeling like a victim of the lie and take back your power. Instead of blame, shame and remorse, choose to use this as an opportunity to learn, grow and change, as you begin this new chapter of your life.
3. Learn to trust yourself again
Everyone in your life has the potential of betraying you. We can’t always count on anyone 100% of the time, but this does not mean we should isolate ourselves or harden our hearts. What I believe it does is stress the importance of being able to trust the one person we can always count on – ourselves. Self-trust means you can take care of your needs and safety. It means you trust yourself to survive situations and practice kindness, not perfection. And it means you speak kindly to yourself and refuse to give up yourself because of what someone else did.
4. Be patient with yourself
When we are impatient with ourselves we are constantly criticizing ourselves and feeling disappointment. We forget to give ourselves time because the pain and hurt will not go away overnight. Taking things one step at a time will help you run the marathon vs the sprint and you will go further. As a society we want instant gratification. We’ve come to expect immediate, same day results. Hence we live lives with little to no patience. I believe the easiest way to help ease impatience is deep breathing or getting some fresh air and take a walk. It has the power to calm your mind and body.
In the aftermath of lies in marriage–of having been deceived, it’s very hard not to become a mistrustful person yourself. I get it. For months after leaving my husband, I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone, especially a man. I also couldn’t figure out how to relate to new men while distrusting them. It took me a bit to see that viewing the world and men with suspicion was hurting me more than it helped me. I’m a slightly more cautious person now, but I’m just as honest as I was before, and I still choose to see people as trustworthy, at least until I learn otherwise.
If having been deceived keeps you angry and distant from other people, then you’ve let the liar control your emotions and change how you show up and live in the world.
You’ll have let them steal what should matter to you the most. And you’ll have given those lies more power than they deserve. At the end of the day you have the power to decide how to respond to the lies, if at all. And you get to choose to use it as a growth experience and move forward trusting you’ve learned.
Wendy Sterling is a Divorce Recovery Specialist, a certified life coach, writer, author and speaker who founded of The Divorce Rehab™. Wendy helps divorced women remember who they are and what they are capable of by ending their pity party, mourning their marriage and MOVING FORWARD with dignity to see how much better life is afterwards. A graduate of UCLA and The Co-Active Training Institute, Wendy is also a divorced single mom who has transformed her own life from Corporate America employee to entrepreneur. To connect with Wendy you can email her at email@example.com, or visit her website at wendysterling.net.
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