By Frank Gunzburg, Ph.D.
Have you been suffering through a storm of lies and deceit in your marriage? Are you wondering, at this moment, whether or not you can trust what your spouse is telling you about where he is, who he’s with, or what he’s doing? If so, then you’ve probably realized one important truth about relationships:
Honesty and trust are as important as love for a truly wonderful marriage.
It’s true. I know a lot of people out there will tell you that a relationship can’t exist without love; that love is the foundation of a good marriage. And I would agree. But sometimes people who focus exclusively on the importance of love overlook how critical honesty and trust are in a relationship.
Think of it this way: If your relationship were a house, and love were the foundation, honesty and trust would be like the walls and roof.
It’s pretty difficult to have a house without walls or a roof. By the same token, it’s almost impossible to have a fully intimate relationship when there is no honesty or trust.
Lies and deceit are like a hurricane that rips your marriage apart. They tear down the walls of honesty. They crush the roof of trust. And when the storm has passed, you are left looking at the tattered remains of your marriage, wondering how you can ever rebuild the lovely home you once shared with your spouse.
Are you in this situation right now? Have you been suffering because your partner has lied to you so much that you’ve begun to question your own sense of reality?
Are you wondering how you can ever rebuild what this ravaging storm has destroyed?
If so, I want you to know there is hope. You can rebuild the trust and honesty in your relationship, just as you can rebuild a home that has been destroyed in a storm. But to do the rebuilding you need some important information, and one special tool that is designed to make rebuilding the walls and roof of your marriage easier.
I want to share that information with you and introduce you to this special tool now so you can begin the work of rebuilding your relationship.
The first thing you need to know is that both you AND your partner need to be fully committed to your relationship and to the work it will take to rebuild your marriage if you are going to save it.
I know that may seem scary. If your partner has just revealed that he or she has been lying to you, it may be hard to believe that your partner could be truly committed to your relationship.
What’s more, you may be wondering how much you want to commit to a relationship with someone who has betrayed you so completely.
The person you love and trust most in the world lied to you. Now you probably question your spouse’s commitment as well as your own investment in your relationship.
But before you decide to give up on your marriage and before you begin to believe that your partner is not committed or could not be committed to you and your marriage, I suggest you do the work needed to make your marriage as good as it can be. Then you can make a meaningful choice about whether or not it’s something you wish to keep.
When you’re blinded by the storm of lies and deceit, it may start to look as though your whole marriage is a complete wreck. You may start to believe that your partner “lies to you about everything,” or that you “can’t trust her one single bit.”
In the midst of a storm like this it’s difficult to recognize that even now there are still things in your marriage that are good. If there weren’t, it’s unlikely you would be interested in saving your marriage.
As the storm passes you will likely find that there are some parts of your marriage that still work fairly well. It’s true that in some cases it doesn’t work out this way. There are some storms that are so damaging you simply can’t rebuild the home you once had; you can’t recover from the trauma and rebuild your relationship.
On the other hand there are cases where there are still parts of the relationship that are worthwhile. There are some walls that are still standing. There are some parts of your spouse that you still love. There are areas where you do trust your partner. He or she probably isn’t lying to you about everything.
With some guidance you will figure out which parts of your relationship already work, and which parts you will work on. This is a key to rebuilding your marriage.
But you probably can’t do this yourself. It takes both of you actively engaged in your relationship and the act of saving it from the trauma you have endured to turn it into the wonderful relationship you have always dreamed of.
Though you may be far from that goal right now, don’t give in to despair. Your relationship is like a diamond in the mud. Though it may be dirty and dull at this moment, it’s still a diamond. You wouldn’t walk away from a diamond buried in the mud without picking it up, cleaning it off, and assessing its value.
You should give your relationship the same opportunity. Remember, the person you are married to is someone you were once willing to make a lifelong commitment to. That isn’t to be taken lightly.
You BOTH have to work on your marriage if you are going to get past this. But you can do it, if both of you are fully committed.
Assuming that both of you are fully committed to making your relationship the best relationship it can be, the second thing you need to understand is that the partner who has lied or cheated is primarily responsible for the work necessary to rebuild the trust and honesty in your marriage.
People often ask me, “How can I make my partner tell me the truth? How can I make it so that I’m 100% sure he won’t lie to me again?”
The truth is that you can’t. There’s no way to make someone tell you the truth. You can’t control another human being, and you probably won’t be a good lie detector.
,Research has shown that even professionals who are supposed to be experts in detecting lies (like counselors, judges, and police) are no better than chance at determining whether or not someone is lying to them. There is highly specialized and expensive training to learn to be a human lie detector, but few people have the resources or desire to seek out this training: even professionals rarely pursue it.
You can’t expect yourself to be a better lie detector than the professionals, can you?
Given that, there is a way you may get to a place where you are pretty sure that your partner isn’t lying to you. No matter what you feel inside, you can never predict with 100% certainty if your spouse is telling the truth—you couldn’t do it before, and you can’t do it now. You may have felt certain that you could make such a prediction, and you may feel that way again.
To get to this place, the lying or cheating partner has to take some action that will make it possible for you to trust him or her again. In fact, there is one special tool your partner can employ to make it so that you begin to fully trust him or her once more.
This tool will help you rebuild the wall of honesty and the roof of trust in your relationship. It’s called transparency.
There are two definitions for the word “transparent” that, when put together, give you a powerful concept that will help you rebuild the honesty and trust in your marriage. Let’s look at those definitions.
Transparent: 1. Fine or sheer enough to be seen through; 2. Free from pretense or deceit.
If you’re the lying or cheating partner, you should be aware that you can’t rebuild the honesty and trust in your marriage by simply telling your partner that you’re sorry and that you’ll never lie again (though these are important elements in the healing process). You need to take action. You need to demonstrate that you are being honest and that you deserve to be trusted.
The way to do this is by becoming transparent. You should begin to act in such a way that your spouse can almost “see through” your actions and know that you aren’t lying again.
You need to become absolutely free of pretense and deceit. And you need to demonstrate this to your partner.
How do you do that?
I have identified five building blocks for a transparent relationship. These are:
1. Share everything without attaching yourself at the hip
2. Openly express your thoughts and feelings
3. Use your sensitivities to zero in on problems
4. Develop a no-lies policy and reveal everything
5. Keep the door open
If you want to read about these building blocks in detail, please see my guide called How to Rebuild Honesty. For now I want to focus on five of the most important tips from building block number one: share everything without attaching yourself at the hip. These tips will show you how to become more transparent starting today and will help you begin the process of rebuilding the honesty in your relationship.
Tip #1: Call home if you’re going to be late.
If you want a sure way to make your partner suspicious of you, just “forget” to call. Then all she has to do is let her imagination run wild about where you are or what you might be doing.
Calling home when you’re going to be late is so important. Your partner will have a tendency to think the worst in a situation like yours because he is still worried that you are lying to him. Add a few thoughts of betrayal to this situation and you will know this is not a good way to rebuild feelings of trust in your marriage.
Instead, call home and tell your partner where you are, what you are doing, and when you will be back. This isn’t like reporting to a parent. It’s being a mature adult and keeping the person you care most about in the world apprised of your situation.
Keep in mind that you are no longer in a “normal” situation of unbroken trust—you are repairing what you broke. You need to do some “work” to make that repair happen.
Tip #2: Share all correspondences.
You want to prove to your spouse that you’re telling him the truth? Be open and share all of your correspondences with him. Let him read your mail. Give him access to your email, including all of your usernames and passwords. Just open up and share it all.
Tip #3: Talk about your day.
Tell your partner about what you do during your day. Tell him about the people in your office, what projects you’re working on (if you are allowed to discuss them and you wish to), and how your career is progressing. You don’t need to be a parrot and repeat everything that happens during your day. Just keep your spouse “in the loop” about what’s going on in your life. Simply doing this goes a long way to rebuilding the honesty and trust in your marriage.
Tip #4: Keep your cell phone turned on as much as possible.
Make it as easy as possible for your partner to get in contact with you wherever you go. Keep your cell phone on and with you. This gives your spouse the opportunity to get in touch with you if he or she needs to, or if he or she is worried that you might be lying.
Tip #5: Call for no reason and say something thoughtful.
When you’re at work, or out running errands, take a minute to stop and give your partner a call. Tell her you love her and you were thinking of her so you wanted to call. This not only helps your partner feel comfortable that she’s in your mind and a part of your life even when she isn’t with you; it’s a great romantic technique as well.
If this isn’t something you usually would do, your partner may be suspicious at first. Explain why you’re doing it. You can even tell her you got the idea from this website.
These five tips alone aren’t enough to completely rebuild the honesty and trust in your marriage. It will take time, commitment, work, communication, predictability, and long-term honesty to achieve that.
But they are a great starting point. Employing these tips will help you take the first steps to rebuilding the walls of honesty that have been destroyed and become truly transparent. They are a very important step to saving your marriage.
I hope you use them to help you begin building the wonderful relationship you have always dreamed of. You can make that happen if you both truly want it and are willing to put the effort into your marriage to achieve that result.
When long-term relationships work, the people in them experience a sense of love, commitment, safety, and understanding that’s hard to explain to people who don’t have this experience. I am quite sure you want that feeling in your life. And I’m quite sure you can make it happen with work, love, honesty, and trust.
As always I wish you all the best on your road to a wonderful marriage.
Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear about your marriage. So post a comment to this blog by clicking the comment link below.
I send you my best wishes,