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My wife and liars

Don - November 18, 2004

My wife hates liars. We just fired an employee who was caught in several lies. My wife can’t stand being lied to.

Here’s my problem. I was talking to another of our employees. She told me that she doesn’t get along well with my wife. So when my wife and I were talking I told her what this employee had said. She reacted to this…or should I say over-reacted to this. I told her it was obvious that I shouldn’t tell her things like this.

That remark then led to the idea of what to tell her and what not to tell her. I said I guess I should keep things from you that may cause you to react, or may have a negative effect on you. She didn’t like that.

….No we aren’t at the point of having to go in for therapy….in fact for her it has long past and not a factor anymore.

For me it begs the question: “What should we hold back from telling people?” and when we do withhold information, or comments then “Is not telling everything….or the ‘whole’ truth…really lying then?” “Is it OK to only tell part of the story to ‘protect’ them from the ‘truth’?” “Where does telling only part of something become a lie, or does it ever become a lie?”

Do you have similar problems with the “truth” and your spouse?

1 Comment »

  1. I have great empathy with your wife. I cannot stand being lied to, either. And I tend to err on the side of being far too blunt in my own speaking. I have learned over many years of trials to hold my tongue sometimes, but it has not changed my love of, and need for, the truth. Now, truth is held as not very self-evident these days, in fact, it is quite popular to believe that we make our own truths. I cannot stand this notion. I believe in God, and that He knows absolute truth. I have come to recognize that I do not. This has helped me become more tolerant and tactful. But I still cannot abide people outright lying, and even sneaky deceptions still really bother me.
    My husband is absolutely honest, but he is also far more tactful in not always saying what he is thinking. Is this deceptive? Nope. But sometimes it feels like it is. I am just far too open, I think.
    I know that he thinks he needs to be careful not to say things that might get me upset, which bothers me. I guess I want him to be open with me, and if I get upset, then we will just have to work through it all together.
    I still put a huge premium on truth.
    Can’t help it. But I am learning to be tactful.
    Peggy Cahill | Email | Homepage | 11.18.04 – 9:48 pm | #

    LOL!!! This is hilarious. I was just having this conversation with a friend just yesterday. His girlfriend asked him for his opinion on something. He could either lie and make her feel good, or he could tell the truth and offend her. He was mad because he’s in a no-win situation. Isn’t the problem with her? She needs to fix herself as to not get offended when asking for his opinion. You don’t ask someone what they think allowing for only one possible response! If you truly want their opinion, you have to be open enough to expect any answer! Of course the guy has to be tactful as well.

    Peggy, I have to say that I sympathize with your husband on this one (not surprisingly, eh?). I know what my wife will get upset at. I avoid those situations. Hmm… let’s see, stretch the truth and say that those pants match that scarf and get to the show on time and in a good mood? or be “open” telling the truth and be late because you got into a big discussion and hurt feelings…? but at least you were open, right? That’s not a very tough decision for me. But that’s my situation, and I’m sure no other husbands are put into those same predicaments.

    It’s important to hold back information all the time. When I was a missionary I didn’t tell the people on the doorstep that Joseph Smith had a bunch of wives (or whatever other controversial issue). If we hear that some kid in our son’s class called him a baby, we don’t need to tell him. What good would that do? Same thing with Don and his wife, what good does that information (of her employee feeling like they don’t get along) do for her, other than give her reason to justify her own bad feelings in return? Telling false information is a lie, holding information is not. That’s just called editing.
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 11.18.04 – 11:17 pm | #

    Rusty makes a good point. Holding back information (or editing) is important BUT we must watch ourselves in this or we will start editing things that should not be edited under the guise that it is ok.
    I think the best definition of what and what not to tell is by going by what it says in Exodus–Thou shalt not BEAR FALSE WITNESS. I think this means more AND less then what is being discussed here.
    Also, I’m sorry but I can only sympathize so much with everyone because I have absolutely NO trouble with my spouse
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 11.19.04 – 12:45 am | #

    My wife and I can be pretty candid with each other and our lives are very open to one another (as I think it should be).

    Just the same, once or twice when dealing with a hard reality or especially difficult circumstances that have arisen, I been on what I’m spontaneously going to call “taped delay.”

    Now I know the normal taped delay is about 5 seconds. But on an occasion or two I have take a day or two to digest the difficult reality or circumstance myself and then at an opportune or appropriate private moment, discuss the matter with my wife.

    Fortunately this is the kind of thing that has happened only once or twice in the three plus-a-little-bit years we’ve been married. And I’m guessing that in the future the “taped delay” will be shorter and shorter … because frankly I’ve been deeply touched by the support and love my wife has given me when I’ve opened up with her about an unusual challenge or difficult situation I’m dealing with.

    In our recent stake conference, the stake president used a metaphor that was very significant to me. He said that sometimes in our lives we have a lot of hidden rooms with locked doors. He said in our relationship with our spouses, we should take all the doors off the hinges and that there should be no rooms, closed doors or locked doors to secrets in our lives. I think that’s a very useful metaphor and its the standard I want to live by in my marriage.
    danithew | Email | Homepage | 11.19.04 – 1:22 pm | #


    I like the idea of no doors. I also think it takes years, maybe even decades, of living before that ideal will be reached. Many people come to marriage with a few painful experiences in their past, and I’m not sure the best approach is to immediately throw all the doors open at once. Trust is something that is earned. That said, it is best for our lives to be an open book.

    Don, I sympathize. I’m pretty sure that part of being a good husband is knowing when to be candid, and knowing when to lie. For instance, how about this question: “Honey do you think I’m getting fat?” Even if your wife is grotesquely obese, the truthful answer is definitely the wrong answer.

    It was interesting for me to learn that Joseph Smith walked this same tightrope. He would confide something to another men, and ask him to please not tell Emma, for fear of her reaction. I’m not saying he was right, in fact, it was probably wrong for him to do that.
    CB | Email | Homepage | 11.19.04 – 4:25 pm | #

    This also reminds me of “The Rules For Women” that has been going around on the internet. Here are two that I remember.

    Rule 1. If you think the pants make you look fat, they probably do. Don’t aske, then get mad when I give a truthful answer.

    Rule 2. Don’t ask what I’m thinking about, unless you want to hear about sex, sports, or cars.
    CB | Email | Homepage | 11.19.04 – 4:28 pm | #

    I really like what Bret says: withholding information can be prudent at times, but we must be careful it doesn’t allow us to “knowingly deceive” (= my simple definition of lying).

    Having said that, I think the best test to use on your “editing” habits (as Rusty calls it) is the old clich├ęd question, “What would Jesus do?” Certainly He withheld information from those who weren’t yet prepared to hear it. Did He tell people their clothes matched if they didn’t, or they were slender if they were not? I imagine if asked, He would probably be like Peggy’s husband and somehow use tact. I’m guessing He valued kindness as much as truthfulness and only shared what was necessary and beneficial for each particular person or group of people.

    As a sidenote, my husband and I have agreed to keep my blogging behind a “closed door.” Some blog topics I would mention got him a little too worked up (similar to Don’s wife over-reacting), so we decided I would withhold that information from him now. It’s not lying, but I’m not deceiving him either because we’ve agreed on it!
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 11.20.04 – 6:14 pm | #

    I look at sharing information this way: Will it enrich or enlighten the recipient’s life in a positive way? If not, to me it is just gossip and need not be repeated.

    This makes you have to look at your intention to share information as well. Do you have a need to clear your conscience? Do you just like to pass along things you think are amusing, not realizing that others don’t see them the same way?

    I’m not saying these are your intentions, only you can answer that. But I am a great believer that not everything said bears repeating.
    Kelee | Email | Homepage | 11.21.04 – 9:22 pm | #

    To those of a suspicious nature, people around them are always lying or holding back something important. Of course, such people rarely practice what they preach–somehow there is always good reason for them to exercise discretion or think about things for awhile (sometimes forever) or justify their own selective disclosure by some version of “this wasn’t something you needed to hear.”

    You might consider reading Dr. Laura’s chapter on “secrecy versus privacy” in her Couples volume in the Ten Stupid Things series.
    Dave | Email | Homepage | 11.22.04 – 10:26 am | #

    Peggy, I have to say that I sympathize with your husband on this one (not surprisingly, eh?)

    Rusty, and well you should sympathize with my husband, because I do, too! He is truly a saint to put up with me. Ours is a second marriage for both of us, and the firsts were not happy at all, but we have been blissfully happy together. He is the most wonderful man I’ve ever known. And he seems to be able to somehow know when I need for him to tell me the unvarnished truth, and when I really don’t have to hear the rest of the story…. He is so honest, that I would never be afraid he would actually lie to me (which was a definite problem in my first marriage. Yuck.)
    Peggy Cahill | Email | Homepage | 11.22.04 – 6:43 pm | #



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