Most spouses can forgive a lot of shortcomings in a marriage.

But what about lies and deceit?

When we tell anything less than the truth in our relationships, we are asking a lot from our spouse to forgive us, to believe in us, to trust our words and our actions. To save your marriage, you need honesty, truth and openness.

A common question that relationship experts get is, “How can I make my spouse tell the truth?” In this blog, we’ll examine this question, review a child’s fable, and see how to save your marriage by making a change and implementing a method for honesty. Read on…

Lesson in Honesty

As a child, you may have heard the fable “The boy who cried wolf,” in which a child is repeatedly calling his fellow villagers with a cry that a wolf is chasing the sheep he is watching. The villagers come running over and over, until finally, the one time there is a wolf, they don’t come running. They figure he is just telling another tale, and so the wolf scatters the sheep. The boy is upset that no one believed him, and he is told that no one believes a liar, even when he is telling the truth.

This story illustrates perfectly what many people who are untruthful don’t get: when you’re caught in a lie, it’s difficult to convince others of your honesty. Dishonesty has a high cost, and the burden is shared by both the liar and the people lied to. You can’t overlook how critical honesty and trust are in a relationship.

If your spouse is dishonest, there isn’t much you can do to force him or her to tell the truth. Part of goal of those children’s fables was to teach a lesson – and to build character. Honesty is a character trait.

However, character is something anyone can work on building. While there’s a saying about some people being “born liars,” lying is a choice. If you are having a hard time telling the truth to your spouse, understand that you have a choice and can make a change.

And if you are struggling with a spouse who is dishonest, there is a tactic you can try, which I’ll tell you about in a moment. First, let’s look at the concept of changing your spouse’s behavior.

Changing other’s behavior

To begin with, don’t misunderstand: you can’t go into your spouse’s head and change their behavior. If they are dishonest in thought and/or deed, that is a decision they make – and there is nothing that you can actually do to change that decision-making process. 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 aren’t any better at determining whether or not someone is lying to them.

You can rebuild the trust and honesty in your relationship, but to do so you need some important information, and one special tool that is designed to make rebuilding your marriage easier.


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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. 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.

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.

It may be 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.

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.

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. But maybe they aren’t ready, In which case, all you can do is change yourself. Keep reading.

Frankness invites frankness. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes you have to become the change you want. You want honesty, truthfulness and openness? Make sure you go first: it’s a method called transparency. It’s defined as fine or sheer enough to be seen through, and also, free from pretense or deceit.

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, and what you can hope for is that your spouse will follow your lead. The goal is to influence and lead by example.

Here are three tips for how you can begin to implement transparency so that you can lead the way in the process of rebuilding the honesty in your relationship.

Tip #1: Call home if you’re going to be late.

Calling home when you’re going to be late is an important act of transparency. Call home and tell your spouse where you are, what you are doing, whom you are with and when you’ll be back. This is being a mature adult and keeping the person you care most about in the world aware of your situation.

Tip #2: Share all correspondences.

You want to show your spouse you’re telling the truth? Be open and share all of your correspondence, including mail and emails. It doesn’t have to be a big production – just leave your mail out or your email account open.

Tip #3: Talk about your day.

Tell your partner about what you do during your day. Share stories about people in your office and the types of things you’re working on. Again, not a big production, just casual information that provides a glimpse into your life while you’re apart from your spouse. It may prompt your spouse to share similar stories.

These tips are the beginning of making changes in your relationship – starting with yourself.

Are you struggling with being honest, or is it your spouse?

Have you made any attempts to change their behavior? If so, what was the result?

If you have not struggled with honesty, have you been as transparent as you could be?

Do you think that a non-aggressive approach to change – simply being the change you want – can make a difference in your relationship?

Please share your ideas and personal experiences with other members of the community.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson


Marriage Sherpa

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