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March 15, 2023

The Damage Lies Do in Marriage


You and your spouse may have caught each other in lies throughout your relationship. Some were told to make yourselves look better or appear stronger in each other’s eyes. Some may have been said in an attempt to avoid painful conversations and deal with the truth. Some could even have been told to hide betrayal emotionally, physically, or financially. You may be wondering if you can ever regain trust or if you should call it quits and start over fresh with someone else. Is it possible to restore trust after deception? Can anything be done to rebuild a relationship that has crumbled because of lies? The answer begins with understanding why deception is so harmful to a marriage.

Why Lying is Damaging to a Relationship

Relationships are built on a foundation of truth, honesty, and trust. For that reason, even little white lies erode and crack that foundation.

Love Recon lies in a relationship body2

Discovering your partner in a lie can be damaging because:

  1. It gives birth to doubt. If you catch your spouse in a lie, you are left to wonder what else they have lied to you about. “Is my mate the person I thought he or she was?” you may ask yourself. Everything is open to question and doubt now.


  1. It creates an atmosphere of distrust. Moving forward with your spouse becomes difficult now that you know they lied. Indeed, they can lie to you about other issues as well. This feeling is intensified if you caught them in the lie instead of them coming clean on their own and being honest about their deception.


  1. It wounds you. Your spouse may tell you it was not personal but “more about them than you.” The truth is, it was highly personal. They put themselves and their interests above you and the marriage. As a result, you may feel marginalized, insignificant, and small.


  1. Intimacy becomes a casualty.  Intimacy means “knowing and being known.” Intimacy is not only sexual but intellectual, spiritual, financial, conversational, and experiential. Because there is now deception, doubt, distrust, and hurt, there is a loss of intimacy. The deceived partner may wonder if they know their spouse and can ever entrust themselves and their thoughts and feelings to the deceiving spouse again.    With deception come doubt, distrust, hurt, and ultimately a loss of intimacy. Being close to someone who would hurt you so deeply and personally is no longer safe.


How do We Recover from Deception in our Marriage?

Assuming that the deception has stopped, you need to begin living with your eyes on the present and the future, not the past. You must leave the sting of the deception and decide to move forward and build a new, loving, and trusting relationship.

To be fully restored to each other, you need to begin living beyond the deception—assuming the deception has stopped. Healing means you have left the sting of the deceit and can move forward into a new, loving, and trusting relationship.

You both must be willing to take the necessary steps for healing your hearts and your relationship. Here are those steps:

Face the deception honestly. You must confront the deception head-on. Do not excuse or minimize the lie. All lies are enormous in terms of their effect on your relationship. Their impact is far-reaching, damaging, and painful. The integrity of the marriage has been compromised, and the deceiver must understand that they have violated the intimate bond of the relationship. They must “come clean” and admit to the pain and damage that they have caused.

Validate the pain of the deceived spouse. The violated spouse must be given the opportunity to voice their hurt and pain. It must be validated by the offending spouse, even if it takes several times of gut-wrenching discussion and acknowledgment of the damage done. It is usually not a “one-and-done” situation.

Ensure that the lying has stopped. Amazingly, this is not always the case, even though it should go without saying. As Scripture states, “…you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” Continued deception will be revealed, maybe not now or six weeks from now, but it will be revealed.

Forgive the deceiver. Forgiving your spouse for their deception is the only way to move past the past. Forgiveness does not include trust. Forgiving your spouse sets you free from anger, bitterness, and resentment. If you are to trust them again, they will need to earn that trust which will take some time.

Take preventative measures to prevent future deception. For example, trusted friends could be accountability partners. In addition, counseling or coaching could help you or your spouse make the character and lifestyle changes you need to avoid repeating the patterns of deception.

Do what it takes to rebuild trust. The formula for rebuilding trust is:

Honesty + Consistency = Trust.

So be honest about who you are, what you are thinking, where you are, what you are doing, and who you are with. Do what you say that you will do. Don’t over-promise and set yourself up for failure. With honesty and consistent behavior, your trust can be restored.

Treat each other with respect. That might sound ironic, but respecting each other is critically important. This is not to say that you need to respect the offensive behavior. However, your spouse needs you to respect them as your life partner and their efforts to heal and grow.

Have a “get to” attitude. Choose to think, “We get to build trust and restore our future and relationship, not “We have to do this.”  Take your spouse’s hand and walk through this together, viewing each other as teammates, not enemies. Don’t just go through this experience, but grow through it!

To summarize, as devastating as it is, deception in marriage does not have to destroy your relationship. Don’t minimize the deception and the harm that it has done, but don’t let the failure define you, your spouse, or your relationship. Put the boundaries and safeguards in place to lessen the chances of it happening again and work on healing and rebuilding trust. Then, falling in love again and building a solid and fulfilling marriage is possible.

If you want to discuss how we can help you and your relationship, please contact me at Cliff@LoveRecon.org or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, for testimonials and information.

About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

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