How to Deal with A Lying Spouse

Lying is fundamental to human beings and destroys trust in relationships, careers and personal lives. Research shows that small lies make it easier to tell more significant lies till the liar is put in a situation where he has no choice but to continue with the lies. Lying in a marriage is acceptable if it is a white lie and does not harm your better half or impact your life. Intensive lying between married people can be termed as emotional betrayal, the reason for which may range from insecurity to infidelity. Before confronting your spouse or taking any steps further, it is vital to discover the reason behind their lies.

Why do They Lie

Studies have revealed that lying can be the tip of the iceberg for underlying mental health problems. Borderline Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder are a few psychiatric conditions behind your spouse's lying behaviors.

A person with borderline personality disorder often lies to distort reality into something that fits with the emotions they are feeling rather than the facts. OCD patients usually lie to mask compulsions or stop their family and friends from worrying about their behaviors.

Your husband/wife lying to you might mean that they are dealing with some internal issues and need help in the form of therapy and counselling to overcome their mental problems.

Several people with substance abuse disorders (alcohol, recreational drugs, smoking ) or impulsive control disorders ( kleptomania, pyromania, oppositional defiant disorder ) lie to mask the symptoms and often indulge in unplanned and spontaneous lies for which they later experience guilt feelings.

Pathological liars are a different category that lives in a false sense of reality, lie with many details, and change their stories often. These people usually look anxious when talking and get defensive when confronted with their lies. What makes them different from compulsive liars is that they can tell lies that tarnish their images and refuse to admit them even after discovering the truth. Pathological liars lie without apparent motives to gain admiration, attention, or sympathy.

Studies have shown that pathological liars have an underlying sense of self-esteem and are unhappy with themselves; because of this, they lie to make themselves look better and create a good impression in front of others. Pathological liars can love someone, but their lying habits make it difficult to maintain the relationship, making it a toxic affair with stress and hurt on either side.

How to Identify Their Lies

In the words of the author of "How to Detect Lies, Fraud and Identity Theft", Traci Brown, it is essential to know about how your spouse acts when they are being honest so you can have a chance of identifying the fib. Their body language, eye movements, tone of voice and hand response to basic questions says a lot about their posture and poise when being truthful about a topic.

Once you have established a baseline, it will be easy to understand the behavior shifts they exhibit when lying. Body movements, facial expressions, tone and the content of the speech will help you realize when your spouse is being honest and when they are lying.

These may not be foolproof signs, and sometimes the liar may be too trained to exhibit noticeable symptoms, while at other times, you may get false-positive results. For example, sociopaths do not show the usual lying signs and will often look in your eye while lying, which makes it difficult to see through them. Alternatively, it may be possible that your spouse is stating the truth but is physically or socially uncomfortable, resulting in the shift in body with a fidgeting behavior, misinterpreted as lying.

The healthcare community does not support the idea of body language playing any role in lie detection within relationships. It labels it as inexact signs while relying on intrinsic parameters like changes in pupil size and lie-detector readings. Several psychologists have associated factors like social anxiety and boredom with a shift in facial expressions instead of doing it out of guilt or shame for lying.

Still, there are signals that vetted body language experts suggest keeping an eye out for. Some of these signs are

Change in Speech Patterns and Vocal Tone

A review of studies on potential behavioral cues to lying has shown that liars speak more slowly, pause longer and speak in a high-pitched tone with verbalizations of um and hm that mark the hesitation in their tone.

Non-Congruent Gestures

Non-congruent gestures are movements in the body that don't match the words a person says, and lying spouses exhibit a number of these gestures, like saying yes but shaking their head to a no and giving thumbs-up when their body language conveys the opposite impression.

Don't Speak Enough or Speak too Much

Researchers from the American Psychology Association have observed that liars, when asked questions or to describe situations offer less than those telling the truth and avoid using descriptive words in conversations. Alternatively, they go overboard in descriptions and use profanities with third-person pronouns to create a hostile environment and discourage you from confronting them.

Changes in the level of eye-contact

Lack of eye contact is usually displayed by spouses when they are nervous and uncomfortable and interpret eye contact as cooperation and increased interaction for which they are not ready.

Fidgeting Tendencies

Fidgeting is a sign of nervous energy exhibited by lying spouses who worry about their better halves not believing them. They demonstrate it by finger and hand gestures, adjusting their hair and tapping their hands and feet.

The Final Step

Some of the ways that will help you get through the situation are


Counselling is one of the first steps in dealing with a lying spouse that will help you assess whether your marriage can be salvaged at this point in your relationship. The counsellor's presence will put forward a neutral zone where you can put forward each other's viewpoints and discuss methods of pain and anguish without judging each other.

Coping Mechanisms

Mutual respect is one of the best coping mechanisms in a relationship that will enable them to open up and talk to you freely. Once you get to a conversation, it is equally important to respect their opinions and evaluate possible faults on your side that may have caused them to lie about things.

Set Boundaries

There are two types of lying spouses that you need to understand before setting boundaries. The first category is a partner who does it out of shame and guilt and will benefit from love and understanding. The second category is lying spouses that lie and deceive for their selfish means, in which you need to be firm in setting terms, reevaluating your marriage and taking a break from it if required.

Stop the Blame Game

Several partners blame themselves for finding out about their lying spouses and spiral downward from overthinking. Others blame their spouses and go into modes of accusations and blaming that detach them further from each other. It is essential to stop the blame game and analyze the situation rationally if you want things to work out amicably.

Confront Them

Confronting does not always have to be ugly or done in a way that will permanently damage your relationship. Maintain a level head and a calm yet firm tone when talking to your partner about the lying, and ensure that you put forward your views clearly and without losing your cool.

Decide Whether the Relationship is Worth the Pain

Whether or not the relationship is worth the pain is a decision that depends on both of you. Discuss with your spouse if they are willing to get help and go into counselling or therapy to mend the damage caused by their lying. See if they realize the pain they have caused you and are repentant about it. Based on your observations, decide whether you want to save or end the relationship.