Sunday, July 8, 2007

The “I’m lying because I love you” lie.

The “I’m lying because I love you” lie.

I remember the last time I lied to my wife. It was about three months ago. We were planning a trip to a city I didn’t every really want to go back to. The last time I had visited this particular city I had done some really hurtful things to my wife. Just talking about going back with her stirred up a lot of shame I had not dealt with yet. I particularly didn’t want to see people that had been witness to my horrible behavior.

So when she asked me where I wanted to stay, I made up a really lame excuse of why I didn’t want to stay with some particular friends. (If you’re playing along at home, “lame excuse” is an attempt to drape a lie in nicer clothes than it deserves.) She bought the lie, or so I thought, and we went to bed.

Why did I tell her that? Why did I lie? Honestly because I love her. I thought that if I told her the real reason I didn’t want to see our friends it would force her to mentally relive that chapter of our lives. That if I were honest, it would bring back that unpleasant memory for her and she would experience more pain. So I lied to protect her. I lied out of love.

When you write it like that, it’s pretty simple to see the foolishness of that logic, but it’s so easy to do. Think about a time when you’ve not completely disclosed some financial truth to your husband or wife because you don’t want them to worry. “We’re a little over our budget this month, but I don’t want Pam to freak out so I won’t bother her with what’s going on.” Or you hide something from your spouse because you know they’re insecure about that particular area of their life. “My husband is insecure about his physical appearance so I won’t tell him I’m worried he’s making some unhealthy decisions with his diet because I don’t want to hurt him.” Or in my case, “I failed in the past and I don’t want my wife to think about that failure, so I’ll lie in the future.”

So dumb, but again, I really thought that I was lying to my wife because I didn’t want to hurt her. My small group leader always says, “It’s interesting that when you were messing up, when you were failing, you didn’t have a problem with hurting your wife by your actions.” He’s right, the truth is, that lying is always about protecting me, not someone else. In the example above, I didn’t want to deal with the consequences of my actions, so I tried to cover them up with the false nobility of protecting my wife.

But it never works, it always catches up with us. The next morning after I told that lie, I felt like God called me out on it in my quiet time. That night I confessed to my wife that I had lied. Her response? “I know. I know why you didn’t want to go back to see those friends, I just wanted to hear you say it.” The takeaway? Lying is never an act of love and people that are close to you usually know when you’re pushing them further away with a lie.

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