Is Lying to Your Spouse a Good Thing?


Can Little White Lies (few of which are always little, or white) actually be good for your marriage? Yes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In a piece today titled “The Little Lies Spouses Tell,” Elizabeth Bernstein cites research finding that hiding worries, views, and opinions from your partner can actually lead to greater satisfaction in the relationship:

Often the more open partners are with each other, the less happy they are, says Marianne Dainton, a professor at La Salle University, in Philadelphia, whose research focuses on communication in personal relationships. In dozens of studies over the past 20 years, Dr. Dainton has found people often say sharing too much is a source of relationship dissatisfaction.

The piece then delves into the extreme mess that comes with trying to define what is “productive/protective” lying and what is harmful. The fact is, there’s an impossibly fine line between “those little things that don’t matter so it’s better off not to mention them” and “those pretty significant things that really need to be addressed before they blow up later.” Items like “I told you I bought that skirt on sale, but I didn’t” or “I think your brother can be a jerk sometimes” fall into the former category. “I disagree with your financial goals and priorities” or “I’m not sure if I’m still attracted to you” fall into the latter. And when you’re embroiled in the day-to-day of a serious relationship, it’s not always easy to distinguish one from the other.

Essentially, the burden is going to fall on each member of the relationship to figure out which awkward/unpleasant items can be squirreled away for the sake of keeping the peace, and which are necessary to bring up in order to ensure that the relationship continues to function. No marriage ever comes free of messy conversations, and sometimes the benefits of getting everything out on the table can be enormous — both partners feel a huge sense of relief, and now the problem can be addressed and worked on without the fear of “what might happen if I reveal to her that I don’t really want to keep working as a lawyer/living in this city/paying a babysitter/etc.”

As for the cheating confession — well, that’s fodder for another post. Or library of posts.

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Filed in: News, Relationship & Family

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