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"Two Truths and a Lie"

It’s been a bit.

I’ve struggled to write, not only due to having a full schedule, but because any time I write a blog I put myself in the space of being married again. And it’s hard. And painful. And triggering.

Clearly I’m an avoider when it comes to things that could cause pain or heartache. I really don’t want to be.

So here goes...

Christmas was great. I spent Christmas Eve with 3 of 5 kids and 2 of 3 grandkids. We had fun even though I didn’t feel great since I was recovering from the flu.

Then I went back to work at school in the third grade. Planning each day takes a lot out of me, just like a regular teacher, though I’m not a regular teacher. I do get treated like one and am well respected.

I also went back to my other job where we hired someone to take my place. Though she was doing a really great job it wasn’t a good fit for her. So she left after 3 months. I just hired someone else who is catching on quickly and seems like she will be a better fit. Hopefully I’ll get some relief when she is able to work alone.

And of course there’s coaching. My passion. I just started a Boundaries group and heard that it’s full. Of course boundaries are easy for us to get a grasp of….Haha!!

Have you ever heard of the ice breaker called, Two Truths and a Lie??

So where did I lie? Is it easy or hard to tell?

The boundaries one should be easy to tell and clearly it was a joke. I think every partner I have talked to has had difficulty in this area….Where do I set them? What should be the consequence? Am I being controlling by setting a boundary? Should I communicate them to my spouse? What if he breaks them and I don’t have the heart, or energy, to follow through?

But there’s another one. It seems like it could be truth. It seems to flow nicely with the others and depending on the perspective you may not consider it one.

That’s the point of this blog.

When we are married or in relationship with an addict, we can’t tell the difference. They sound reasonable. It doesn’t seem like a lie and if it were a lie, well, it seems like a harmless one.

But here’s the problem. Lies of any kind in a close, intimate relationship where you should be honest and transparent with one another, can be harmful. Lies of any kind ARE harmful.

It starts innocently….. I don’t want to hurt feelings. I don’t want to cause a problem right now. I don’t want this conversation that I know we’ll have if I tell the truth. I don’t want to feel like I have to explain myself. I deserve to not have to explain myself. It was a little lie and it won’t hurt anyone.

And so on.

All of those reasons can seem reasonable and harmless. But over time, as this behavior goes on and on for years or even decades, it can be abusive.

Many don’t like that word. So let’s look at some synonyms.

  • Hateful

  • Malicious

  • Spiteful

  • Defamatory

  • Disdainful

  • Maligning

  • Offensive

  • Nasty

  • Corrupt

Here’s what happens when an addict repeatedly lies:

You don’t know when you can trust him. You don’t know what truth looks like. You begin to doubt what you’ve seen or heard because what he says seems to be in conflict with what you ‘knew’ to be true. You feel crazy, which yes, is a result of being gaslit….repeated intentional lying with conscious or unconscious intent for the other person to not know their reality.

The addict is choosing to protect himself so that he can look better and feel better about himself. He doesn’t want to be called out on his lies, and even when he is, he most likely will not own up to them.

Look again at the synonyms for abuse and tell me where a consistent habit of lying does not equate to abuse?

Back to how boundaries and lying can go together.

When you have been lied to repeatedly and can no longer discern truth from lies, you need some good, strong boundaries.

Remember that boundaries are to protect you and have you feel safe, not as a way to control or punish someone else.

So, in this instance, what can you do?

First you need to look at what you have control over.

If you are lied to where you can’t tell if it’s truth or not, you can choose to not believe your spouse. But what if he seems really sincere and is telling the truth? He could be but he’s sounded that way before so you can’t always trust that.

You can tell him that as much as you’d like to believe him you don’t because of his past history. He will need to keep showing truth by his actions for you to trust his words.


He has told you that he was going to install a bedroom door on the kids room where there isn’t one. He has told you this over and over and even set a date, which has come and gone, and still hasn’t done it. Might not be an outright lie, but it feels like one because he said he would do something and hasn’t. It doesn’t build trust. Lies don’t build trust, they actually destroy it.

In this case, I would give him a fair time frame to install the door and all that goes with that. If it’s not accomplished by that time, tell him that you will hire someone to do it.

Here you are not controlling his door installation. You’ve asked him to do it by a certain date. Have his words and actions match and if they don’t, you are prepared with a plan B. Most likely he won’t like it, but that’s too bad. If he did what he said, it would never have been an issue.

Another example.

You catch him looking at another woman. Not just admiring beauty but in the way that you know what it means in his head.

You tell him you saw and he denies it. You can not make him fess up but you can choose to not allow him visual access to you for a period of time.

Protection for you to not feel like an object, not punishment for him, though it will feel that way.

Make sense?

The point is to consistently enforce that you want to see his words and actions match. Lying is not okay. It doesn’t create intimacy. Lying destroys intimacy and trust. It’s a slippery slope because you no longer know what you should or shouldn’t believe.

And it’s abusive.

If you or someone you know is in this situation, please click here and get the help and encouragement that you need in order to heal. It’s a journey full of twists and turns but it’s worth it because you are worth it.

And the lie I told?

It was about the co-worker doing a great job.

Why would I lie about something so simple……

(What does cinnamon sticks have to do with lying? The withered one represents the lie. Eventually it will effect them all...)

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1 Comment

Rhonda T
Rhonda T
Jan 29, 2023

Debbie, I’m grateful that you have the courage and tenacity to step back into the space of marriage to write this blog, despite the personal pain it brings. It’s your pain and the way you’ve battled for your own wholeness that makes you a voice worth listening to. Your perspective is invaluable and what you say is always on-point and expressed with genuine empathy and deep insight. And you have a relatable, enjoyable writing style to boot! Two Truths and a Lie” is no exception. Thank you for putting your heart out there once again!

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