The Truth about Deception

How manipulation sabotages marriage

Many times I've been tempted to use "feminine wiles." I've batted my eyelashes at my husband as I've tried to convince him of something. I've planned proper deliveries for certain truths to soften their landing. I've shaded a few facts to make me look better. I've lied outright to my husband, and I've felt shame over it. The shame comes from knowing lying is wrong.

When I lie, I show disrespect and arrogance. And when I deceive my husband, I sabotage my relationship with him. If I pretend with him, if I'm guarded or misleading, if I don't give him the chance to really know me, I refuse to really know him. He becomes a stranger when I hold him at arm's length and manipulate him to get what I want. If I'm not open with him, if I don't honor him as an equal, I rob him of his value and force him from my inner circle. If I don't trust him with the truth, I isolate him by building a wall between us.

In that last paragraph the word I repeats over and over because "I" is the focus when I lie. It's all about me. How I look. What I can get or what I can avoid. When I lie, I steal reality from the other person. I warp his perception of the actual.

Honesty means being the same with everyone, and being the same person on the outside as I am on the inside. It means being open and vulnerable, transparent. It means doing what I say I'll do, making promises and keeping them. Refusing to tell lies, choosing to be faithful, deciding to honor the other person and do what is right even when no one else is looking.

Deception and manipulation are valuable tools in getting our own way or avoiding confrontation. But deception and manipulation kill relationships because they are the opposite of respect and honor. Only honesty and openness build deep relationships.

When I lie to you, I treat you like a fool. When I manipulate you, I show myself that I'm smarter than you. When I'm honest with you, I honor you as an equal. When I'm open with you, I respect your intelligence. Rather than avoid confrontation through deception, I can stay away from conflict by valuing my husband's feelings and giving respect. I may not always get my way, but we will enjoy a real and meaningful relationship built on trust. Trust is built on truth, and truth requires honesty about everything—even sneaking out of a friend's house wearing blue eye shadow.

Sherry Van Zante married Loyd when she was 18. Thirty-four years later, marriage is the hardest, but also the best, thing she's ever done. She and Loyd live on the central coast of California.

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May 25

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