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I saw your show on husbands who are chronic liars. I am

I saw your show on...
I saw your show on husbands who are chronic liars. I am married to one. In many other ways he is a great husband but I have uncovered too many deceptions over the last 15 yrs that I can't really trust him. I would consider leaving but we have two children who would be devastated if I did take that route. The deceptions seem to only occur when he knows there will be conflict. Help! I want a better marriage.
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Answered in 4 minutes by:
3/23/2011
David Akiva
David Akiva, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 167
Experience: Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
Verified
Therapist :

Welcome to JA.com. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Therapist :

Our website is an affiliate support service to the show. I can provide you with a strong practical answer to your question if you'd like. If you'd like to proceed, I'd need to ask you a few questions here in chat to get a better sense of your situation. Does that make sense?

Therapist :

I'll check back shortly for your response.

Customer:

Sorry about that, my message said you were still typing a response. The answer is yes.

Customer:

How can I tell when you are coming back online?

Customer:

Sounds like you're not coming back online for a while. I am going to save n exit.

Therapist :

Sorry for the delay. The best thing we can do here for now is either set up a time to chat, or just exchange with a bit of delay over the afternoon. I will then research and provide you with the best answer I can to your question. I will also provide you with supportive additional links and resources to help you as well, based on my research.

Therapist :

Here are some questions in the mean time:

Therapist :

1. What sort of deception are you experiencing? Short snap-shot descriptions of the behavior you are seeing or have seen are best here.

Therapist :

2. What is your communication like? Have you talked to your husband honestly about what you are experiencing and feeling? What was the result?

Therapist :

3. What has worked in the past to help you resolve or deal with this issue?

Therapist :

4. Are there any medical or psychological issues in your marriage (formal diagnosis etc) that may be contributing to the problem? If so please describe briefly.

Therapist :

I'll check back again shortly for your response. Thank you for your time and your patience.

Customer:

Sure this will work. Responses are....

Customer:

1. The deceptions have ranged in our marriage from big to small in the grand scheme of things. This latest one had to do with an agreement we made that he would not wear contacts anymore because he almost lost his vision in one eye from a severe eye infection complicated by contact use last December. Since then, he picked up recreational basketball, was frustrated by not being able to see and started wearing contacts despite my wishes. The kids and I went to his game yesterday and there he was playing without glasses. He says he knew I would be upset so he avoided the confrontation.

Customer:

The big deception happened in 2000 when he was feeling unappreciated and angry with me, thought we were bad for each other and had a full-blown affair with a co-worker that lasted 3 months until I found out. At the time my youngest was almost 1 yrs old. He told me he wanted out of the marriage so I poked around in his stuff and found cards written to him signed by the woman. Once I confronted him, he did not want out of the marriage anymore, dropped the relationship with the other woman. This is when I discovered the habit of lying. For almost every question I asked him about the affair, the answers would not line up because many were lies. And he was lying about so many things during the affair. To this day, will ask him sometimes about the affair, and I will uncover more untruths.

Customer:

Since then, I will catch him lying about things like getting a speeding ticket, stuff like the recent contact lens scenario.

Customer:

2. Our communication is not our strength in the marriage. I, myself, am not the best in it and since the affair have tried to heal my own issues so that I can learn how to communicate effectively and teach him how to do what is very unnatural for him. Our communication is more than good when it comes to anything that does not involve conflict - what to do with problems with kids, finances, work issues, non-problem stuff like friends, politics, what is going on at work or at kid's schools. Once conflict comes into play, communication just doesn't happen.

Customer:

3. I guess the answer to what has worked is nothing really has. it works in the short term to talk about learning from past mistakes, committing to improving our communication in the face of conflict, giving him examples of how he could approach a dialogue with me, showing the outcome of two scenarios between being deceptive or seeking out a discussion to navigate through the problem. After confrontation, he acts extra nice and comforting but the pattern is what it is, I'm starting to see that and accept it as reality.

Customer:

4. I don't know of any medical or psychological issues, no formal diagnosis. Both my husband and I are actually successful professionals that have emerged from a damaging childhood. Both of us were never communicated to, heard or had we received any positive responses to an attempt to communicate.

Customer:

It might help to add that after I found out about the affair we had marriage counseling that really helped and saved our marriage. That was in 2001. I guess I'm not sure what is helpful to add at this point. Because of the affair, I am extremely sensitive about any lying or deception and he know/understands that to some degree. He feels bad but the pattern still comes back and I am feeling frustrated and it appears that he feels some level of frustration also, regret for sure but the regret is always after he is caught.

Therapist :

Now that is clear information. Thank you.

Customer:

Great, glad you find it so

Therapist :

If I may ask, what kind of counseling did you attend, what was the counselor's training and background if you know? How many sessions did you attend?

Customer:

I'm trying to remember and he was a marital counselor that I found through a medical coverage list. We attended one session per week for about 6 months. We used a John Gottman book "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" as a guide. I attended separate sessions with a psychologist for my own childhood problems but we didn't click and I ended it after a few sessions.

Therapist :

John Gottman's work and books are excellent and highly evidence-based in their content and method as I'm sure you remember from working with the book. sound's like you're therapist had a behavioral approach him or herself. It's wonderful that you also got individual therapy to reinforce this processes.

Therapist :

Is there anything else you would like to add before I get to work on your answer?

Customer:

What else would be helpful?

Therapist :

At this point, you've provide very clear information. I think I can develop an answer for you now, and post it for you by later this afternoon (EST). Does that sound ok to you?

Customer:

Yes.

Therapist :

Ok, thank you for your time and your patience again. I'll back to post my answer shortly.

Customer:

I just thought of an aspect of the speeding ticket deception that may be good info to share. I found out about it because of a letter that we got in the mail that stated because he didn't respond or pay the ticket, he was going to have to go to court and possibly to jail (something horrible like that). This is an example of how my husband deals with conflict - total denial. He put the ticket physically out of the way and chose to forget about it. This was a viable solution, I asked?!? I personally thought that was striking and remember thinking - who is this guy? and what adult does that?

Therapist :

To get right to the heart of the matter, I’ll address your general question statement regarding help for a better marriage. You’ve taken some very practical steps so far seeking 26 sessions of marital counseling and adjunct individual psychotherapy as a very healthy response to the past affair.

I’ve worked with hundreds of couples and individuals in my private practice towards the effective stabilization of strong marital distress. My focus is most often based on helping a couple change their behavior and to learn effective communication, much along the lines of John Gottman’s work and some other similarly oriented researchers and therapists. It’s likely the couple’s counselor you worked with had a similar orientation based on his or her choice of the Gottman book as a counseling tool.

As you probably know, marital distress, the hurt, reactive anger and frustration that leads to “the four horsemen” styles of communication most often results from chronically unmet core-relationship needs. A precise or pinpoint re-clarification of your current relationship needs (yours and your husbands) will be very helpful here I think, along with revisiting communication that results in action steps towards improved mutual needs meeting.

The deception you describe may have 2 basic roots. Lying, from a behavioral perspective, is a behavior that has a short term pay-off, you get to avoid immediate consequences for choices and actions by hiding or disguising them. The cumulative long term consequences of these cover-ups or avoidances can very negatively impact the emotional stability of a marriage. So, from a behavioral perspective, one strategy would be to learn with your husband more about what the short term payoffs are and to more fully discuss the long term negative consequences of his deceitful behavior.

In some cases this behavior can be an unconscious or automatic choice, shaped and maintained by the payoffs. Building a stronger awareness of this very process can enable you husband to interfere by assessment or re-appraisal (I’m using a bit of clinical language here because I saw that you wrote with a good basic understanding form your earlier therapeutic work).

You can also look at replacement behaviors (like catching himself in fib) and setting up payoffs such as praise and positive attention from you, that are both more enjoyable than just avoidance to him and more conducive to a healthy relationship for both of you.

I don’t see evidence from your examples that these small deceits serve more than the function of avoiding conflicts as you’ve described. I’m wondering if these small acts of deceitfulness are in some ways reminiscent of the major transgression of the affair for you. If so, what you are experiencing is a core-relationship need at the level of emotional attachment, the need to feel safe and secure with your husband in much the same way as a child feels with a caring and protective parent. The latest and most amazing research in marital relationships and therapy, shows that the need to feel safe, loved, secure and trusting of our partners, is as fundamental to our emotional health as food and oxygen are to our physical health.

John Gottman himself resisted this view for a number of years but know acknowledges attachment needs are the primary relationship needs. Normal relationship needs, like resolving money issues, sharing the housework, and even for sex, have now been shown to in fact, be secondary expressions of the deeper emotional attachment needs. You mentioned trust in your question and trust is one of the most import expressions of what I’m describing here.

For years marital counselors like myself have worked on changing couples behaviors to get usually secondary relationship needs met and related issues resolved, like I mentioned above. The evidence once showed this was the best approach in marital therapy. I’m not necessarily advocating more counseling here but I’m suggesting that both you and your husband learn more about how to meet express and meet each other’s core-emotional or attachment needs.

What floored me a few years back as a therapist was that couples therapy in just 7 sessions, based on this model and not on any behavior change approach, was having sustained 5 and seven year positive results when highly distressed couples were re-assessed. This approach, literally resolves mild to moderate clinical depression more effectively than depression targeted CBT therapy and/or medications. That’s a depression cure in most cases, and a relationship “transformation” that lasts for years without behavior based intervention as we see in the Gottman approach.

I’m not an EFT trained therapist but I have studied the research behind it for years. I recommend that both you and your Husband read Dr. Sue Johnson’s (founder of emotion focused therapy for couples or EFT) together in much the same way you did the Gottman book. If you can take 30 minutes before bed together for a reading date and read it to one and other. You should ask and answer the simple questions at the end of each easy to read chapter. You can get the book at your local library most likely, so you don’t even have to pay for it.

This will enable you to get a shared-pulse so to speak on the emotional quality and experience of your marriage. The deceit issue will come up. I’d use a gentler term like white lies, (less critical a la Gottman). If later you chose to seek counseling again EFT as I mentioned is the best marital therapy in the world and you have an 80-90% chance of benefiting together for the rest of your lives from it in 2 months on average. Addressing the little white lies in the context of learning to re-expand and deepen your love together will very likely causes the little white lies to melt away for good.

Here are some links to learn more about EFT and the book I’m recommending:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrKME6y2ZOM&playnext=1&list=PL4BEFB15DF06E0B31

http://www.iceeft.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=79

http://www.iceeft.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=82

Here’s the book I recommended you and your partner read at or around the same time. It can provide you a practical new emotional language for discussing your relationship:

http://www.holdmetight.net/

Here’s the page for finding an EFT therapist in your area if you do decide to get some counseling again. If there isn’t one in your area talk to an EFT Clinical Trainer/Therapist to explore alternatives in your region :

http://www.iceeft.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=54

If you can’t find an EFT therapist, I’d try to find a trained Gotmann therapist. Here’s the link to their site, which will outline their research you are probably already familiar with. They also have a “find a therapist link” on this site: http://www.gottman.com/

I hope that helps. Let me know if I’ve missed anything answering your question. Your feedback is very important to me.

Please don’t forget to push the “accept” but if you find value in my detailed answer.

Therapist :

.......

David Akiva
David Akiva, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 167
Experience: Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
Verified
David Akiva and 87 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
There is so much great information here that I need more time to digest it and then share it with my husband. As I read through it, I could immediately sense that your response was right on point and your approach is exactly what will work for the both of us. So much so that I must say thanks for your help and that I am more than pleased with this experience.
I'm passionate about saving marriages, particularly where kids are involved. I wish you and your family the very best.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
As you recommended, I am planning on ordering Hold Me Tight and I would like to combine it with another self-help book on healing from an emotionally abusive mother who was critical, belittling and conditional with her "love" though never neglectful physically. She refuses to revisit the past and finds it disrespectful to point out any faults of parents. I would like to find peace despite her inability to acknowledge the realities of our relationship. Can I ask you for a recommendation?
Learning how to overcome and manage this kind family dynamic is a whole learning process and skill set like relationship maintenance and emotional attuning skills for marriage.

Here is a book that I recommend for getting this learning process started. It's highly practical and New York Times best seller. Again, you may possibly find it in your local public library. If you'd like to order here is the link for amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Toxic-Parents-Overcoming-Hurtful-Reclaiming/dp/0553381407/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b

I hope this is helpful for you as well.
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David Akiva
David Akiva
David Akiva, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 167
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Experience: Counselor; Behavioral Consultant

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