Lies and Infidelity

How to Get the Most From Your Couples Therapy

Couples are often uncertain what to expect from the process of couples therapy. They are not sure of what to expect of the therapist or even if the therapist has any expectations of them. I have found most couples approach therapy with the notion that each person will describe their distress and somehow the therapist will assist them to create a happier, more functional, relationship. They expect to learn some new or better skills. However, most people hope their partner will do most of the learning in problem areas. After 30 years of clinical experience and specializing in working with thousands of couples, I have arrived at some guidelines that can make our work more effective. First, I do have some expectations of you. I am not neutral. I have evolved principles and concepts that I believe give us the greatest chance for success.

Why We Lie, and How to Get Back to the Truth

We’re going to talk about lies. Why do we lie – ever? And while it’s easy to perhaps scapegoat people who aren’t telling the whole truth – as with anything in relationship – it takes TWO to tango – so how does the person who’s being lied TO help create the dynamic? Most importantly – how do you bring your relationship back into balance, so that you can experience the power created by telling the truth and being in integrity. Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson are two of the world’s leading experts on couples therapy and the topic of honesty in relationship, and their groundbreaking book – Tell me No Lies – explores exactly these questions about how to undo the damage caused by all lies – big and small – in relationships.… Read more... “Why We Lie, and How to Get Back to the Truth”

He could have told a lie, but he didn’t.

In a recent couples therapy session we were talking about Taylor’s memory. He forgot (yet again) what we had discussed the previous week. Interestingly, this is a common occurrence for many couples I see even though they are intelligent, high-achieving, and powerfully positioned in major corporations. It turned out his memory problem went beyond forgetting our meetings. And it bothered him a lot. We discussed the impact of his bad memory on his partner Ashley. She had to compensate in multiple ways. She would feel unimportant to him and react in pouty punishing ways which then triggered him. She then asked if the reason he didn’t ever call her during the day just to say “Hi” was because he couldn’t remember.… Read more... “He could have told a lie, but he didn’t.”

The affair, the discovery, the betrayer’s first task…

Many people say the worst marital crime is having an affair. It breaks the bonds of trust that were assumed at the beginning of your relationship. Imagine you are in a start up company that is struggling. Then it is discovered that your partner has been embezzling funds. You started your company together with optimism and hope. Of course you assumed you could trust each other, so you never dreamed of such a thing, let alone “planned” how you would handle it! The aftershocks and consequences of the discovery ripple through the entire business and partnership. I am reminded of Gandhi’s observation about trust: “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything else he does becomes tainted.” You don’t know what is truth or deception when you talk to the embezzler.… Read more... “The affair, the discovery, the betrayer’s first task…”

Has your spouse cheated on you?

…a starting point for overcoming the pain of infidelity. Holy #@%!, I don’t need to tell you about the anguish you’re going through if you've discovered your partner cheated. Most couples don’t have a “no cheat” agreement. It is simply assumed you won’t lie about who you are with and what you are doing. The discovery feels like getting hit in the stomach by a cinder block flying at the speed of sound. Suddenly it feels like your relationship was built on a pile of broken stones. What’s real? What can you believe? You wonder if you are crazy. (You’re not.) You wonder if you should stay or go. You contemplate the painful uncertainties of any decision you make.… Read more... “Has your spouse cheated on you?”

How to Tell the Truth, Part 2

Last month we presented the first six steps to telling the truth with your partner, even when it's on a difficult or touchy subject. To review the article, where the steps are described in more detail, click here 1. Make the decision to be truthful. 2. Decide what you want to happen. 3. Explore your own avoidance. 4. Set a time and a place. 5. Don't be passive aggressive. 6. Plan what you will say or do. This month we'll pick up where we left off. Tina's been preparing to bring up the difficult subject of faking orgasms with her husband Tom. It's finally time to start the conversation she's been thinking about.… Read more... “How to Tell the Truth, Part 2”

Six Steps to Telling the Truth

  It's understandable that couples are wary about bringing up sensitive topics. The avoidance of pain and distress are major motivators to go into hiding. But too much avoidance or passive behavior can lead to marital corrosion. So how can this difficult problem be managed? Because of the extra length, this month's column is divided into two parts with the second part finishing next month. We will follow Tina and Tom through their truth-telling process. They met as students at a large Midwestern university and married soon after graduation. They both come from religious, church-going families.… Read more... “Six Steps to Telling the Truth”