how to deal with a lying spouseIt seems it’s a constant battle for the betrayed spouse to overcome the unfaithful partner’s unwillingness to talk openly and honestly.  After all, infidelity is about lies and deceit and even though there may be a mountain of evidence, the cheater typically will deny, lie and minimize the facts. 

So why is this?  Why does the cheater lie, omit facts or even refuse to talk at all about the affair? 

Infidelity expert Ruth Houston says that there can be many reasons…

  • Embarrassment
  • Guilt
  • Fear of your reaction
  • Concern for your feelings
  • Inability to express himself or herself
  • Fear you won’t forgive him or her
  • Fear that you’ll use what he/she says against him/her
  • Assuming talking won’t help
  • It’s an exit affair

As you know, trying to save a marriage after an affair requires complete disclosure.  A spouse, who has been cheated on, needs to feel that all of his or her questions have been answered truthfully.

From the betrayed spouse’s perspective, until you’re satisfied that the truth is being told it will be very difficult for you to trust your spouse again.

But, from the cheater’s perspective, there is a different set of dynamics going on.  Basically there are two possible outcomes:  1) lie about what happened with the hope of diffusing anger with confusion.  Or, 2) tell the truth and get punished even more.

Given this dynamic, it is easy to understand why most cheating spouses lie, even when confronted with evidence of their actions.

With all of this, how in the world can the cheater ever do an about-face and talk openly and honestly about the affair and about their feelings?

See also  Open Discussion: What Are You Learning About You?

So here are some discussion points to consider this week are…

Is there a way that you can convince or motivate the cheater to talk honestly?

Even if the cheater does start to talk, how do you know he/she is telling the truth?

Is it necessary to resort to spying in order to get the truth?

Is counseling the answer for how to deal with a lying spouse?

If the lies and deception continue, when do you say enough is enough, and leave, separate or possibly end the marriage?

We’d love to hear from other cheaters who decided that honesty and openness was the way to go.  What caused you to make the change?

Also, if any betrayed spouses out there feel that their partners did an about-face and are now living an open, honest and transparent life, please let everyone know how that occurred.

Please be sure to respond to one another in the comment section.


Linda & Doug



    28 replies to "Discussion – How to Deal With a Lying Spouse?"

    • chiffchaff

      I think the other reason CSs lie, as my H told me, is that they just can’t accept the extent of what they’ve done and if you say it and admit what you’ve done then it becomes real and has real effects. My H said that the longer he lied the more he didn’t have to accept what he’d done or why he’d done it. Or how pointless it all was as deep down he said he was really worried that if I knew the whole truth I would leave him and he didn’t want that – so what had the whole affair been for if he wasn’t wanting that? It was self-preservation and totally self-defeating.
      I believe (touches wood) that my H has become truthful and honest but there was no suddenness about it or ‘about face’. I had to discover his lies for what they were on multiple occasions over a too long period of time, until he realised that there was just no point in hiding. I had to practise listening in order to encourage him to continue but I did always pick him up on the inevitable inconsistences. It was more productive when he was tired and exhausted with the lying, which goes counter to what most books tell you.
      I feel that my H has come to accept that he’s not perfect and nor am I and that’s ok. He’s realised that alot of what he did wasn’t about our marriage at all but about himself. He mentioned several times that he felt relieved and better when he’d got a massive pack of lies out in the open. He seems to realise that allowing resentments to build and lying about what he really thinks in small ways each day is how the big lies get going. we’re both working on that.

      • tsd

        Perfect timing for me, and were married to same man chiffchaff!!!How does admitting to all the lies seem liberating to CS but BS feels worse?

    • Gizfield

      All I can say is Good Luck with this one. What truth, if any, I’ve gotten from my husband has been obtained through spying. I think lying becomes ingrained and part of your character if you do it enough, or long enough. When I was a cheater long ago, I was a huge liar as well. I was never caught but I was accused. I never admitted the truth, mostly due to fear. I guess you could classify getting beat up as punishment…

    • Gizfield

      What do you mean, Chiffchaff, about it being most productive when he is tired, and that it is different than what the books say?

      • chiffchaff

        Hi, the books I read advised not discussing difficult stuff like this when tired or limiting the length of conversations. it didn’t work for us. my H tended to relent and start giving details after the conversation ahd been going on some time or neither of us were able to sleep for the stress.

    • Gizfield

      Thanks for the info, CC. like you, I didn’t find the “cheater friendly” discussions too helpful. My husband is a salesman, lol. And given the opportunity, he will talk circles around you. texting and emailing helped me avoid that.

    • Paula

      Mine was truthful from d day. He said the facts were there in black and white. How could he continue to lie/deny? I think several factors. Long sexual affair. He finished it before she exposed it. Had it still been ongoing, he would have lied. He did for sixteen months. Had she ended it, he probably would have lied. He had come to the conclusion that he had made a gigantic cock-up and the only way out was truth. He was sick of lies. Sick of who he had become. This case was total mental health meltdown. Not just I will because I can. He was kind of “sick” and not how he would “normally” be. I have been lucky compared to those who have been/are still being lied to. No way to rebuild trust. Mine had the presence of mind to realise that straight away.

    • Saw the Light (formerly Roller Coaster Rider)

      My ex always had trouble with transparency. I think it came from a lifelong history of hiding and shame. There’s a strong likelihood his father was committing incest with his sister for 10 years or so, but the sister is also a bigtime liar, so that’s never been completely proven. As for what happened to him (my ex), I don’t truly know. When we were first dating, it wasn’t an issue because I didn’t ever press and hated confrontation. If something didn’t add up, I just let it go. Over the years, especially after having our kids, I couldn’t keep let the lying slide. And anyone that can look you in the eye and straight-up lie is someone I can’t deal with. Absolutely my polar opposite. What I have to work on in myself is not ever reverting again to denial, which is actually another form of self-deception. I sure hope my life going forward is true through and through.

    • Saw the Light (formerly Roller Coaster Rider)

      p.s. you said your H is a salesman, Giz, well mine is a lawyer. Go figure. He could always manipulate me with the words. We’re not having any more of those, at least not the conversational type. Just the litigation type.

    • Rachel

      Saw the light,
      How old is your husband. Mine turned 50 in 2011. At the beginning of February and was seeing his ex g.f. From 30 years ago at the end of February . I guess a mid life crisis??
      Of course he didn’t agree.
      He kept texting me last night that he wanted me back in February when his father died. Never said I love you I need you blah blah. He just said last night he wanted me near him at his fathers wake in february. A show piece. So people would believe that we were back together.
      I’m not sure why he is telling me this now, it doesn’t matter.its over and I will never go back to him.
      Didn’t work. Im on to his game now.

      • chiffchaff

        Rachel – is it worth changing your phone number or putting his number on a spam list? you don’t need him to be able to keep doing that to you.

      • Saw the Light (formerly Roller Coaster Rider)

        Rachel, I highly recommend changing your number so he can’t bother you. My ex is 58, I’m 57…and we’ve been together since I was 15 flipping years old. I think yours could be just like my ex, the way people view him is more important than anything. I spoke to his sister this morning, who I still have a good relationship with. She is sick about all this, but told me (as was mentioned by others in recent posts) “he will always be my brother.” He told her he’s still seeing the OW, and I say, “good for them.” He even admits it’s an unhealthy relationship, but he’s just so lonely. It’s all a barrel of crap…

    • livingonafence

      I hate the lies. Every last think I know about my H’s EA I’ve found out myself. If I don’t have proof, it didn’t happen. He lied, denied, etc.
      What they don’t realize is that when they lie, we know something isn’t right and after an EA our brains are on overdrive so we just dig and dig until we find it. When we do, it’s that much worse for them.

    • AL

      I’m still in a constant struggle to know whether my wife is telling me the truth. She admitted that she still has feelings for the OP more than a month after d-day when she said she ended everything, and has since separated with me for less than a week to spend the night at his house twice. We have 3 children who I’m responsible for and that keeps her having to talk to me, but she has chosen to lie about anything that could potentially hurt my feelings. The saying I keep telling her is “truth hurts, lies injure, silence kills” (regarding relationships of course), but still there is no end in sight for the lies.

      • livingonafence

        Well I can’t help you with the lies – some people are just like that. However, you don’t have to accept her behavior. Dig around – most people find that the cheating spouse will act selfish and continue to do what they want (trying to hide it of course) for as long as the BS allows. When the BS puts their foot down and ends the relationship with the CS, the CS has a ‘moment of clarity” and realizes what they are destroying and usually ends the affair and never looks back.

        I’ve heard it’s different with men and women, in that men often cheat because it feels good even though they still love their spouse. Women tend to have different reasons.

    • theresa

      I forget the source,
      Husband and wife in divorce court. He is accused of having an affair. And he won’t come clean . He is testifying that there was no affair. The wife’s lawyer proceeds to ask a series of specific questions and he denies or justifies or does not recall, in response.
      Where were you on this date?
      Business meeting in Ohio
      Not in Boston?
      Oh wait, I forgot, the meeting location had changed to Boston.
      Where you at the xxxxx hotel?
      No. Oh right, went to meeting there
      What did you do after the meeting?
      I had dinner in my room
      Did you go to the bar?
      Oh, stopped for one drink and left
      Did you meet anyone at the bar? (Can you hear it coming?)
      Oh yeah, Just a few of the other people at the meeting
      Did you leave with a woman.?
      Did you have someone with you coming and going to the airport?
      No….oh wait I walked her to the cab stand.
      Please look at these pictures.
      Who is the woman in the photo, at the bar, walking to your room?
      Why did you lie?
      I didn’t know you had pictures.

    • Gizfield

      Yes, he doesn’t need to be bothering you now. They say when The Other Woman becomes the girlfriend /wife her old position becomes available. If you have a smart phone, there are all kind of apps that will forward texts and calls to a junk box without even seeing them. You can check it every so often if you want even. Also, most cell providers will let you block a certain number of cell numbers free. I tried “thinking like a cheater” and there are so many ways to control calls, texts, and emails. Too bad most cheaters are too stupid to use them, lol.

    • Gizfield

      What I meant Rachel is that now his girlfriend isn’t as interesting because there’s no competition anymore. He likes being the center of the big old soap opera…

    • Saw the Light (formerly Roller Coaster Rider)

      So perceptive, Gizfield. Among many other things I discovered in July, one was that my ex cheated on the OW with me during the six months prior to asking me to remarry him. We weren’t intimate, but she didn’t know he was talking to me, texting me, eating dinner with me often, writing a letter of intent to let our kids know his motives were honorable in seeing me again…blah, blah. And of course, I had no idea about his being with her at any level or I would never have considered even a casual friendship with him. The center of attention with lots of drama did seem to be his forte…

    • Gizfield

      Thanks, Saw the Light. I almost think the biggest charge of the whole damn thing is after they are discovered and have Two KNOWING Women on the string. What an ego boost that must be for them. I don’t even think that it’s anything special about the other woman. They are feeling like they are either the Star Quarterback Again if they ever where and if not, it’s like they are now. The big Cheese. They are the Chosen One. Like my husband didnt mind playing his mind games with me, TIL he found his ass out on the street. Then it wasn’t fun anymore ….

    • chiffchaff

      still dealing with ‘secretive behaviour’ of my H. discovered images of models who look like the OW on his work laptop. he doesn’t usually bring it home and he’s only had it a few months. what am I supposed to do with that? really demoralised me. I will never look like that. ever. is that all he really wants? some fantasy woman?

      • chiffchaff

        I know I have my own secretive behaviour issues by looking at his laptop when he’d left it logged on and open in our dining room. considering that I should ask him outright to let me see the content of devices he brings home like that so that I don’t worry about what might or might not be on them. I don’t trust him and I know that this hurts him but I know he knows why I don’t trust him.
        we’re facing some big decisions soon about moving house/jobs relacting etc. and the issue of trust is becoming pertinent again. one of the the possibilities is that we have to live apart for many months and I just don’t know if I could trust him during that time, I really don’t.

    • tryingtoowife

      Chiffchaff – If he has nothing to hide, then there is nothing to care about you looking into his computer. If he can explain what you found and it makes sense to you, then all is OK. I believe that he can and should expect your curiosity, since as you said he does not bring it home often. Only time and his action will get this need out of you. According to my therapist it should have nothing that I could not discuss with my husband and he with me. Although that is simple in itself, it is easier said than done. But this is achieved in exercising it through out our relationship, and with time it might happen! In my IMHO, there is no time limit to feel secure and stop the checking. There might be a reasonable long time since you have done it, and now with a new computer in front of you, you felt the urge to do again. So what? Had you found nothing you would feel fine. You found something and it does not make you feel right. Is there a reasonable explanation you can find yourself as why of those picture there? Work related perhaps? Otherwise, ask. Discuss, don’t accuse. And I would expect, if it was my husband to be able to, to get a satisfactory answer, and not been seen as suspicious but careful not to fall into old behavior where trust was blinding, and then deal with it and move on. It is better than have this on your mind. I notice my husband now, when we are near someone that looks like the OW, feel uncomfortable because he does know that I am uncomfortable. It is not ideal but I prefer like this than before, when he would be all charming! I watch, and will do so until I feel totally OK. I am not obsessed with the women that look alike her any more, and I don’t care for the low life whore he had an affair with, and I don’t check his mobile or computer, but security and trust of nearly two decades, were destroyed, and it will take time and his total help to rebuild it. If he is not happy with this, than we would have nothing to work for. We would be done.

      • chiffchaff

        that’s a very useful reply, thank you. I have consider that I must take to him about what I found and on the whole I found nothing else to worry about. I notice that he does react oddly to women we meet with american accents and also tends to stare at women who I think look like the OW. It’s a complex situation as you say, he could be reacting because he knows it’s something I’m sensitive about. I am also aware that I can feel very sensitive and negative about my looks and still feel like I am a moose compared to the OW and the other other women he had flings with. But that makes me feel shallow about myself but maybe it’s also because I get little feedback from my H about what he actually likes about me. I asked him recently if he found me attractive and he said yes so I asked him ‘how would I know that?’ and he had to admit that as he never says anything positive I wouldn’t ever know.

        • michelle

          I promise you that your looks had nothing to do with the affair. Men do not have affairs because a woman is more beautiful than their partner. He found you so beautiful that he wanted to marry you. Therefore, I promise that is your own insecurity talking. You must learn to value yourself, to appreciate your own beauty. I promise he cheated for some other reason than your looks. You need to find out why to put this to rest. It is possible he doesn’t know why or is too scared to tell you why. Men cheat for many reasons, but rarely is it because a woman looks better than his wife. Often it is because somebody who doesn’t know him finds him attractive. He can be anybody and anything to her. She doesn’t know him like you do. Think about it, do you still hang on his words like you did in the beginning? Or, do you see him as human, faults and all. Right, she only sees his charm. Therefore,it has nothing to do with your looks.
          Please, learn to love yourself. And yes, you have a right to the truth, but I am telling you that you must love yourself first. Oh, I know the blow of the cheat, but you must know you are Worth more than that.

    • Sheila Woods

      Thanks for sharing. I have been in the same situation several times and I still find it somewhat difficult to make my partner open up and talk about it. You have given out points that has helped me realize what I should and should not expect. i love my partner so much and I am willing to make things work. I usually hope he feels the same way.

    • Bobby

      My wife cheated many years ago, a positive. She still lies, and get’s extremely offensive. To make the cheating even more real she cheated with our Methodist Pastor. The small town knew it. She still lies. Now this could be a very long story Nah let’s Quit.

    • Lostuk

      My wife had a 4 month EA, but met in person once apparantly for a ten minute chat. Every piece of information I found out came from the other man’s wife and not one piece of info was admitted by my W. Im under the impression it is now over, despite catching her a further 4 times still speaking to him from d day. I still feel there is so much I dont know, she is intent on carrying on life like nothing has happened and I’m now certain ill never find out the full extent as whenever I try to raise the subject I’m told I need to let her have a chance to move on from it without bringing it up all the time! It’s still eating me up daily and although her behaviour is different to when it was all happening, I’m still not 100% sure he hasn’t been contacting her. Why do we put ourselves through this?! Wish j had the strength to walk. But after 12 years and still loving her like crazy I can’t see it happening any time soon

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