Lying is significant problem for many men and women in recovery. It doesn’t matter what the addiction is. Both genders lie, but each lie differently. It has been my experience that men lie by removing themselves from the truth. They will run from the truth, try and hide from it, bury it, forget it, justify it or compartmentalize it.
At the same time, they will run toward a fantasy. In fact, they will run toward a fantasy woman to avoid truth and honesty. They long to be grown men, able to conquer the world, including a woman. Most little boys do not fantasize about little girls. They fantasize about being sexual with a grown woman. The problem is a relationship with a fantasy woman keeps them stuck as little boys. Women do not make men. Men make men. Because of this, men have big lies with little boy excuses.
Men will lie about porn, masturbation, infidelity, affairs, large purchases, business deals, or taxes, etc. I believe men and women protect the things they love. They say they love their spouse and children. However, when they lie, their behavior may show they love their own image, reputation, money, secrets, self-interest, and future.
One can lie by the lack of admission to something. We can lie by convincing ourselves we did not behave in that way. However, the most common lie is the lie by omission. I have witnessed over and over how men and women simply lie by omitting information they have not been specifically asked.
So why do men lie? Guilt and shame are the number one reasons why men lie. Guilt says, “You made a mistake”. Shame says, “You are the mistake”. Shame is very deadly and toxic. Often, it is the saltwater that keeps the addict returning in their thirst to drink more; but at the same time, it is killing them. Men will avoid guilt and shame at all costs. It is better to live in denial than to feel negative emotions that their behaviors have caused or to share their secrets with their spouse. When a man is enslaved by lies, this is usually incomprehensible.
After a period of time, which could be weeks or decades, men begin to believe the lie to be the truth and begin to live in this new “truth”. It has been said, “A lie is 99 percent truth”. It is just that little bit off. The lie becomes so real that a man can actually begin to rewrite the story and create a new version. They can compartmentalize it from the “good” and the “bad” self and, in some cases, disassociate.
Lying starts with himself first.
- If she truly knew me, she would not love me. For most men, the truth is that they do not trust their wife with this level of vulnerability due to an imagined negative response she might have. Past experiences of sharing smaller lies with her has revealed that she is a not a safe person to share with. She may have a history of verbally or emotionally shaming him with her anger and words. She may have also become physically abusive or threatening toward him.
- It’s not that bad. That was my last time. I will never do it again. These are the lies men tell themselves that keep them stuck in the addiction. The truth is often worse than they think. It will not be their last time, and they will problem act out in their addiction again.
- No one will understand. I am too far gone. I am alone. The truth is you are not alone. There are millions of men struggling with this elephant in the room. There are recovery and support groups of men meeting every day all around you. These are courageous men who have struggled with lying in their own marriages. You just don’t know it yet.
- If I tell my spouse, I will die. This sounds drastic; however, to most men, this is how it feels. What they are really saying is that their public and private image will be forever changed, which is generally true. However, they will experience such freedom that they will eventually begin sharing their story with other men to help set them free too.
Then, he lies to his spouse.
- I don’t want to hurt my partner. This is a popular reason why many men lie. There is truth in this, but it is still a lie. I have found more women leave the marriage, because he has continued to lie versus those who have received truthful information of sexual acts committed outside of marriage.
- She can’t handle it. I am protecting her. She’s too fragile. The truth is that women can handle the general information but not the lying. Lying to a woman is what destroys her heart. Women would rather know the truth even though it hurts than be lied to covertly or overtly. Most women are far stronger emotionally than men think and are oftentimes the hero of the story. Many times after full disclosure, I have witnessed a wife consoling her husband even though she is the one who was just “dumped on”.
- She will leave me if she knows what I have done; therefore, she can never know the truth. It is true that she might leave him. However, it is generally not because she doesn’t love him. This is also an example of his own codependency. Oftentimes, the reason women leave after the truth of infidelity is exposed is for a few reasons:
- He continues to lie; being dishonest and deceptive.
- He continues to lie by omission or half-truths.
- He continues to stay in his addiction.
- She wants out and takes the opportunity.
- She is unable to forgive and let go of the offense.
- She sees herself better than him and believes she deserves better than he can offer or ever become in the future.
- She leaves, because it is too painful for her to stay.
- Telling her the truth will destroy the intimacy and closeness that we have. The truth is secrets and lying in a marriage keep you from having real intimacy. If you think you have intimacy now, wait until you have a clean heart and conscious. The truth will hurt her. However, in time as trust is restored and honesty becomes the new norm, intimacy in and outside the bedroom will improve dramatically. Then, you may have the marriage you always wanted.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.