IN marriage (and at all stages in a love relationship) the importance of truth cannot be overemphasised. Truth breeds trust, an essential pillar of love and marriage. Blessed are they who endeavour to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
But just look at yourself: All human and selfish, prioritising love durability at all costs, how can you imagine that it wonâ€™t be at the expense of truth?
Objectively speaking, relationships are held together by a delicate balance of honesty and deceit. First, itâ€™s because when you stay with a person for long, there are lots of opportunities and need for deception. Former US President Benjamin Franklin once said: â€œHalf truth is often a great lie. But I say it is always a lie.â€
Love is like politics. You may need to tell the electorate what they want to hear, promise what you know you wonâ€™t give and deny your evil side for the sake of the next election. In both games, the sly thrive.
What is a lie?
We may need to define what a lie is scientifically. Lies are not only about speaking falsehoods, but they are also about silence to the truth, concealment, fabrication, deception (verbal and non-verbal) and all those innocent lies some writers love to call â€˜white liesâ€™. Am I widening the district? Just wait.
You may speak the truth (I love you) but exaggerate the detail (I think of you every moment of my life); you have lied. You may keep quiet when you should have told the truth (I already have two kids with another man), you have lied. You may avoid the truth by changing the subject (â€œAm I fat Sweetie?â€ Answer: Have you read Connect this Saturday?); you have lied. You may appear to be what you are not to impress the date (â€œMy car â€¦â€ â€“ referring to the borrowed one); you have lied.
Even selective story telling is a lie. You narrate what happened at this function you attended and skip the part where you bought beer for the girl you thought you could land; you have lied. You may pretend you love your in-laws, falsify your age, praise their average beauty to gain their approval, all in effort to be romantic, to pass time, to protect your informants, to save the relationship etc. But as long as it is not nothing but the naked truth, you have lied. That includes about all of you. Doesnâ€™t it?
The position of lies
Relationship counsellors agree that a single lie can lead to a need for more lies. Men are careless liars and most eventually give themselves away because they tend to forget the lies they told in the recent past.
Women have an integrated brain that can record many details to enable them remember not only the details of a story told but also which lies they told several years back.
Some lies are difficult to forgive. They can extinguish trust, motivation to stick to the truth, cause people to question what else they were to lied about, lead to inhibition and general disappointment. A lot of effort is required to rectify the new mentality.
Some lies are lethal (the children in the marriage donâ€™t belong to you) and others are mild (the shirt I bought you was sh10,000 cheaper than I claimed).
Some are actually welcome (you are the most handsome man in the world) and others unnecessary (Akankwasa of the sh900m comes from my village).
How do you decide when to lie?
Whenever I talk about this subject in counselling, seminars and discussions, I always end up with this question. And my answer is, donâ€™t let lies be your conscious option of solving issues. The fewer lies you wind around your affair, the freer you become in your marriage. Donâ€™t choose to lie. Let it be an instinctive reaction whose intention is good for the relationship in the long run. Let lies be an exception and not the rule. That is why there must be a delicate balance of honesty and deceit.
For some issues, the hurting truth is better than a life long struggle with supportive lies, back up plans, alibis, always on guard and sometimes need for falsified documents.
We are all human. Before you throw out your respect for a partner who has lied to you, think of yourself: Have you never lied? Put yourself in Belovedâ€™s shoes and feel the compulsion they must have felt to opt for that alternative. You will find forgiveness easier, although you shouldnâ€™t use it as a bargaining chip for your plans to lie. If you must lie, the motive must be good. Such lies are safer and only get you in trouble when the whole environment is already polluted and both of you are bound to be at each otherâ€™s necks anyway. In good communication times, they can be a laughing-off incident.
Above all, donâ€™t live your life trying to catch lies. Enjoy your relationship by trusting. Playing detective, sniffing around every detail for lies, wastes lots of calories which would be beneficial elsewhere.
Trust your partner and let them know it. It builds in them self-restraint that is likely to cause self censorship which is good for the relationship. And above all, help your partner to be more honest.
The writer is a relationship counsellor
Love and lies: two sides of the same coin?