A few years ago, a friend of mine was fighting with his wife. Well, to be more accurate, she was confronting him about how he hadn’t gone into work for a few days. It turns out he didn’t take a couple of jobs because he needed a break. That’s fair enough.
However, he didn’t tell his wife the truth because he wanted to avoid conflict. So, he drove downtown, hung out at Starbucks during his shift, then returned home. Taking a few days off from work because he was worn out was perfectly acceptable. However, his lying wasn’t. He wasn’t even a liar by nature. He just didn’t want to deal with the argument he thought would happen if he told the truth.
If your husband lies to avoid conflict, you’re not alone. Some men (and women) hate confrontation so much that they will do anything to avoid it, even lying. This is both good news and bad news if your spouse does this.
The good news is that your husband isn’t really a liar at heart. His goal isn’t really to deceive, just to avoid conflict. The bad news is that if he is willing to lie rather than face an issue head on, then that’s also a problem. He lacks assertiveness.
While it’s hard to fix liars, at least there are skills you both can learn to deal with conflict openly and directly. And, yes I said “both” because resolving conflict is a two way street, especially in a marriage, and you can help your husband become more open and assertive too.
My mom hates confrontation. In fact, one of the biggest lessons I learned growing up was that you don’t discuss important issues that make people upset. Keeping the peace becomes more important than anything else, even honesty.
Those who grow up in “people pleasing” households have a difficult time with conflict. In some cases, they might have been punished for daring to bring up problems in the family. This might be the case with your husband. He doesn’t want to start a fight that would upset you or him. He feels that not being truthful is better than going through the emotional pain of disagreements and arguing.
If your husband has learned the “value” of conflict avoidance, then you can help this by focusing on true honesty. And, the best way to do that is encourage him to be honest and authentic in your relationship.
Many people say they want honesty, but flip out when a person shares his or her opinion. You need to let your husband know that you value his honesty and would rather him be upfront about things, even if it upsets you. And, you’ll have to show him that in practice.
If he knows he can be himself without being “punished” then you will gradually see a greater willingness to deal with conflict, rather than lying.
If your relationship lacks open communication or he has a hard time telling you what’s on his mind, then he could lie simply because it’s easier than sharing what he’s thinking. So, if you both can find ways to open up the lines of communication and keep them open, he’ll be more likely to express himself, whether it’s related to conflicts or general discussion.
If you feel like there’s an issue that needs addressed, then you can bring it up. But, how you bring it up matters too. Many wives communicate in ways their husbands find off-putting. So, rather than open up, they clam up. And, if your husband feels too threatened by communication, he might resort to lying to avoid having to do it. Here are a few helpful communication tips to get your husband to open up and deal with conflict.
Many people go into difficult discussions with accusatory intent. They are upset about an issue, get mad, throw out accusations, raise their voices, and next thing they know a necessary discussion has turned into a fight. Can you really wonder why your husband would lie to avoid conflicts if “discussions” go like this?
The best way to encourage him to be open is to use “I statements” rather than “you statements” when addressing conflict that involves him. So, maybe he did something stupid that you didn’t like. If you rush in with “You never pay the phone bill on time. Are you an idiot? It’s clear you don’t care about anyone!” he’s going to get defensive and argumentative.
On the other hand, if you explain things from your perspective, he’s more likely to listen. “I get really anxious when you forget to pay the phone bill because they call my number and bother me. I know you’re busy, but I’d really appreciate it if we could figure this out.”
The second response comes from your perspective, recognizes he’s not being malicious, just forgetful, and opens the door to work together to solve it. That is how to deal with conflict. If you can approach your conversations that way, he won’t mind dealing with conflict in the future.
In many cases, one partner in a marriage will be more passive, while the other will be more assertive. If your husband hates conflict, he’s probably the more passive partner. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.
But, there is a tendency for more assertive, outgoing people to monopolize conversations and discussions. And, they can even get angry if the more introverted person doesn’t respond adequately or quickly enough.
The solution is to actively listen to your husband and for him to do the same with you. This means you actually hear his concerns. You don’t dismiss them or shout over him or get angry at him.
You don’t have to agree with him, of course or not state your feelings. But, active listening means you hear him out, acknowledge his thoughts and feelings, and work towards some type of resolution. If your husband knows that, at the very least, he can be heard, he’ll be more likely to accept the reality of conflict and deal with it rather than being untruthful.
So, if your husband hates confrontation and conflict, these tips should help you both honestly address the problems. If you can get get the lines of communication open and encourage honesty, then he won’t need to lie. And, your relationship can be better than ever!