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How do I Deal with My Wife's Dishonesty?

QUESTION: I am male. All of your marriage issues seem to be from the female point of view so I decided to ask you. I have been married for 8 months and I have discovered that my wife has been lying to me. She gets on the chat lines which didn't bother me until last night. I logged on and I forgot to change the user name so everyone thought that I was my wife. This guy starts asking me if I am going to call him and stuff. I found his number in her wallet. I don't care if she makes friends, but what got to me was that he said that my wife had told him that she was unhappy. I confronted her about it and she says she never told him that. She said that she never intended to call him, so I asked why his number was in her wallet. I decided that if I can't tell that she is not happy and she doesn't tell me then I am not going to worry about it because she needs to be able to talk to me and if she can't then that is her fault. So, I'm calmed down, but still unhappy.

I did something I should not have done and I got this program that records keystrokes on the computer so I can see what she is saying. I read the log just now and it turns out that she has more numbers of people (which I had asked her about and she told me that she promised that she didn't) and she lied to the people about what happened. She is free to be friends with whomever she wants, but she is not free to lie to me.

I'm not perfect, but I do try my hardest to be honest with her. The only time I have lied to her is when I bought a video game and she caught me and I felt bad. She lied to me even after I caught her and I gave her the opportunity to come clean with me and discuss any problems. I am so lost right now, I don't know what to do. I want this marriage to work out more than anything. If you can't respond to this then can you tell me where I can turn to?

ANSWER: Although you believe that you are committed to honesty in your relationship, you have resorted to "spying" on your wife. Whatever is going on, your behavior is falling into dangerously deceptive territory. You are fast becoming the kind of person you do not like! Do not let this happen.

Trust has been broken by both of you at this point in your marriage. Do not fool yourself into believing that the means justifies the ends. What are the reasons for this? Ask your wife to tell you what is going on with her. Let her know that you have resorted to using a computer program to "spy" on her and that you are distressed by your own actions. Apologize and request that she consult with a marriage counselor about the current state of your marriage.

This is not a question of whether or not your wife is "happy" with you. It is a matter of honesty. Without honesty there is no trust. Without trust there is no intimacy in the marriage. Your marriage is clearly in trouble, whether or not your wife proclaims to be "happy". Clearly, you are greatly disturbed by what is going on. State your own unhappiness clearly and seek help to unravel the reasons for your emotional distance from one another. Perhaps with help and guidance, you will be able to create a safe place to begin repairing the damage.

Seek to understand what has led you to this place, rather than getting caught up in becoming a detective in your marriage. This kind of "sleuthing" will lead only to more deception and loss of your own self-respect. You are in the process of becoming what you most detest.

If you lose your marriage, you will experience sadness and great disappointment, but you will heal. If however, you forfeit your own integrity in the process of being married, you may never recover.


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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