Linda was stunned when she found out how often her husband lies to her. It all came out one stormy afternoon after she read a strange comment someone posted on her husband’s Facebook page about how much he hates kale.
“What does this mean that you hate kale?” Linda asked him. “Every time I serve it for dinner, you eat it up and tell me it tastes good.”
After a few more questions and several minutes of uncomfortable silence, Linda’s husband fessed up. He admitted to her that not only does his dislike kale, he complains about it often to his friends. Going further, he sheepishly told Linda how much he misses eating the way he used to before Linda put them both on a “health food diet.”
At first Linda blew off this discovery as just her husband being resistant to cleaning up his eating habits, but then she started to wonder… what else has he been lying about?
After a few more answers to more questions, it became painfully clear that Linda’s husband mostly tells her what she wants to hear, even if it means frequently telling her blatant lies. She feels hurt and angry and wonders if she can trust anything that comes out of his mouth.
There is a BIG relationship lesson in this situation for Linda.
If she can look beyond her frustration about her husband’s lying, she’ll be able to see it. Linda’s opportunity here is to notice what she’s been inviting into her marriage. From the feedback she’s received from her husband, he believes that in order for her to be happy, he HAS to agree and tell her only what she wants to hear.
Unintentionally, throughout their marriage, Linda has been an invitation for half-truths and dishonesty.
Without meaning to, she’s made it unpleasant and even unsafe for her husband to be completely honest with her. Her habit of criticizing, pushing her agenda, assuming that he’ll always say “yes” and not really listening to what he thinks and wants have formed this invitation that she never meant to send.
You can have the best intentions in the world for your partner, yourself and your relationship and end up sending out an invitation for what you do NOT want. In your relationship, the invitation might not be related to honesty and openness. Maybe it has to do with showing respect or expressing adoration and love.
Maybe you have been unintentionally inviting your partner to treat you exactly the opposite of what you’re longing for and you’re seeing in his or her words and actions this reflected back to you. You’re not getting the kind of behavior from your partner that you’d like– even though you may have actually asked for it.
Unfortunately, your repeated mood, attitude, words and behavior have invited something else. The sooner you recognize what kind of invitation you’re sending out to your partner, the sooner a positive shift can happen.
Does this mean your partner is off the hook?
If it sounds to you like we’re saying you’re the one “to blame” or that you somehow deserve the disappointment and frustration, we’re not.
Your partner IS responsible for his or her decisions whether that is the decision to lie, shut down, hold back from intimacy, yell at you, cheat or whatever it is that’s going on. The piece that we hope you’ll take away from this, however, is that you share responsibility too.
Your partner is not off the hook and neither are you.
When you identify the role you play in the dynamics, you discover where you can change and improve your relationship. You can acknowledge that your partner is making his or her own choices that aren’t helping matters AND you’re finding ways that you can promote and support something different and desired.
Send out clear and conscious invitations for what you DO want.
Know what it is that you really want in your relationship. This isn’t about manipulation; it’s about lining up with the kind of honesty, trust, connection, closeness, affection, respect and passion that you’re looking for.
This is about you inviting in more of what you DO want.
When Linda gets over her shock and realizes this, she can see the many ways she’s given her husband a clear message that she only wants to hear “yes” and “I agree” from him. She starts to respond differently and begins by making a clear statement to him that from now on she wants to know the truth– whether it’s about kale or anything else. Linda apologizes to her husband for being pushy and critical over the years and asks him to be patient with her as she practices being more accepting, open and loving.
This is the kind of conversation you can have with your partner too. It must be sincere and come from your heart and it’s got to become your new habit.
What kind of an invitation will you send out?