Welcome Meddleheads, to the column where your crazy meets my crazy! Please send your questions. You can use this form, or send them via email. Not only will you immediately feel much better, you’ll also get some advice.
I need advice about a lie that was told and the aftermath. My husband has a friend at work who we have socialized with about half a dozen times or so. I have not been too fond of him but I know my husband considers him a close friend. A few weeks ago, this friend and my husband told me a lie about their plans for that evening. In reality, his friend lied to me to back up the lie my husband told. I immediately felt uncomfortable, as the lie was so obvious. I addressed it with my husband later that day. I told him how angry I was about it and we have been working to resolve it.
Here’s the catch: I am still very angry with the friend for lying to me and I have told my husband that I no longer want to socialize or be around him. I don't feel I know the friend well enough to address the issue of the lie with him, although my husband told me his friend figured out, as they share a work space and I'm sure he overheard the conversation I had with my husband. Either that or my husband just told him. I also told my husband I am a little embarrassed or humiliated since he and this friend shared in this lie and that makes me very uncomfortable and hence I don't want to be around this couple and pretend that I’m ok with his lie to me.
I immediately felt uncomfortable, as the lie was so obvious.
The issue of socializing with them has come up since. My husband wants to visit them at their weekend home and I have resisted it. My husband tells me I am overreacting and being controlling. I have thought that perhaps it’s easy for me to take the moral high ground here because they’re not good friends of mine. Am I wrong to not want to interact with someone who lied to me? Should I try to address the issue somehow with his friend?
I am worried that if I show my anger there could be repercussions for my husband, because he is a work friend. I know my husband sees him everyday and I do want to consider him as well.
Friends Against Liars
This is a complicated question, which is hard for me to answer without knowing the precise nature of the lie your husband told. Was it an effort to avoid time with you? Or domestic duties? Was it for a guys’ night out? Or was the lie meant to hide something more damaging?
I ask this because there’s a big difference between a friend who does his buddy a solid so they can watch a game and one who — to take an extreme example — enables infidelity.
In any case, the question I’d be asking is not so much whether you enjoy this guy’s company, but whether you consider him to be a bad influence. Because simply lying at your husband’s bidding, while contemptible, appears to be an act of loyalty more than an active effort to betray your trust.
I realize your conscious concern here centers on how much you should socialize with this friend. But I just don’t think that’s the central issue here.
The subtext of your letter, in my view, is that you and your husband are struggling with some trust issues. It’s good that you’re working with him to resolve these. But it’s not so good that it’s still preoccupying you, nor that he’s dismissing your reluctance to hang out with this friend.
My hunch is that you’re struggling with an internal conflict. One part of you is furious at your husband, because he is the central author of this betrayal, and because he appears to be placing his affection for this friend above his loyalty to you. The other part of you is frightened to face this rage, because it may suggest a deeper crisis of faith in the relationship.
all roads in a marriage lead back to your partner. He is the one with whom you have to resolve this conflict.
Your solution, so far as I can tell, has been to displace some of your anger onto this friend.
But all roads in a marriage lead back to your partner. He is the one with whom you have to resolve this conflict. This will require you to face the extent of your disappointment and hurt. This has nothing to do with overreacting, or being controlling. It has to do with being honest, and making yourself vulnerable. You have to be able to tell your husband that his lie (and his enlisting his friend to lie) is humiliating to you.
I realize it’s hard to admit such things, particularly to the person who violated your trust. But until your husband is made to understand how much this episode upset you, I suspect this friend of his will continue to agitate you.
If you find it difficult to resolve this issue with your husband—that is, if you find yourself reluctant to level with him, or he continues to blame you for being upset—it may be worth consulting with a marriage counselor, if you haven’t.
I realize this may sound scary, but you have to trust your own feelings. “My husband lied to me” is more difficult to confront than “a lie was told.” It’s also more accurate.
Author's note: I’m always suspicious when a problem is presented in the passive voice (i.e. “a lie was told”). It’s a way of hiding the culprit. What do you guys think? Am I being too hard on the husband? Not hard enough? Send your thoughts along in the comments section below. And feel free to send a letter to Heavy Meddle, too. You can use this form, or send your questions via email. I may not have a helpful response, but the act of writing the letter itself might provide some clarity. — S.A.