Lies, all lies!

Dear Amy: My husband of many years, “Franklin,” has a strategy of lying to me to get his way or avoid confrontation.

Three examples, all this week:

We make an annual, very substantial contribution to an arts organization where he’s on the board.

When I reviewed this, he told me that most of the board members give this amount (if not more).

I then discovered that we give 20 times more than most of the other board members.

Franklin was planning a party. I have some social anxiety and asked him about the growing guest list.

He told me that the caterer had a minimum requirement of 20 people. I asked the caterer — no minimum.

One of Franklin’s brothers will be in our area for one night.

Franklin neglected to tell me that not only will his brother and wife be staying with us for a full week, but that other members of his family will also be staying with us for the week.

When I found out about the family invasion, Franklin’s response was he was looking for the right moment to tell me to avoid an argument.

This has been going on for decades, including lies that I found out about 10 years later.

This is really starting to affect me.

It’s obviously a matter of being able to trust him.

On his part, I get the feeling that he sees me as an impediment that he has to figure out ways of manipulating his way around.

Everything else in our relationship is pretty wonderful, but this is gnawing at me more and more. Is there anything I can do?

— Tired of Being Lied to

Tired: You are (somewhat kindly) seeing this as manipulation.

Manipulation is persuasion plus pressure.

Outright lying saves “Franklin” the trouble of trying to manipulate you.

And inviting family members to stay for days on end in your home without your consent is a flat-out power grab.

You see this as a trust issue, and I agree. You don’t trust Franklin, but he also doesn’t trust you to react predictably to his various schemes.

Lying or hiding the truth from you until it is too late for you to have a say is cowardly.

Because you two have an otherwise wonderful relationship, I sincerely believe you can work this out, especially with the help of a qualified counselor.

Mediation can show each of you how to communicate differently. You can practice truthful conversations where you resolve challenges, and where you compromise — instead of him lying and you reacting. (c) Ask Amy

Ask Amy has lost her mind. She seems to believe that Franklin is lying because the letter writer has a tendency to overreact when told the truth. I think Ask Amy has drawn the wrong conclusion here, although I understand her urge to read between the lines, which I often do myself. But in this instance, it seems more likely that Franklin is lying to get his way. If his wife is putting up arguments over what he wants, it’s within her right to do so.

First off, he donated twenty times what other people donate. He’s on the board of the arts organization, so we can assume that he was trying to buy some form of leadership. His wife would have every right to protest such a donation.

Then, he lied about the caterers requiring a minimum, which showed no respect whatsoever for his wife’s social anxiety.

Then, he said his brother was going to spend the night, when in reality, several family members would be staying all week. Which sort of wife would be agreeable to that?! I don’t know!

Ask Amy seems to think that the letter writer is going postal to the point that Franklin has to lie.

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Yeah, right. I’m not buying it. I don’t think the letter writer is hiding a “Mommie Dearest” side, as pictured above.

On his part, I get the feeling that he sees me as an impediment that he has to figure out ways of manipulating his way around.

Right. If the letter writer were a huge overreacter, I think she would’ve mentioned it, because she seems forthcoming and frustrated. I get the sense that this guy’s a chronic liar because he has no qualms about lying.

I lie a lot, but I have rules about it. Like, I’ll lie to be tactful, or I’ll lie to protect someone’s personal information, or I’ll lie to deal with a situation temporarily. Like, if I’m in a horrible mood and someone asks me what’s wrong, I might say “Nothing!” because I’m not ready to talk about it. The truth usually comes out.

Another time I’ll lie is when I’m interacting with someone who I don’t trust. I lie to my mom a lot about my siblings, because just telling her, “I don’t want to talk to you about my siblings,” gets me nowhere. So when she asks if I’ve heard from my brother, I always say no in a curious voice, and then I ask if she’s heard from him. She falls for this every single time. But if I tell the truth, “Yes, I heard from him yesterday,” then she’ll immediately start trying to get info about him. She’s sort of shameless in that regard. It has to be cut off at the pass, when she asks if I’ve heard from him.

So I lie for protection, tact, and coping. I would consider it morally wrong to lie in the circumstances that Franklin lies. I would not tell those lies.

When I found out about the family invasion, Franklin’s response was he was looking for the right moment to tell me to avoid an argument.

I think that would make any wife angry. Franklin has no right to be manipulative just because his wife won’t approve of several family members staying for a week. It doesn’t work that way. I don’t approve of their visit, and I haven’t even met Franklin’s family members.

That said, I have no idea what to recommend, other than marriage counseling or divorce. It’s a stumper. The problem is that his lies are incredibly disrespectful in nature. He’s lying specifically and repeatedly so that he can bypass her input and get his way. That doesn’t sound like a healthy or happy partnership to me. It sounds more like the letter writer’s being… what’s the word?… oh well, I can’t think of it. [Two minutes later…] Oh! Steamrollered. Yeah, that’s a hard word to remember! I don’t think it’s quite the right word, but… oh well. Since I spent forever remembering it, there it is.

It’s also unseemly to coax someone into a situation with lies. Like, first it’s one family member who will be spending the night. The letter writer agrees to it. Eventually, it’s that person and his wife, and their other family members, staying a whole week. But, ha! The letter writer agreed to it. That level of manipulation can’t be justified by some sort of hidden overreaction on the letter writer’s part. Facepalm?

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For sure.

*****

In other advice column news, Annie Lane’s colum for tomorrow (it comes out in advance at 4:00 PM in my time zone) is a whole selection of quotes for the new year. Today’s column was also entirely written by readers (not counting where Annie Lane thanks the people for writing in). Four days ago, the whole column was quotes from Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Three days before that, she ran a column where people wrote in for what they were grateful for. The day before, she published The Night Before Christmas without mentioning who authored it. Two days before that, she ran a reader-written PSA about wearing pyjamas on Christmas. (You can’t make this stuff up.) The day before that, another reader wrote a PSA about what to say versus what not to say to the grieving.

So, I had a theory that maybe her contract ended at the end of this year, but that theory just got blown to smithereens by her publishing tomorrow’s column earlier this afternoon (on new year’s eve). Darn it all! But since my theory was wrong, I really have to wonder what she’s still doing it for. We all have things we’re not talented at. I’m certainly not going to sit here and pretend that doesn’t apply to me. Oh well.

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