What to do when your spouse is (suddenly) lying. How to confront them (2022)

What to do when your partner or spouse is a compulsive or pathological liar

You’ve landed here looking for information about why your spouse is lying all the time. I suspect you’re feeling angry, frustrated, worried and baffled. I’m so glad you’ve found me!

Naturally, you want to know what’s happening, no matter if they’ve suddenly started lying or they’re pathological liars. Perhaps your spouse isa compulsiveliar – unable to exist without bending the truth, telling stories and constantly making things up!

I understand you’re worried about what their repeated lies might mean for your relationship.

Naturally, you want to get a handle on what’s happening.

As human beings, our brain doesn’t take easily to ‘not knowing’ – it compels us to continue to search for answers and fill in the blanks.

My aim, therefore, is to help you gain some clarity.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • Links to 4 articles about signs all is not well
  • ‘Ordinary’ or pathological lies?
  • 3 common reasons your spouse is suddenly lying
  • 7 unusual reasons they’re lying
  • 3 reasons they’re always lying
  • What to do when your spouse or partner lies to you.
  • When to leave a lying spouse.

Let’s start with the signs of lying, just in case you’ve begun questioning your sanity.

The signs your partner or spouse is lying

I wouldn’t be surprised if you feel you’re going crazy when your husband, wife or partner keeps ly all the time – insisting they’re telling the truth, telling stories, hiding things and then blaming you.

So, what are the signs your spouse or partner is lying?

You’ll discover all of them in the following articles:

  1. The signs of infidelity
  2. The signs your spouse is lying about money
  3. Body language signs
  4. Signs they may be planning to leave you.

Let’s look at the type of lies they might be telling.

Only by first understanding what’s going on can we figure out what to do when your spouse or partner lies to you.

What to do when your spouse is (suddenly) lying. How to confront them (1)

Difference between ‘ordinary’ lying and compulsive or ‘pathological’ lying

To help you get a grip on what’s going on, let’s divide lying into five variants:

  1. White lies
  2. The sudden, puzzling onset of a series of lies
  3. The constant lies of a habitual liar
  4. The pathological, compulsive lies of most likely someone who purports to be a hero or victim
  5. A combination of the above

Your spouse might be bending the truth, fibbing or telling outright lies about their past, previous relationships, secret bank accounts, extramarital affairs, money, where they’ve been, who they’ve met and possibly even the most minor things.

But, we’ll start with white lies.

Is your partner or spouse only telling frequent white lies?

Of course, they are –we all lie(external link, opens in a new tab)!

If we’re honest, we can all admit that we’re guilty of having told (white) lies.

We might do it to protect ourselves, or we do it to prevent hurting someone’s feelings.

The question is – how often does your partner resort to telling a ‘white’ lie? And more relevant – have they always done that, or have you noticed it becoming bothersome more recently?

Let’s see now for what reason your spouse has suddenly started lying.

The most likely reasons your spouse hassuddenlystarted lying to you

3 most common reasons why your spouse is suddenly lying to you

Let’s look at what they might be hiding. Here are eight potential reasons why your spouse is lying to you and being secretive:

1. Your spouse is having an affair

Infidelity, they’re cheating on you – your spouse has betrayed you with another person, and since it is a secret, they naturally want to hide it from you.

They’ll lie about where they are, when to expect them back, what they’re doing and with whom.

You’ll need to get some strong evidence before confronting them because they’ll likely deny it.

To get clued up, hop over to my article on the signs of cheating. You’ll want to ensure you know what to look out for, what to expect and what to do.

For a ton of further information, seethe complete guide to surviving infidelity.

2. Your partner or spouse is in financial trouble

Financial secrets – they may have run up credit card debts, made purchases they don’t want you to know about, or borrowed money.

Or, perhaps they have a secret bank account where they hide money.

Hop over to my article What to do when your partner is lying about money to learn more.

3. Your partner or spouse is planning to leave you

They’re being secretive and hiding things because they plan to end the relationship or marriage. See my article on thesigns your spouse wants to leave you.

Next, let’s look at why your spousealwayslies.

Why your spouse always lies to you

4 potential reasons your spouseis lying all the time

1. You’re jealous

You don’t trust your spouse or partner even if they have nothing to hide. If they want to go out, meet friends or family, they have no other option but to lie to you.

2. Your spouse is stuck with a lie they’ve told you before

They’ve lied about something and now don’t know how to get out of it. Perhaps they’ve lied about their past, health, ambitions, work history or anything else they can’t suddenly change. They may have told lies on their dating profile, for example.

3. Your spouse is addicted

Your partner or spouse could be addicted to online gambling, gaming, shopping or adult content. Or, they’re suffering from substance abuse.

4. Your partner is a fantasist

They’ve been full of fantasies all their life. They’re full of ideas on what and how they’ll achieve this, that or the other. They might live in a fantasy world you think is ludicrous.

You may well be in a relationship with a pathological liar – that’s why your spouse is lying all the time.

And then, there are more unusual reasons why your spouse isn’t telling you the truth.

8 less common reasons your spouse is lying

1. They don’t want what you want

They see no other choice. You’ve made a decision, and you absolutely want something your way regardless of their opinion or feelings. They see no other way out than to come up with a part-truth, half-reason, or completely fictitious reason why something is impossible.

This sort of lie probably doesn’t come from someone who is always lying.

2. They want to get out of something

Here your spouse may be telling a white lie. They might not want to do something or go somewhere, for example, to that family party or work function. Perhaps they simply don’t fancy going, or they’re unwell – physically or mentally (when they’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown, for example).

3. They want to be seen as the best

They’re showing off to get recognition and praise

common in someone with a narcissistic personality

4. They’re protecting someone else’s secret

They have promised to keep someone else’s secret confidential.

5. They’re hiding another misdemeanour

Could your partner or spouse be in trouble with the police? Have they undertaken any illegal activity, or are they in trouble at work?

6. Your spouse or partner is planning a big surprise for you!

You won’t be the first person worried sick about a partner or spouse being super secretive!

7. Your spouse has nothing to lose

They’ve already lied before, got away with it and now it’s becoming more of a habit.

8. Your spouse owes someone money

This is a really serious sign that something is amiss. Your spouse has borrowed money, unbeknown to you and is trying to pay it back. Maybe they’re even blackmailed.

Why does someone lie? Let’s look at that now.

Why does someone lie?

10 underlying factors your partner, wife or husband lies

Assuming your spouse is not a pathological liar, here’s why your spouse might be lying to you so much:

  1. Your spouse has suffered a childhood trauma – parents or carers may have been strict – at least in the eyes of the child. It may have wanted to hide its true feelings. Perhaps there was a family drama which upset them greatly, yet when they stepped out of the front door – everyone else seemed to act as if nothing was awry. The child may have found its own ‘inventive’ way of dealing with the trauma, which involved trying to make sense of its inner life and the outside world. This childlike way of coping became the norm and remained unchallenged into adulthood.
  2. Your spouse or partner feels ashamed – your spouse feels ashamed of something or even everything about themselves. They feel compelled to lie repeatedly to cover up thattoxic shame.
  3. Your spouse is a Chaotic Creative – my colleague Renee van der Vloodt first coined this phrase. Creative people often get into a trance state which disconnects them from reality (all hypnotic trance states do, and we all go in and out of trance states during the day and night). It happens automatically and leads to their often puzzling decisions, conclusions and manner of living. It mostly makes sense to them – though not always! However, they’re unable to explain it to others. Their brain’s reality simulator – the source of their creativity (which we also use for dreaming) takes precedence.
  4. Your spouse is engaging in powerplay – they’re playing mind games with you. It is asign of (emotional) abuse.
  5. Your spouse has narcissistic tendencies – they see themselves as the best in everything and have to lie to keep up any pretences.
  6. Your spouse has suffered a severe trauma – They may havePost-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Or, at least they’re experiencing subclinical symptoms and attempt to keep themselves ‘safe’ so as not to trigger any memories, panic attacks or flashbacks. They might lie to protect themselves from having to deal with other people’s feelings about their situation.
  7. Your partner or spouse has learnt from childhood that lying is a way to get what you want.
  8. Your spouse has learnt as a child that lying can prevent you from being punished.
  9. Your partner is attempting to protect and improve their status – they’resuffering from low self-esteemand will lie to make themselves look better.
  10. Your spouse is not honest with you because they’re trying to hide anaddiction. You may have heard the “I promise I’ll quit.” once too often.

The umbrella reason for lying is potentially rooted in the human givens – the meeting of some essential emotional need(s).

What if your partner or spouse is a pathological liar?

Using the following, you should be able to quickly figure out whether or not you’re dealing with a pathological liar.

4 signs of a pathological liar:

  1. They habitually lie for no reason or benefit at all.
  2. They tell the most fantastical, complicated and detailed stories.
  3. They often feature in those stories as the hero or the victim – you’re probably well aware of the dramas splayed all over some people’s Facebook account for maximum effect in terms of sympathy or admiration.
  4. To some extent – they’ve lost the connection between what’s real and what’s a lie – they believe their own lies.

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In many ways, that pathological lying fulfils one of the most essential inborn human needs – the need for attention!

You can see how it’s nearly impossible to build a healthy relationship with someone who lies compulsively.

What to do when your partner’s lying

There’s no doubt that mutual trust is an essential component of a healthy relationship. Constant lying and lies about a major misdemeanour have a detrimental effect on a relationship because they destroy all trust.

So, here’s what to do when your partner or spouse is lying to you.

Step 1 – gather evidence

Gather evidence and keep notes with dates, times and what they said. Evidence will help confirm your suspicions and prevent you from thinking you’re going crazy.

According to a recent study, you can even tell if someone is lyingfrom the sound of their voice.

Consider which type of lying is the main problem.

However, know that only your spouse can decide to change their behaviour. Pressure from you won’t make the slightest bit of difference. It may even make it worse.

Step 2 – confront your lying spouse or partner

Confront your spouse with your findings, but be prepared to be wrong, too – you may have misinterpreted your discoveries.

Avoid any finger-pointing,arguing, shaming and name-calling.

  • First, confront them with the evidence – just the facts.
  • Then state only how you feel about it – sad, confused, angry, hurt, etc. and how it affects your relationship – you’ve lost trust, their lies have destroyed your sense of security, etc.
  • Give them the time to respond.
  • Next, tell them the consequences: you want to hear the truth because more lies could irreparably damage the relationship, you see no future together, the kids don’t trust them anymore, etc.
  • Lastly, if they’ve admitted their lies, ask if and how they think to help save the relationship.

Step 3 – rebuilt trust to repair your relationship

To have any hope offixing your relationship, you need to find the underlying reason for the lies.

Encourage your spouse to talk about what’s happening for them, if at all possible.

Remember, though, that you can’tmakethem do anything!

It’stheirchoice andtheirresponsibility to change their behaviour.

It’s your responsibility to not nag – instead, to turn your complaints into wishes: “It would really help me if….. I’d love it if you could/are prepared to…. “Etc.

You’ll need to practice patience and use the best of your communication skills to help them dig deep, keep talking, make the odd mistake, catch themselves telling a lie and allow them to fall and try again.

You’ll need to figure out if such a ‘mistake’ is just the odd slip – part of the learning curve – or a return to the old pattern of lying.

I encourage you to question also what your role in the problem could be.Notthat your spouse’s lying is your fault, of course, but simply ask yourself to what extent you might have played a part, have let it continue, have been jealous or controlling. There’s no need to judge or blame yourself – it’s about learning from your own mistakes.

Looking after yourself when dealing with a dishonest spouse

Discovering your spouse has been lying all the time can feel like a punch in the stomach! It might feel as if your relationship isn’t anymore – you’ve lost something precious.

Living with a spouse who is always lying is tiresome.

Therefore, it’s important you look after yourself.

The better you feel within yourself, the more ‘spare capacity’ you have to deal withissues in your relationship.

Here are five tips to help you cope when you’ve discovered your partner or husband has been lying to you, and you’re feeling low:

  1. Value yourself – nurture your body and mind. Healthy foods and plenty of physical exercise help your body and mind function best. And, if you need a little help with that, I highly recommend you use some self-hypnosis – it’s easy with a professionally produced audio download. See my pageHypnosis FAQ and downloads.
  2. Set boundaries with your lying spouse – decide what and what not you find acceptable, what you can live with. Consider thereby also how truthfulyouare. Strive to be the best version of yourself.
  3. Stay connected socially – connect off- and online withrealfriends. A good friend can listen without judging you, will be honest and can support you in this challenging time.
  4. Get help from an online relationship coach who can support you and help you decide on your next step. For further information, see my article ononline relationship counselling.

Here’s a free worksheet to help you take care of yourself…

Free printable worksheet

When to leave a lying spouse

Should you end your relationship or divorce a spouse who always lies?

I completely understand if you feel you can no longer trust your spouse. However, if they respond positively to the confrontation (it can be a relief for a liar to have been discovered), you can expect that trust to grow again over time.

After the confrontation, you’d want to see an improvement in how the two of you are getting on.

Are you seeing no improvement after a month or three?

Then it may be the two of you are no longer compatible. I recommend you take myRelationship Compatibility Testand consider if your relationship ormarriage is worth saving.


The discovery that your spouse has been dishonest, lied to you and betrayed your trust might have happened on top of any existing relationship problem (link).

At least you now know what to do when your partner or spouse is lying all the time and when to leave.

Know that you’re far more resourceful and stronger than you possibly give yourself credit for. You’ve got this!

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