How do I deal with the aftermath of this weird lie?
January 11, 2013 2:29 PM   Subscribe

My husband lied to me in a multi-part, well crafted way, about something stupid. I'm not sure if I'm being unreasonable, and I don't know where to go from here.

To get this out of the way up front, this isn't about infidelity.

Backstory: Joe and I have been married for 20 years & have a child. We have a great relationship, with the occasional difference of opinion and even a rare fight, but never bicker. We treat each other with kindness. We love each other.

When we met we were both very casual pot smokers but I quit many years ago. Joe kept smoking about 1x weekly. About two years, after I successfully quit cigarettes, he told me he'd like to quit smoking pot. I expressed my support. He did quit.

We have some good friends (Will & Kat) who recently moved almost an hour away. We helped them move, and their new house had a problem that Joe offered to help fix. One Saturday Joe got a call & took the call into our office. He came out & said it was Will and he really needed help with the aforementioned problem. Joe seemed slightly annoyed & told me he didn't really want to drive all the way over there right then, but he reluctantly left to help.

He texted me barely over an hour later to say he was leaving. I responded, "wow, you're fast!" He called & told me how he fixed the problem, with a good amount of detail.

About a week later, I was paying bills online out of our joint account and I noticed a $100 cash withdrawal from a city about 45 minutes away, that neither of us has been to recently. I freaked because we recently experienced identity theft & had finally gotten everything cleared up. Joe explained that he had been working in that city & had to purchase some items at a place that doesn't take credit cards (he has a company card). He said he forgot to tell me, but he had receipts and would get reimbursed.

The next weekend, Kat invited me for pedicures & she & I stopped by their house. The problem was not fixed. I mentioned it, and thank god I didn't humiliate myself further by saying "Joe told me he fixed that!" Kat said, "Oh, Will's been meaning to call Joe but hasn't gotten around to it!"

I drove home in a daze and confronted him, thinking the worst (affair, hookers.) Well, he told me everything. Instead of helping Will, he was buying pot. He showed me the pot, some texts, & other stuff as proof, since I thought he was cheating. Everything makes sense, except the fact that he lied in the first place! I do not care whatsoever if he smokes! Really! I do care about all those lies, though, & he can't explain to me why he lied. He keeps saying "I don't know."

He seems very dispassionate and robotic when he apologizes. He lied so easily. I'm shocked. I 100% believed in his "reluctance" to "go to Will's". He looked in my eyes, smiled, and lied about the cash withdrawal with total conviction. I never would have believed he was capable of this, and I'm crushed.

Where do I go from here? Divorce seems insane. Therapy seems like overkill for this one-time thing. I waver between thinking that I'm overreacting and thinking that it's a relationship deal breaker. I feel so utterly disrespected, betrayed, and disgusted. It's been a month and I'm as confused as ever. I just don't think, "I'm sorry, I don't know" is enough to fix this betrayal.

Am I overreacting? What should I do? What's the next step?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (48 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Therapy seems like overkill for this one-time thing.

How do you know this is a one-time thing?

Couple's therapy might be overkill but if he truly doesn't know why he felt compelled to lie to you, individual therapy for him might be extremely helpful.
posted by muddgirl at 2:38 PM on January 11, 2013 [9 favorites]

Why don't you ask him what his motivation was for lying?
posted by Lobster Garden at 2:38 PM on January 11, 2013

Ugh, sorry, I missed that you'd already asked. Therapy sounds appropriate in this case.
posted by Lobster Garden at 2:40 PM on January 11, 2013

Therapy seems like overkill for this one-time thing.

Not to me. Besides, part of the trouble with lies is that you can't tell whether the one you discovered was a one-time thing.

On preview, what muddgirl wrote.
posted by jon1270 at 2:40 PM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

Sounds like he thought you'd be disappointed in him. To some people, that's embarrassing enough to say that he doesn't know why he lied. That doesn't make it ok, of course. But if he's never done anything like this before, I'd say move past it. So somewhere between "overreacting" and "dealbreaker". I think it's totally ok to make a few couple's therapy appointments to talk about it. There are very few problems (ones that leave one party "disrespected, betrayed, and disgusted", anyway) for which a few appointments are overkill.
posted by supercres at 2:41 PM on January 11, 2013 [26 favorites]

Why don't you ask him what his motivation was for lying?

It sounds like the OP did: he can't explain to me why he lied. He keeps saying "I don't know."

posted by cairdeas at 2:41 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

No, you're not overreacting, but the important thing here is to figure out why he did this. "I don't know" is not going to cut it. I'm assuming this is not a theme in your marriage or you would have picked up on it before 20 years had passed by.

Therefore I suspect there is more to the story in some way. Either he has been smoking pot for quite some time, thought you would disapprove of it and that it was a "white lie" not to tell you because you wouldn't care that much, but now it's developed into more of a problem.... or he's been lying about other small things and is getting into bigger lies now (I doubt this because this doesn't seem like the sort of thing another person just starts doing all of a sudden, it's a habit or a personality thing).... or he has some other problem in his life that you don't know about and he is using the pot to self medicate with.

I'm most suspicious of the latter. I don't think he's hiding a cancer diagnosis or something, maybe there's just something stressful at work or with a friend or family member or something? Something financial? Whatever it is, I think you need to get to counseling stat to try to get to the bottom of it. I fear there is something seriously going on with him, a lot more than smoking pot, that you need to know about - and if there isn't, you'll still need the therapy to restore trust in the relationship.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:41 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Sometimes people make mistakes and exhibit temporary bad judgement that doesn't reflect their overall nature. Is that a possibility in this case?
posted by Dansaman at 2:42 PM on January 11, 2013 [9 favorites]

Just pointing out - he wasn't just walking down the street in the city and someone offered to sell him some weed and so he spur of the moment picked it up, or he just got it from a friend or whatever.... he got a phone call from someone and then he drove 45 minutes away to go buy the pot. There was clearly forethought, and he had to know this drug dealer ahead of time for this to happen.

These facts do not support the 'one time thing/bad judgment' hypothesis.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:45 PM on January 11, 2013 [31 favorites]

Yeah, I don't think you are overreacting, either. But going to therapy isn't an overreaction; it's a totally healthy, normal thing to do when you need help dealing with emotions, and even more helpful in mediating these issues between two people. I've scheduled appointments for lesser offenses than this, but then again my husband and I have a joint marriage counselor "on retainer." She keeps us in check, even if it's us thinking "what would Nora tell us to do?"

Go to therapy with your husband. Best of luck!
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:47 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Since it's been a month and you are still as confused as ever and he has not been able to explain what is/was really going on, you two do need outside help. Get that help!
posted by travelwithcats at 2:49 PM on January 11, 2013

Could be a shame spiral. He sounds like he's embarrassed and making shit up to cover for it, which makes it worse, rinse, repeat. I had a "recovering" alcoholic friend in university who had similar behaviour when confronted.

Unfortunately these things can be recurring if there's a root stressor that's not being dealt with.
posted by bonehead at 2:50 PM on January 11, 2013 [30 favorites]

It sounds like the deception could've been a mechanism for avoiding the embarrassment and failure he would've felt if he'd admitted that he was buying weed even though he'd already quit.

Even moreso because he would've been admitting it to you, and you were present for and played a role in his original quitting, by providing an example (successfully quitting cigarettes) and support.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:06 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm not sure why he lied to you, and it's entirely possible the he doesn't (consciously) know either. One thing that strikes me is that it's a really BAD lie, one that you were going to uncover pretty much immediately (by seeing or hearing about the still-unfixed thing). This points more toward a spur of the moment thing, motivated by embarrassment or simply convenience (not having the time to explain/discuss the unusual thing he was about to do). Unless this happens again, I would be tempted to accept it as "that dumb lie you told me once" and move on.
posted by birch effect at 3:25 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could just go to therapy with the intention of doing two or three sessions to unpack this bizarre occurrence in a mediated environment.

But I am on team "this is a super elaborate lie, and lies that elaborate rarely travel alone". I mean, he acted out a charade about going to Will and Kat's AND lied about why he took $100 out of the ATM in the other city. That's a lot. That's not just a spur of the moment prevarication.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:58 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

He could just be embarrassed or, I do this sometimes, I just want something to be mine. Like my little secret. I don't want a mistress or a second family, I just want to keep the fact that I went to the coffee shop/bar/bought a video game a secret. Even if my SO wouldn't be mad! Its insane.

Doesn't sound like a huge deal, just ask him to be honest. Make it clear that lying was way more trouble than the truth.
posted by GilloD at 3:58 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Maybe he proved to you he bought pot then, but did he prove to you that he didn't also do something else? His lying and bad-apology smacks doing something bad then selectively revealing something he knew you'd forgive gratefully.
posted by fleacircus at 4:03 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

If he can't answer the question "why did you lie" with anything but "I don't know" then he is either still lying or very, very not in touch with his own feelings.

I think therapy is recommended. Not because this is a bad thing, but that it could lead to bad things or just lead to marital discomfort. There is a disconnect somewhere, and it's a good idea to work that out somehow.
posted by gjc at 4:05 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

nthing therapy and that you're not overreacting. The combo of such an elaborate lie and that he won't/can't explain it could be a red flag.

I had a sort of similar experience with my ex - though your relationship sounds MUCH better than ours ever really was! He wanted to quit smoking (cigarettes), I tried to be supportive of HIS choice, then when he started again he hid it from me, and regularly lied and developed weird personal habits to facilitate the habit. I discovered his lies a couple of times and got mad (because hey, he was lying to me) but he never came completely clean until we were about to get a divorce. It was super weird to me because I didn't really care whether he smoked or not, what I cared about is that he lied to me - and I was very clear about this distinction (but he never seemed to get it).

Anyway, I guess he handled it this way because of a combination of shame (which snowballed, the longer he kept it secret) and pathological conflict avoidance. He couldn't handle even the possibility of conflict, so it felt 'safer' for him to lie. He was also pretty passive aggressive so this might have been a way to feel in control, heck, I don't know.

But no single incident was a "big" deal, but the whole package definitely was. IF we had had a better relationship, then I think some therapy could have helped unpack the weirdness before it got out of hand.
posted by pennypiper at 4:06 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing you're not over-reacting, and Nthing, it seems unlikely this is his one and only big lie. I think if that were the case, you'd be seeing some groveling. He seems to think it's somehow justified, or at least, be kind of incurious and not forthcoming about the reasons. It seems quite clear this wouldn't have been that big a deal to you. Even if he were embarrassed, being a grown man and lying to your spouse like a ten-year-old is more embarrassing than finding yourself craving pot.

I would be wondering why he thinks this isn't a big deal. If your relationship is otherwise really good, and this is totally out of character--is there anything else that's gone weird about him lately? Because it just doesn't seem isolated. Lying like you're describing is hard work.

He seems very dispassionate and robotic when he apologizes.

Again: is he fully okay physically and mentally?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:08 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

People lie all the time. Mostly they call it hedging their bets, or fudging the issue. Still, concealing motives and actions is part and parcel of human behavior. It's just a matter of degree. Knowing where that lie turns into harm, deceit or real idiocy is the nature of trust, meaning you trust your hubby to not lie about things that have the potential to be harmful in some way or any way. Now in terms of something of this nature, the mind's an amazing thing. For all you know, your hubby has been cooking up some elaborate mental process around getting stoned and feeling guilt, shame, concealment and skullduggery as part of the process. He may not actually know why this turned out the way it did, or the emotional stress is causing him to freeze up so he really can't talk much. He's just hoping the negative emotional turmoil will go away so he can reboot. I wouldn't discount the role of self-talk that leads to this behavior before calling in the therapist hit squad.
posted by diode at 4:08 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I just want to keep the fact that I went to the coffee shop/bar/bought a video game a secret.

I think the dynamic changes when your secret me-time involves doing something illegal.
posted by fleacircus at 4:21 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Lying like you're describing is hard work."

Not for everyone, it isn't. I thought so too, until I grew up, and got to know my dad, and eventually met others similar to him. I agree with the above about the shame spiral. It doesn't necessarily matter if you wouldn't have flipped out on him; if it's something he feels (any) shame about, he may feel compelled to lie about it. Perhaps he feels like smoking pot is innately shameful, and despite the two of you doing it together in the past, he is embarrassed about breaking his resolution to quit. Perhaps he grew up with parents that he habitually hid things from (like the pot?) or had a previous relationship in which he did... after 20 years, yeah it seems like a long shot, but I think those type of things tend to stick in your personality. And I also agree that it's likely not the first lie, especially if he's so obviously good at it.

To be honest, count me as someone who doesn't think it was necessarily premeditated. The $100 from the joint account in the other city, for example, is a pretty lousy lie. If he planned it in advance, he would have got the cash in your own town and had a better alibi. I think it more likely that he's just a very practiced off-the-cuff liar. And I agree, that is an extremely disturbing thing to learn about your significant other. (Trust me, I live with one. We're in therapy.)

Which brings me to my final point: therapy. Yes, this is something you should talk to a counselor about. The fact is, whether it's a one-timer or a longstanding secret, he's a skilled and practiced liar, and that is something I would want to look into. And the shame spiral (if you think that rings true at all) is also something he should be dealing with.

But I definitely don't think you're overreacting.
posted by celtalitha at 4:25 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

P.S. The people who are saying it was obviously premeditated, have perhaps not lived with someone who is very, very used to making shit up. It seems to be one of those skills that stick with you, like riding a bike, you know, but a lot more hurtful...

People who have experience making shit up on the fly can do this EASILY. More than easily. They will add story to story, and when part of their slapped-together story doesn't add up, they add more, with great flair and gusto even. They tend to be good enough at it that they don't expect to get called out or questioned, and only confess when backed into a corner so obvious it's ridiculous. Sometimes not even then.

Has he ever done this with other people? With bosses? With distant friends? If so, there's your answer. The fact that you thought him incapable of doing it to YOU is irrelevant to the skill itself.
posted by celtalitha at 4:32 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

In my marriage, and it seems in yours, it seems like the spouse is the "keeper" of your better self. He wants to be the person he *wants* to be in your eyes. He doesn't want to be the person who fails in his own self-stated goals (no longer smoking pot). I would let the lying issue go completely. I would want to forgive him, if he genuinely apologized.

It's hard not knowing the whole context. Does he usually sound "robotic" when he apologizes? Sometimes people who are 100% sincere have a harder time coming across as authentic during apologies than people who are practiced deceivers. It sounds like he was deeply embarrassed and uncomfortable.

It's weird, I can tell that you are very upset with him as you have said you are, but they way you actually describe his actions make me feel pretty sympathetic toward him. My advise: embrace him. Tell him you love him whether he smokes pot or not. Tell him if he wants to try to quit again you will support him in that effort. Tell him if he is struggling with anything, you want to be the first person he tells about it, rather than having him struggle and try to figure it out on his own.

Totally crazy idea: offer to smoke it with him, just for fun. Sounds like you used to. If you think it would be possible to enjoy it again, it might be a fun bonding experience.
posted by tk at 4:45 PM on January 11, 2013 [8 favorites]

If it's "not hard work" for him to tell elaborate lies like that, then they need couples therapy even more!
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:59 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

He lied so easily. I'm shocked. I 100% believed in his "reluctance" to "go to Will's". He looked in my eyes, smiled, and lied about the cash withdrawal with total conviction. I never would have believed he was capable of this, and I'm crushed.

I don't feel you're wrong to be concerned. But it sounds like what is most emotionally troubling for you is your husband's skill as a liar, and so it may alleviate your distress somewhat if you can contemplate this skill without visceral horror. A true story:

About 10 months ago I told several lies similar to your husband's, complete with phone call and feigned reluctance, and successfully deceived my wife. Everyone tells me I'm a bad liar (including the friends who overheard me making a subsequent lying phone call to her), but I've always managed to deceive her when it counts. She later found out the truth from our friends, and was disconcerted by my unexpected talent, especially since, like you and your husband, we've been together for twenty years.

But it hasn't damaged our marriage, according to mrs_goldfish. Probably because I was lying to cover arrangements for her surprise 40th birthday party.

If you don't think my wife should be re-evaluating our marriage, then perhaps that will help you regard your husband's unexpected talent as a mere fact: a clue warranting concern when combined with other factors, but not some evil sociopathic essence.
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:00 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think (or at least hope) that he lied because he was embarrassed about not quitting. However, I would be very upset, too, to discover that my partner had gone to that trouble, especially over something that doesn't matter to me. But I'm not reading the horrible spiral/web of shittiness from your question that others are, nor do I think this is an absolutely "YES TO THERAPY WITH YOU" situation. Maybe I'm optimistic.

I think it might help you to think about what would help the two of you move past this. If you want to go to therapy, that's fine. If he has a history of lying to other people, or his behavior has been or is shady in the future, or if you just plain have a hard time trusting him after this, then therapy might be good for both of you. I think that depends much more on factors between you and him than what strangers think from the outside.
posted by sm1tten at 5:09 PM on January 11, 2013

It's not good when there is lying about drugs. Even if the drug is just pot. That lying indicates that he doesn't feel great about what he's doing, and that kind of attitude is going to cause problems in the long run, if they aren't already there. I know it's hard to not be angry - believe me, I have been there, and felt the anger - but I would really try to approach this from an angle of concern. He probably does have something going on inside that he needs help with.
posted by something something at 5:14 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a good enough liar that I'm good at pretending to be a bad liar. I do so because I don't want to be a good liar; it's not an admirable skill. But when I am trying to lie well, I'm very convincing. I don't exactly do it deliberately in that it's not premeditated, and I am learning not to do it, but sometimes it happens accidentally, on autopilot, unexpected and elaborate enough to be convincing. It's just really easy to make some convincing thing up at the moment. I've always had an active imagination.

I'm a people pleaser and I grew up in a situation where dishonesty/ manipulating the truth was often neccessary. Or even endorsed. (My mom would often discourage honesty).

Sometimes I lie by accident because I'm so wrapped up in trying to please the person in front of me that I actually kind of forget the truth, or because it's just easier to lie, or because there's something that i want to be true and i haven't faced the reality yet. It's not that I have malicious intentions, and I make a point of being honest about most "big" things, but sometimes I slip up. Some of us are just naturally good liars, like some are naturally good fighters. It doesn't necessarily mean that we want to be bad people.

Therapy is helping me. Therapy will probably help him.
posted by windykites at 5:36 PM on January 11, 2013 [13 favorites]

This is a major non-event. He is embarrassed about the whole starting to smoke pot again thing. You need to discuss this with him in the context of better communication.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:37 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

Somethings not adding up here.

Joe put a lot of thought into his cover story, and presumably knew he was getting a phone call about something he wanted to discuss in his office -- supposedly, about buying some pot. If that was what the call was concerning, he must have initiated some sort of action to receive that call before that point.

Joe expects you to believe he planned all this and yet did not plan ahead that he would need to bring cash with him.

If he knew he was going to need cash, he could have gotten cash before that day or stopped at an ATM near where you live. Maybe he had some other plan when he left. That he showed you some pot does not prove he used this money for that or got the pot in that city or on that day.

You should be able to tell what day the ATM withdrawal was, and the time. Was it on that day? Was Joe even working on the day he told you the first story?
posted by yohko at 5:48 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is a major non-event. He is embarrassed about the whole starting to smoke pot again thing. You need to discuss this with him in the context of better communication.

x 1000 (happens to me)
posted by mattoxic at 5:50 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

If he knew he was going to need cash, he could have gotten cash before that day or stopped at an ATM near where you live. Maybe he had some other plan when he left. That he showed you some pot does not prove he used this money for that or got the pot in that city or on that day.

Oh, that's just silly. Dude was flailing and overexplaining because he knew he was caught in a lie that he did not expect to be caught in.

OP, my husband had, in the past, a tendency to white lie about things like sneaking cigarettes, because there wasn't a lot of trust in his family and he feared my reaction. The more that I've worked to downplay my emotional reactions to the lie and to calmly discuss issues, the more the white lies have abated. Talk to him about it again, but stay cool and not sulky or emotional. Tell him, calmly, that it's fine if he wants to smoke, just don't get all sneaky about it because it's bad for trust. Show him that the entire thing is fine and I promise he won't go all sneaky stupid about it in the future.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:55 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

He is ashamed. And shame is a powerful negative emotion. It shuts me down when I experience it. To be sure this is not a trivial thing, but neither is it really an indicator of anything beyond your husband feeling like he has significantly failed, even if you tell him it is ok to smoke pot. I don't know if you guys need therapy... and really no one hear does either. It is not an overreaction to consider the idea, but it is also quite possible he will see it as a furtherance of his failures.
posted by edgeways at 6:04 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

If this were a story about lying about pot, I could understand this. Thing is, I bet you could, too.

The fact that you're still confused about this after a month suggests to me that you think there's more to it than that. Is that what you think?

I really don't know if this is a case of oops! a dieter hiding the donut behind his back! did he think you wouldn't find out? I imagine it's nearer on the scale to that than a Lifetime "My Husband's Secret Identity Our Life Was Built Upon LIES!!!" movie. But that's not the point. The point is you're still freaked out about this after a month.

Maybe what freaks you out is that he tried to give up pot and didn't manage it. That's just a little bit of the addict there. But I don't know. By that argument, I must also be addicted to soda since I drank an illicit one on Monday after several months on the wagon.

Therefore, it probably is a good idea to have a couple of counseling sessions to figure this out. You are still freaked out after a month. That's worth something.

p.s. FWIW, I've known secret-evil-twin-type dissemblers and this story doesn't remind me of one.
posted by tel3path at 6:11 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like windykites (and due to what sounds like a similar background) I'm a good liar. It's a defense mechanism, as others have pointed out, and one I mostly don't use any more.

I obviously can't speak to whether your husband had his whole story planned ahead of time or the lies just popped out (it happens; even elaborate ones like telling you all about fixing the thing he didn't fix), or what his deeper motivations may have been. What I can tell you is that as a Good Liar of many years' duration, your husband sounds like a Good Liar.

This could mean nothing - even a Good Liar who mostly doesn't lie any more can have a one-off. The part that concerns me is his "I dunno" response. It sounds like a child's answer to being caught in a lie and not very self-aware (see also: me before lots of therapy). And if he really is that clueless about his own motivation to do something that came so easily to him and isn't just stonewalling you, probably he could use some help.

More importantly, YOU could use some help. You're not getting any answers from him and this is still bothering you, so I vote for taking care of you and finding a professional to talk to about how you're feeling.
posted by camyram at 6:28 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

So... You live in a state where marijuana is illegal, and your only concern here is that he lied?

I'd be on nuclear about the fact that my husband might have gotten himself arrested, and I'm someone who used to have a medical marijuana card!

Risky risk taking is not worth it! Is that maybe part of what you are freaked about?

Yeah. Therapy.
posted by jbenben at 6:52 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing therapy. Well, unless you two can have a heart-to-heart on this and clear the air without someone else guiding you.
posted by luckynerd at 7:37 PM on January 11, 2013

he didn't want you to find out he'd been smoking pot let alone spending $100 on it. maybe he thought you'd be angry or judge him. there are some crazy ass reactions on here especially since you've said the pot smoking is not the issue.

in all honesty, you should say everything you've said on here to him. that's what love is and that's how relationships work. just say, "you know, i don't care that you're smoking pot but it does bother me that you lied to me about it." let him know how the lie made you feel. don't turn it into a "you did this" situation. just be honest and express that you had assumed he was always honest with you and that you wish he would be from now on. say out loud "when you did this, it made me feel like this." imagine what you would want out of a conversation and then have that conversation. be in charge of your emotions and don't let it get derailed into other side issues. if either one of you tries to shift focus to another issue or bring up non-related issues just say or remind yourself "we're not talking about that right now. that's a conversation for another time. " and really, just say what you've said above.

don't let people on here goad you into some crazy drama.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 10:22 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

i experienced something similar. I heard lies in layers and had a sense they were lies, but I believed them and later found out they were indeed lies. All you can do is try to forgive him if he is genuinely sorry and get additional support elsewhere if he is not capable of talking it through with you. I understand the deep hurt and feelings of betrayal. I could not talk about with my partner because it made him feel worse and started a cycle of guilt and blame, so I went to get help elsewhere. It is mostly resolved, but the memory comes up at times. You and he will have to deal with that in positive ways until it dissipates with time and positive actions. There is always a root cause and that is something you have to be willing to listen to. I understand your pain, but it will get better. If you want to move past this, you have to be willing to trust that he won't lie again and he has to prove it with his actions.
posted by i_wear_boots at 10:24 PM on January 11, 2013

I read the whole thread and my gut says "shame spiral," "this is a major non-event," and "but why not go to therapy?" I'm just commenting to add two long-shot questions:
- This ... identity theft? Definitely identity theft, right??
- Your strong reaction, could it stem from anything in your background? (Not that I think it's unusual to be freaked out when the person you trust is lying elaborately. But someone with an unreliable parent would be SUPER freaked out, so it's worth knowing which you are.)

In your shoes, I'd start with individual therapy to figure out what my reaction was about (you seem on-the-fence about whether you think this is a big deal or not), then decide with that person whether to go to couples therapy. But I'm a fan of therapy, so I'm biased. Starting with an individual counselor would also mean (s)he would be a resource for you if you find out there were more lies.

What bothers me about this story is that he could say "I don't know." I mean, that just seems like a big gap in emotional self-knowledge. Yet you don't (seem to?) identify that as a big red flag to you. I'm not sure what to make of this.

In terms of your long-term relationship with yourself, it's a lot better to trust your gut and be wrong than to overrule your gut and have been right.
posted by salvia at 12:15 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Counseling. You can't believe a liar.

Okay, let's say that you are a frontline nag about him smoking pot: really on his ass about it, so he hid it from you. No? Then his little elaborations are not white lies. They reflect a major disconnect between you and him. This doesn't mean your marriage is over, but you may want to know who this guy really is. Or, back to my first speculation: who you really are.

My inclination is to take your post at face value, but it's obvious that you need to find the gorilla in the room, and figure out what he's doing there.
posted by mule98J at 9:06 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't know what to do, but I don't think you are overreacting. How can you be in a relationship where you don't trust the person? He didn't lie once, he lied repeatedly and without good reason. I personally would wonder what else he was lying about since you knew he smoked pot and weren't bothered by it. If he can't express some sort of reason for him feeling the need to hide his behavior, that's strange to me. No judgement on pot smoking, it just seems like maybe there's more going on here.

To people speaking for the boyfriend saying, "Oh he feels ashamed he couldn't quit smoking," I still find it odd he couldn't admit he was ashamed to his wife, even after getting caught, let alone just admit he was having trouble quitting pot. (I have been there. It can be hard to quit pot when you count on it to unwind. I don't think weedheads sell their couches for a fix, so I'd caution against throwing the word "addict" around, but that's neither here nor there.) Plot twist question: Could it possibly be a harder drug he's into now?
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:54 PM on January 12, 2013

he can't explain to me why he lied. He keeps saying "I don't know."

Ah man, this is just a feeling that I have but...

Here he is giving you a frustrating response that doesn't make any sense at all. And, it's certainly possible that he just has some kind of extreme, freakish and total lack of self-awareness.

But, I have a feeling it's not that. It took me a long long time to realize this in my own life, but often, when people have done this in my life, it's often because they WANT me to be frustrated and keep thinking about how what they say does not make sense. They WANT me to be suspicious of them.

Sometimes it has been that the person is getting off on my confusion and pain, or resents me and is getting back at me in this way. Other times, it has been that the person just wants the relief of whatever they are doing to come out. Maybe they just don't have the guts to let it out themselves. Or, they want it to come out but in a way that you are somehow also the bad guy (like they can be mad that you invaded their privacy, etc.)

My feeling is that your husband is refusing to say anything that would set your mind more at ease and give you a feeling that you understand what happened, because he doesn't WANT you to feel that way. I have a feeling he wants you to stay suspicious.

Out of the two things it has usually been when it happens to me (the person resents me and is needling me vs. the person wants me to find out what they have been up to) my guess is that here in your situation it is the second one. I think it may be that your husband wants you to find other lies. I think it may be that he doesn't want you to feel as if this little pot situation has been put to rest; to me, it seems like he actually wants you to keep digging.
posted by cairdeas at 9:58 AM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

And by the way, that's not to say you necessarily *should* keep digging. Because that can be stressful and upsetting to the extreme. If, IF that is what's going on, you don't have to participate in the game.
posted by cairdeas at 10:02 AM on January 13, 2013

Joe put a lot of thought into his cover story

So much thought that it was easily scuppered by talking to either half of the couple OP hangs out with on a regular basis? No.

It wasn't well thought out. He got a phone call saying he needed to come now...maybe the phone call itself was he made up a weak story on the fly to get out the door, then on the way to meet the dealer, realized what a stupid shitty lie he had made up and was embarrassed about the lie and the stupid reason for it, so he spent the drive thinking out all the details he would tell the OP to make the story seem legit. Why did he do this? Because he was afraid of the embarrassment that would accompany the truth. But in all his anxiety about lying, getting caught, and buying drugs, it didn't dawn on him that, again, OP would likely visit the friends' house and see it was all bullshit.

Put me squarely in the Shame column. He made a stupid choice, actually a series of stupid choices. He's embarrassed about falling off the pot wagon. He's embarrassed about the idiotic lie he made up. He may not understand the shame he feels. Is there a worse thing to dwell on in our lives then feeling ashamed? When you ask why and he says "I don't know...", he might instead be saying, "oh god, you're reminding me of one of the stupidest things I've ever done. I really don't like dwelling on it, can we move on please?"

I'm not saying what you're feeling isn't legitimate. Even if he doesn't want to confront it, you clearly need to do some processing...

OP, read what the people-pleasers who have commented here have said. Is your husband a people-pleaser? Try to create a safe space for him. Like I said, he probably hates thinking about it. Remind him that you don't care if he's imperfect, that you love him and his flaws. You don't need him to quit, and don't think less of him for continuing to smoke pot. Remember the two key drivers of his actions during and after the incident: anxiety and shame. I'm not saying you should let it be and bottle up what you're feeling. I'm just saying remember to use empathy when trying to engage him on the subject.

Therapy (individual for you, and joint for the two of you) might be helpful.

Also, OP doesn't seem to have a problem with using pot, regardless of the legality, so maybe stop projecting issues about lying to cover up "an illegal act" onto her?
posted by dry white toast at 12:25 PM on January 14, 2013

There are many possibilities but I think cairdeas has it.

You are not a nag or a snoop, but his actions seem calculated to make you appear to turn into one. To what end, I don't know.

When people do really inexplicable things that are too x to be P and too y to be not-P, it's usually been because they were trying to manipulate my attention and my consequent actions.
posted by tel3path at 8:52 PM on January 15, 2013

« Older How do I promote my new podcast?   |   Which way past this impasse? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.