So, I got a few more great questions today. I have not been able to do much real thinking because of all the swirling thoughts. However, I’m going to attempt to answer a few of the simpler ones – mostly to occupy my brain and fingers until I get tired enough to actually fall asleep.
Is your husband capable of being honest—does he even know how? That is the fundamental question. He may want to be honest and he may hate himself for his lies, but if he doesn’t know how, is that something he is capable of learning? Is it really a choice he can make?
That IS the fundamental question. I’m not sure I know the answer. I would like to think he is capable, but if I really examine that I can see it is magical thinking – I want it to be that way, so I convince myself it is. Truly, there is not much evidence to prove that he is actually capable of being truthful and fully honest.
Whether or not he can LEARN honesty – overwrite his old behaviors, replace them with new ones, have truthfulness be his first reaction instead of his last – is a question someone else will have to answer. I think only a trained psychiatrist can even say if that is possible. Whether or not it is probable considering his history is a completely different question. Again, using history as a guide, he tends to not put forth the complete effort and follow-through that a huge change like that would likely require.
What is his pattern? Has he ever admitted to a lie when you’ve discovered it, but before you’ve shown your evidence? Does he always or almost always continue to lie in the face of evidence or until you show evidence? Think about that. Admitting he has lied when faced with evidence is not a sudden burst of honesty—he doesn’t get a positive check mark for it.
To answer this question I have to admit that he does have one basic, overriding pattern. That is to lie, then lie some more, then stick to that lie even when it is no longer a reasonable, feasible story that any rational human-bring would believe, then finally cave when presented with irrefutable evidence that cannot be explained away. So, yes, in that regard he does not deserve a check mark for finally fessing up when to do otherwise would be tantamount to absurdity. It would be like pointing at the sun and calling it a coffee mug – you can do that all you want, but no one will ever believe it because it is so obviously false in every way.
That is not to say that he has NEVER admitted a lie before I have found out. It just rarely happens. In fact, I think the ONLY time it has ever happened is with his last disclosure where he told me about the random online sex hookups. I had no way of knowing that. I had no way of finding out. I hadn’t really ever asked him about it directly, although we had plenty of indirect conversations where that topic would have naturally come up – like when we talked about how many people we have slept with, whether we have ever used online dating services (technically a sex chatroom isn’t a dating site, I guess), exposure to STDs, etc.
There have also been a few times in the recent months where he has told me something that did not sound true or didn’t make complete sense. When I questioned him by saying, “Is that really the truth,” he then said, “No, it isn’t” and gave me the real story. Those occasions felt like HUGE steps forward – mini victories in and of themselves. Now it seems almost absurd that his level of dishonesty was so high that having him admit to a lie when asked seemed like some ginormous progress.
There are different levels of separation. No Contact is the strictest level and it is only broken for limited exceptions: financial issues, emergencies—one of you is in the hospital. As for how long, that depends on the progress. I don’t think No Contact should be an option in your situation. If your situation gets to a No Contact level, it should go all the way to divorce instead.
Agreed. Completely. If we have to get to that point, then there is no way we will ever be able to salvage this marriage.
So for a lower level separation you could start out with No Contact other than counseling sessions and draw up a plan for gradually increasing contact. Of course that begs the question and brings up the fear: without your presence is he even less trustworthy?
Another blogger commented on that as well. If my presence makes a big difference in his recovery, his level of committment to change, or his trustworthiness, then I think we are already doomed. If he can’t be a trustworthy individual without me right by his side, then he really can’t be a trustworthy individual, right? At least not trustworthy enough for me to intrust my life, safety, and future to.
These are excellent questions. How DO you measure someone’s honesty objectively? How do you measure progress with something so abstract? My only answer is that someone else will have to assist me in making that call – preferably a trained therapist or psychiatrist.
I don’t think he can make real progress on this issue alone. I don’t think I qualify as a real judge of progress in that area. I certainly don’t think it’s healthy for me to be the one who decides when he is being honest and trustworthy. So that means I can’t accept that progress has been made on this issue until I can see that he has actually worked on it with someone who is qualified and who believes change is possible and has a plan for how to get there.
“Full disclosure with polygraph? (Does it even matter if he’s lying to himself?)” Will this tell you anything new? Sure, it might tell you when he’s lied regarding something specific, but you already know that he is dishonest in general. Can repetition with a lie detector train honesty into a person?
That is what I keep coming back to. Will a polygraph tell me anything new? Even if he passes every question I can think of, that will not change his general dishonesty. It won’t change the fact that there isn’t one “perfect” question I could ask that would ensure he won’t lie again. It won’t tell me whether he is already keeping something from me that I could never imagine to ask about. It definitely can’t tell me that he won’t lie in the future.
Can regular polygraphs “train” someone to be honest? I don’t know. Some people seem to think it is necessary for recovery from sex addiction. My thought is that if you have to be strapped to a lie detector regularly to scare yourself into telling the truth then you are probably not a person I would ever want to put my trust in. My husband seems to think that I want a polygraph, that I have decided that is the only way I can move forward. The reality is exactly the opposite – I haven’t decided anything yet with regards to a polygraph. I’m still on the fence, and I’m honestly leaning towards the “what good would it do?” side.
“My goal would be to work towards REAL recovery and reconciliation where we are each taking responsibility for our own healing.” A noble goal, but only part of it is within your control. Your goal is for you to take responsibility for your healing; your desire is for him to take responsibility for his healing, but that cannot be a goal of yours because it is not within your control.
Very, very true. Again, I have to be reminded of what I can really control. I may be able to ask for something from him, but I really can’t control if he does it or not. I can’t set a goal for our marriage that relies on his actions right now because I do not know what actions he will take.
I often wonder if my go-getter nature enables his lazy, passive side. I do the research, I read the books, I make the lists, I look at the details, I set the goals, I figure out the plan to reach them – so he thinks he can just sit back and watch. Since that is my nature and it is not his, I tend to become the only one really taking a hard look at things. His move is to say “here’s a decision that needs to be made, let me know what is going to happen.” He certainly did that in this case.
I have realized that I cannot control or dictate how he does the work, or even if he does it at all. I can’t ever say that “my way” would be the best way for him – it probably wouldn’t be since we process things so completely differently. He needs to figure out what HIS way would be – or he needs to stop trying (or pretending to try) altogether. Actually, I need to stop saying that HE needs to do anything. What really has to happen is I need to figure out what my bottom line is…
That last part is where I have been trying to get. That is where all of this thinking, list-making, questioning, and soul-searching has been leading me. I have to figure out what MY needs are, what plan of action I will take, and at what point I stop waiting for him to figure things out on his own and just keep moving forward without him.
You have been focusing on your development with hope that he will too. As I said in my previous post, you have been earning way to reconciliation or divorce. But at some point you need to say you are there. What is the reality of your situation?
Yep. I can feel that I am getting closer to discovering the reality of my situation. You would think that “reality” would be easy to discern, but, funnily enough, it has been one of the hardest processes I have ever been through. We shall see what tomorrow (really today at this point) holds as I take yet another step closer to wherever it is this journey is leading me.
- What’s Next? What SHOULD We Be Doing? (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- When we choose honesty (heidicvlach.wordpress.com)
- On Honesty (nikotheorb.wordpress.com)
- Good Liars: Their Characteristics and Why They are So Hard to Detect (workplacepsychology.net)
- [link] Why giving polygraph tests to sex offenders is a terrible idea (slendermeans.wordpress.com)