Post by Faith Reboot’s Marietta Taylor
“My check was $662.” Actually, it was more, but he had something he wanted to do with the money and so he told me the total minus that amount.
“Oh they are old friends of my family.” Actually, there were his former fiance’s parents.
Examples of a dirty deed that has occurred in my marriage – deception. There have been others. Some bigger and some smaller, if we were to classify them. And I am reasonably sure there may be a few others in the future because neither my husband or I are perfect. Deception is a hard habit to break. But it is one we need to work on ridding ourselves of if we want our relationships to remain healthy. Let’s face it, it’s not just our marriages but all our relationships that can be affected.
Over the years I have come up with a list of six ways to clean up the dirt of deception. It can be a continuing process, just like cleaning your physical house. Let me confess that I still have some “cleaning” to do, but I am actively working on it.
6 Ways to Clean up the Dirt of Deception
1. Unmask the reason. Figure out why the deception occurred in the first place. Was it for self-preservation? Maybe we didn’t want to deal with the response of anger, frustration or disappointment? Or perhaps it was just selfishness? Whatever the reason, figure it out. We can’t change the behavior if we don’t know why we’re engaging in it.
2. Confess the truth. Tell the other person. From experience, I can tell you it is so much better than them finding out on their own. That just adds another layer of complication and mistrust. Plus, if you know you have to go confess, it makes it much less palatable to keep being deceitful in the future. Don’t forget to confess it to God. And if there was another sin involved besides the lie (or lie of omission), then some time really needs to be spent talking that over with the Lord.
3. Seek forgiveness. Confession by itself is not enough. We need to seek forgiveness. Trust has been broken. The relationship has been damaged in some way. There needs to be repentance and a request for forgiveness. Be genuine about the repentance. Yes, it’s possible we will falter again, but trying and failing is more easily forgiven than insincerity.
4. Seek alternatives. Remember unmasking the reason? Well now we need to figure out a better way of handling it. Telling the truth is an obvious one. But we need to look for a solution to the root cause. For example, if we hate to admit our forgetfulness played a role yet again, ask the other person to remind us and sit with us while we complete the task. Or ask to be held accountable by being required to provide proof the task is done. Whatever the situation, come up with some viable alternatives that will work for both parties, while addressing the situation at hand.
5. Deal with the consequences. Unfortunately, each instance of deception causes some damage to the relationship. Sometimes the damage is minimal but sometimes it can be devastating. The other person will probably question our integrity going forward. That is a result. And we have to accept that. We need to keep communication open and figure out together what can be done to begin repairing the damage. Honesty obviously comes to mind. But there may be other restitution or safeguards that need to be put in place. Do the work to clean things up.
6. Pray. Pray for strength and wisdom to change the behavior. The more times deception occurs, the harder it is to repair the damage. But it is possible for things to be good again. Sometimes they can be better because you are creating new habits and tossing out old ones. Pray that God allows for restoration and healing as a result of real effort and work to breathe the fresh scent of honesty and transparency into that relationship.
Our relationships can sparkle with the shine of love and trust even after the dirty deed has been done. My husband and I worked through each of those situations you read about. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty. But we did it because we love each other and aren’t willing to throw away our marriage. I know that by using these tools, we can clean up past messes and hopefully prevent new ones. I hope you use them to make your relationships shine.
Do you struggle with deception? Have you overcome the effects of it in a relationship? Please share your experience in the comments or stop by my blog at www.mariettataylor.net