Got caught lying to my husband and he doesn’t trust me

A few years ago I got too close to another man, I realized it was a mistake and pulled back but my husband found out, he didn’t believe nothing had happened and we split up. My husband and I were able to talk eventually and he believed me, we worked hard to rebuild our relationship and it was in great shape. I promised to have nothing to do with the other man and to tell my husband if I was ever tempted again.

A year ago a chance meeting with the other man led to some communication between us. I was scared that if I told my husband about this, despite it being innocent, he wouldn't believe me again. I guess I was never convinced he believed me the first time. I hid the other man's number on my phone and said nothing. I justified it to myself in that the conversations were mundane—mostly about this guy's crazy new girlfriend—and that there was nothing to tell. I honestly have no attraction to him now and can’t understand what I saw in him, but I felt sorry for him and his struggling love life.

A month ago my husband received an anonymous note saying I had been having an affair with this guy for years. My husband challenged me over it, and then checked my phone and found the phone number. I tried to deny it and get away with it [not a proud moment] but eventually explained what had happened and that the note was probably a malicious attempt by the ex-girlfriend, although I don’t know why she picked on me specifically.

Not surprisingly, my husband said I’d betrayed his trust, disrespected him and he didn’t believe a word I said. He won’t speak to me. The other guy has written to him to explain the situation but my husband will probably just think I put him up to it.

I know I am in the wrong but I am innocent of the accusation.

I don’t fully understand a) why I hid the initial meeting; b) why I lied when the evidence against me was so strong; and c) if there’s any way to convince my husband that I am telling the truth now. Is it too late?

Response:

Deception is driven by fear… fear of punishment, fear of hurting a partner’s feelings, fear of dealing with a partner’s hurt feelings, etc. You hid your conversations because you were afraid of the outcome or your husband’s reaction. Concealing the truth is a normal response in such situations (see why people lie).

The problem with lying, however, is that once you’ve done it you’ve got to keep doing it. When confronted about lying, most people deny the truth. People like to appear to be consistent, even if it means holding on to a lie that will ultimately be proven false. Simply put, we invest in the lies we tell. And once we commit to lying, it can be hard to come clean because we “fear” it will make us look foolish (or worse).

If you want to try to repair the situation, view it from your husband’s point of view. You consistently put your own needs and interests ahead of your relationship. Your husband undoubtedly feels devalued by your actions. To try and fix this, you will have to take full responsibility for what you did, validate his concerns and feelings, and wait for him to respond. He may not want to work things out and pushing him won’t help—pushing him will only make him feel like you’re still putting your needs ahead of his concerns (see rebuilding trust).

 trust issues

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