Written by Beth Scholes

LIAR! This word in itself conjures up many different emotions in us. Trust is a major foundation in marriage and therefore worth protecting. There are six love busters that marriages need to be careful of.  This study focuses on the issue of dishonesty vs. honesty in several areas:  emotional honesty, historical honesty, current honesty and future honesty.  We will look at several things:  ways of being dishonest, why honesty is important, total honesty as a policy, (do you agree or disagree) and how to put a plan in place to overcome dishonesty and create more intimacy in your marriage.  This study uses the principles from the book Love Busters by Willard F. Harley Jr.

Let’s face it everyone has a tendency toward dishonesty in one area or another, some things are hard to admit about ourselves.  There are four areas of honesty to consider as you do this study: Emotional honesty, revealing your thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes.  Historical honesty, revealing issues of the past particularly that reveal your weaknesses.  Current honesty, revealing the events of your day and activities.  Future honesty, revealing future plans and regarding your spouses’ input.

How do we deal with the issue of honesty in marriage? Some people think it is ok to have secrets, “after all we are two different people”.

Honesty is so valuable as we adjust to each other because we continually grow and change as time goes by.


1. What are different ways of being dishonest, with your spouse? What area are you most vulnerable in? More thoughts...
Love Busters lists 4 types of dishonesty in the book: 1.) Protection, trying to protect each other from unpleasant information, to avoid upsetting your spouse. 2.) Looking good, some people need admiration and approval so much that they lie to make themselves look good. 3.) Avoiding trouble, comes out of a desire to not get caught going something wrong. 4.) Compulsion, some people lie about anything and everything, this extreme form is rare.
2. Why is honesty so important in your marriage? What benefits are there in sharing as much as you can about yourself with your spouse? More thoughts...
The more you know about a situation the better equipped you are to make decisions, the same is true about honesty with your spouse. If your spouse says or does something that hurts you, and you do not tell them how you feel, they will continue to do so out of ignorance to your hurt. The more information you have about each other, the more you’ll understand each other. Total honesty also meets emotional needs in marriage. Honesty gains a glimpse into the other person’s thoughts, feelings, likes, dislikes, habits, etc. Emotional needs are more easily met with greater understanding of each other.
3. Do you agree total honesty is the best policy? What about past hurts, or something BIG, like an affair, is honesty really best? Is there such a thing as being too honest? More thoughts...
According to Love Busters, dishonesty usually only postpones the discovery of truth. Eventually the spouse finds out the truth, there are now two problems to deal with, “the issue” and the dishonesty and distrust around “the issue”. Dishonesty usually hurts the spouse more than the thing you are hiding. Dishonesty causes immense pain in a marriage, and it takes such a long time to re-build trust.
4. How can total honesty be difficult on your marriage? In what ways do you need to be careful telling the truth in love? More thoughts...
There is a difference between blunt honesty and diplomatic honesty. Many people wrap “honesty” in a package along with an angry outburst, disrespect, or demands and think, “honesty doesn’t work, look where it got me.” It is not easy to express honest feelings without being demanding, disrespectful or angry. It is important to explain to your spouse how you feel, make it an I statement. “I become upset when I am feeling ________. Instead of, “You upset me when you do ________”.
5. Do you have some “secret” areas of your life? How do you protect your privacy in these areas? Even if it seems ok in the moment is it truly best for your marriage long term to have these secrets? More thoughts...
Consider from the above list why you have these secrets: is it to protect your spouse from hurt, to “avoid trouble” or to look good? Let’s look at a plan to help you do what is best for your marriage. According to Love Busters the book, it is important to identify why you are being dishonest. Admitting to dishonesty is the first step in overcoming this issue. Understanding why you have been dishonest is the next step. What motivates this behavior? You need to get at the root of the issue not just look at the surface “fruit”. A common reason for dishonesty is the issue of privacy. Marriage is not the place for privacy. Intimacy is what marriage thrives on, not privacy. The Bible is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom consider what the book of Job has to say Job 6:24-26 "Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?” This says that the truth sometimes hurts, but we can learn from what we have done wrong, instead of arguing. Being honest promotes growth, maturity and moving forward even if it hurts in the beginning, it is worth it, when done in the right way.
6. What can you do to overcome dishonesty in your marriage? Have you considered some steps or a plan of action to better your marriage in this area? More thoughts...
The first two steps in a good plan were mentioned above, identify the problem and understand why this is a problem. From there you can create a strategy. This includes: 1.) describing your dishonesty, keep a record of instances, feelings, things that trigger it and attitudes that come with it. 2.) determine how you can change circumstances to avoid the dishonesty, (if you have a spending issue, have the bills go to your spouse, etc. 3.) make sure you have your spouses’ approval for the changes 4.) set a deadline for the changes 4.) set some criteria for considering your efforts a success. 5.) If your strategy does not succeed as planned, what is your next step? Perhaps accountability with a friend, or counseling, decide how you will find more help up front, make sure you both agree. Clearly the Bible supports an action plan. John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. Words are nice but actions prove our love to be sincere. The final step in a good action plan is to document your progress. It is important to keep track. Start with a sheet of paper titled “Dishonesty worksheet” use it to list all incidences of dishonesty with a date and brief description. As you become more honest you will be listing less and less incidences of dishonesty. Celebrate your success!
7. Do you encourage honesty or punish each other by your response to honesty? What are some ways to encourage honesty with each other? What are ways we innately discourage honesty in each other? More thoughts...
Answer these questions to consider whether you encourage or punish honesty in your marriage: 1.) If the truth is upsetting, do you want your spouse to wait for a “good” time to tell the truth? 2.) Do you keep some things a secret and encourage privacy in your marriage? 3.) Do you have boundaries you don’t want your spouse to cross? 4.) Do you like mystery between you and your spouse? 5.) Are there subjects or situations in which you want to avoid honesty? 6.) Do you make selfish demands, disrespectful judgments or have angry outbursts when your spouse is honest with you? If you answered yes to any of the first five questions, you are vulnerable to dishonesty in your marriage. You can always justify a reason for being dishonest the first time, but it only opens the door for a flood of dishonesty to begin. If you answered yes to the last question you are punishing not encouraging your spouse for being honest. Try to eliminate the love busters in order to aid honesty in your marriage.
8. Is there a need for an action plan to deal with dishonesty in your marriage? If so, will you commit to the action plan? Do you need accountability for the plan? When will you start the action plan? More thoughts...
The above action plan has 4 steps: identify the problem, understand why, create a strategy, document your progress. This is a great starting point. Who will hold you accountable, other than your spouse? Accountability is so important, choose someone who loves you enough to speak the truth in love, those people are special because they are not common. Ecclesiastes 4:10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Consider this truth from the Bible for a moment. We need friends to help. Another verse is Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. How true that the truth from a friend is so valuable even though it may hurt in the moment. The Bible is the ultimate source of wisdom on every topic of life. Finally, choose a date to enact your plan and make sure to include a date for review as to how it is going.
9. Do you have any additional thoughts or comments on this study? Please feel free to ask any question you may have. More thoughts...
This study is not deep enough to deal with honesty issues like revealing an affair or some other BIG issue, if that is your situation we encourage you to find professional help before you proceed with disclosure of something of great magnitude. You will need that aid in the journey you face ahead.
10. Do you have any prayer requests? Prayer is a great source of help from a loving caring God and His son Jesus. We’d be happy to pray with you and for you. More thoughts...
Millions of people around the world turn to prayer and the Bible as a source of help when dealing with difficult situations. Both offer comfort and the realization that you are not alone in this - there is hope and help. Remember, God is the ultimate source of help and He loves you just as you are. Philipieans4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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