I spent the first year of my marriage holding my breath. Even though we’d made our promises at the altar, I suspected that my husband secretly wished I was thinner or prettier or easier to get along with. I was convinced that he longed for a better version of me — the version of myself that I wished I was. I thought he might slip up and reveal his true feelings sometime when he was tired or angry, and I wasn’t sure I could take it.
As the months passed, this became a preoccupation for me. Fortunately, I’ve never been good at keeping my own feelings to myself. One day, when we were both a bit out-of-sorts, I told my husband I was thankful he was kind to me and didn’t make me feel inadequate, even when he was at his most raw and honest.
He looked into my eyes and pulled me into a safe embrace.
“Look as deep as you want,” he said. “You’ll find nothing but love for you.”
All that doubt and anxiety over a suspicion based on nothing but my own insecurity.
How much relationship misery and conflict is based on similar self-deception?
My friend Christine taught me to ask a hard, revealing question: what lie am I believing? What lie am I believing about myself? What lie am I believing about my significant other or my singleness? What lie am I believing about romantic love and how it’s supposed to fulfill me or change my life?
Sometimes the lies we believe are the source of unnecessary relationship conflict. We make assumptions about each other’s’ motives or or read into their actions. I’m guilty of thinking, “well, if he really loved me, he would do this” — creating a virtual minefield of unspoken expectations that could only lead to frustration and disappointment.
Sometimes the lies we believe reveal a dependence on relationships and romantic love that can only result in jadedness and dissatisfaction. When I got married, I thought I would never feel lonely again. When I found myself extremely lonely and isolated as I adjusted to life changes and a move and a new church group that year, it was hard not to feel that I had been let down by my marriage, not just my unrealistic expectations.
And sometimes, the lies we believe are beloved self-deceptions that mask our need for self-examination and maturity. These may be the hardest lies of all to confront, and perhaps the biggest obstacles to happiness in life and relationships. If you find yourself believing that only your spouse or partner needs to change in order to “fix” your relationship, or that, if you’re single, a boyfriend or girlfriend will supply the satisfaction and happiness you lack, you may need to call yourself out on the lies you’re believing.
It may sound harsh, but it’s coming from one who has been there. I’ve had to confront many lies I’ve believed about love, and I’m discovering new ones to deal with as my relationship with my husband matures and changes. It’s amazing how often I find that I’m the one standing between myself and contentment.
So, if you dare, ask yourself the question: what lies are you believing? The answer may change your life.