Who hasn't heard or used the expression, "Oh, it's
just a white lie?" I sure have. Why do we mitigate the lie we've done? Are there good and bad lies? Is it wise to lie
sometimes? The answer is, "Yes." Like so much in life, there's a grey area and that is what I'd like to explore.
If a man with a gun is chasing someone and he passes you and
asks, "which way did that a**hole go," wouldn't you think pointing in the opposite direction would be a wise thing
When your wife is feeling insecure
about her looks or weight, do you think that telling her how awful that pimple really appears is a good idea?
Let's look at the little "white lies" that we do as
parents. Do we tell our children that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy aren't real? Should we?
With the recent horror in Colorado, how much should we discuss with our children?
Do our younger kids need to know every gruesome detail about the world ... right now?
I think we all know the answers to these questions. But, sometimes there is a very grey
area. Let's consider the following scenario and consider the right thing to do. I will bet you that men and women will have
seriously different responses to it!
or wife - it doesn't matter which - is on a business trip. He or she goes to the bar and has a bit too much to drink. At that
particular moment, the marriage isn't so good and he or she may have left home on the heels of a stupid fight. Being a little
drunk, he or she succumbs to the "charms" of the person in the next barstool and the next morning, he or she wakes
up not remembering a thing. Exiting quickly, horrified, and ashamed, he or she leaves.
Upon returning home, the at-home spouse innocently asks, "So, how was your trip?"
The business traveler simply replies, "Fine."
possibly cheating spouse is truly horrified and doesn't even remember the name of the person he or she may have slept with.
What is undeniable is getting drunk and waking up in someone else's bed.
What follows for the transgressor is deep introspection, perhaps some therapy, and an increased effort
to renew the marriage on all levels.
that spouse reveal what happened? What good would it do? If the other partner doesn't ask anything, is it okay to just let
it go? IF the other spouse does ask if you did anything wrong, should you confess?
Not an easy scenario, is it? My supposition is that most women would say that telling
the truth is the best response to this scenario while most men would say keep it to yourself. What do you think?
We actually live life more in the grey than in the black and
white of simply "Yes or No" or "Right and Wrong:" especially in our relationships.
Another facet of this discussion is the concept of unconditional
love. I would suggest that most of our deep and most important relationships actually have VERY conditional love. I wrote
about this in my column, All Love IS Conditional. Using the infidelity scenario as an example, most couples would agree that
beyond the marital vows, there is a conditional agreement to be faithful.
Other marital agreements are about who does what around the house, who will stay at home with the
kids, if either can, and who will pay the bills. There is an expectation of respect, honesty, care, affection, and so much
more in a marriage. Heck, it's as much of a business contract as any formal deal. It's just less formalized.
The same applies for our children. I expect certain things of
my boys. If one of my boys hurt someone - God forbid - I would still love them, I suppose, but that love would be severely
diminished. The parent of a killer has to think less of their offspring. The spouse of an abuser has to also think less of
Everything in life is conditional
and suggesting that we should love anyone unconditionally is foolish. Okay, love your dog that way - since they mostly love
us that way in return.
Life is complicated.
Lying is not a good thing. But, sometimes it is. Raising kids is hard. "Hardly" anyone would say being a parent
is fun, but most parents will experience great joy along the ride. The same can be said for marriage. Being faithful may be
a challenge for some, but the rewards usually outweigh the sacrifice.
There is a reason that men live longer when they're married. Ironically, there's also a reason that
women do so much better than men when their husbands die. It's all quite a puzzle.
While I suggest telling the truth is usually the best practice, when my wife asks which
dress makes her look less fat, I ALWAYS answer, "Honey, you look gorgeous in both of them!"