How to Get Over Lying in a Relationship

It’s one thing to understand how to forgive when someone lies or apologizes for being dishonest. You enter a whole new ball game when you are attempting to “get over” lying altogether. You may want it to just go away. That’s not necessarily going to happen. Stopping the act of lying and putting away the hurt and symptoms of being lied to may take time.

Understanding how to get over lying in your marriage is really important. It’s part of the process that leads to rebuilding trust. However, it is not as easy as just not thinking about it. The time it takes to get over dishonesty in a relationship depends on how intentional you are. I like to think about it in 3 phases,

Phases to “Getting Over” Lying

  • The person who lied attempts a genuine act of repentance and expresses remorse
  • Then the couple works together to make modifications in themselves and their relationship to create a healthier relationship
  • Finally, the couple works on reattachment to bind them back together, decreasing future negative acts.

How to get over lying in relationships

A version of the 3 phases I am suggesting above can be found in Dr. John Gottman’s 3 phases of recovering from an affair. The book, What Makes Love Last written by Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver, discusses this idea further. They call their phases: Atonement, Attunement, and Attachment. Each stage is critical to getting over betrayal. As with affairs, dishonesty causes a form of trauma, although much less trauma than cheating.

We can use the same flow of ideas to develop a process for overcoming dishonesty in relationships. Since lying can cause trauma, couples see intrusive thoughts and other symptoms arise. These symptoms arise due to the wound caused by the betrayal. The betrayed spouse is hurt. Uncertain if the behavior will happen again, they question if they know or can trust their spouse now. Getting over dishonesty is not simple. Let’s look at the three phases we introduced above.

Repentance and Remorse

The first phase requires genuine repentance and remorse. I have had many couples come into my office where the guilty spouse asks,   “Why is it taking so long for my wife to get over this.” I tell them that they need to be genuinely broken about what they did and show it through actions. Many times they do not understand.

What does remorse look like?

Do you care about your spouse? Do you want them to hurt? Do you realize that they are in tremendous pain? One of the few people they trusted in the whole world, they now question whether they even know who that person is. You caused that! You should be broken over that! If you are not, you are not truly remorseful.

This is not a time to bring up why you lied or what the hurt spouse did. That starts in a different phase. This phase is about patience. Take time to face the pain and hurt you caused. You may not understand yet how bad it hurts or why they’re in pain, but the pain is there! It’s your job to focus and find out the depth of the pain it caused and understand it.

Sacrificing first to feel the pain, then you will see the gain

You have to make up for what you did. Have you ever thought about what happens when you commit a real crime? Someone has to pay the fine. Who’s going to cover the cost of the damage to the car that was hit or a person’s injury?

You need to make up for the hurt that was produced out of dishonesty. Yes, there is room for grace, but that comes later. Humans are not God. He gives grace anytime he pleases, but he still needed to send Jesus.

What does repentance look like?

Your willingness to lay down your pride, needs, wants, and desire to be right is important. Whatever helps you understand what this means, figure it out. Then do it. Here is a list of words that may help you understand the goal:

        • atonement
        • penance
        • repentance
        • reparations
        • payment
        • redemption.

How are you going to use this phase to show your spouse that they are important enough for you to drop everything you need and help them heal their pain?

Repentance is…

Repentance is making up for what you did. It’s about remembering how much you value your spouse. When you take time to remember how much you love them and want them in your life, you will see that nothing else matters except apologizing and making amends.

It’s time! Make it happen! Lay down your needs, your sword, and your shield. This is not a fight, this is surrender to make peace, rebuild, and connect again.

How to get over someone lying to you

When someone lies to you, you experience trauma. You start to question what is real. A sense of distrust develops. You even struggle with having thoughts that you can’t make go away. You may wonder why they would lie. All of this is normal.

There is a process you have to go through now to get over the dishonesty that you have just experienced. Remember, it does take time to rebuild trust.

Your spouse needs to atone for their dishonesty.

As we discussed previously, making up for the hurt and pain that was caused is so important. You need to see that your spouse is genuinely sorry for what they did and willing to change. It helps when they take charge of the healing and growth process.

Seeing them make every effort to grow, stop negative behavior, and build new behavior is an indication of heart change. If you do not see this effort, it will be hard for you to rebuild trust. You will question whether they will hurt you again. No one wants to relive pain and trauma.

Make it known to your spouse that you have a very deep need to know that they are remorseful and are willing to do whatever it takes to make amends. Also, sometimes this can be taken overboard, so apply grace where you can with the addition of firm boundaries.

Your relationship will need to be rebuilt properly.

Dr. John Gottman talks about “attunement” as a way to rebuild a relationship after an affair. I believe it is also important to use a very similar concept to rebuild a relationship after a spouse lies. There are common things that happen in both affairs and dishonesty. Trust is broken in both. Much of the processes for both involve rebuilding trust.

Rebuilding a relationship is important when trust is broken. You can’t just assume that things will “go back to normal.” You will need proper boundaries, retooled communication skills, and plans to manage conflict and emotions. You will need to learn each other again in a deeper and more vulnerable way. Take time to do this in the right way. You will feel more comfortable and less unsafe in the relationship than you ever did before.

Intimacy and Connection will need to be re-established.

Once you have begun to rebuild your relationship, set some agreed-upon boundaries, and are practicing new ways to communicate and compromise, you can now start to work on a deeper connection. Spend more quality time together. Talk about things that reveal more of your heart and are vulnerable. Be real and open with each other.

As time passes, you can start to increase intimate touch and play. Make sure that this is not the focus. Make sure you feel safe. This phase is all about learning who each other is again on a much deeper level. Knowledge increases trust.

Sometimes in this phase, you may have to choose to trust a little more than you feel ready to. I am not wanting you to get hurt again, but your trauma may hold you back. If you are still struggling with unforgiveness and hurt, you may need to do a little grieving and healing with a counselor.

How to get over when you have lied to your spouse

If you were the perpetrator (Sorry for the harsh word, but let’s be real!), don’t get down on yourself. You can build trust again and help “get over” this bump in the relationship. You also can cause it to continue to fall apart. As I said before, complete and genuine repentance and a desire to change are needed. Sometimes even and apology is needed.

You know you aren’t that person who lied. I mean, you did lie, but your heart doesn’t want to hurt others. However, the behavior indicates a problem that needs to change. I know I said your heart doesn’t want to hurt others, but the Bible also says that out of the mouth the heart speaks. So there must be a part of your heart that is not loving others.

Maybe it’s fear that is also lodged there. What about pride or selfishness? These things are important to dig out and deal with. You will not come to the place of remorse without dealing with the parts of your heart that are causing you to be dishonest. The only thing I would encourage you to focus on right now is your heart and correcting that part of your heart that chose the dishonest behavior.


Getting over lies can be difficult. Your relationship counts on it. It’s a journey of vulnerability, openness, discovery, and honesty. Change is scary but necessary. Be committed to change. It’s okay for things to be different right? Especially if they are better than what they were before.

Don’t quit this relationship. You are both human and hurt and pain is part of the walk of life. Yes, assess whether your spouse is willing to take responsibility for what they did and the ways that their dishonesty damaged the relationship. Work hard to change. If they show signs of a desire to grow, then maybe grace is also warranted. You can get over dishonesty in your marriage if you choose to stick to the process. Get help if you need to and take it one day at a time!

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