Speak to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero about this

When To Leave A Lying Spouse: 11 Things To Think About

Disclosure: this page may contain affiliate links to select partners. We receive a commission should you choose to make a purchase after clicking on them. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Some lies are too big for a relationship to recover from. Even small white lies can build up so much that the trust between you and your spouse is destroyed.

The question is: when are the lies too much to forgive?

Lying to your partner is unacceptable, and the line between what is and isn’t forgivable is a very personal thing. A lie can damage a relationship to its core, but does your partner’s mistake have to mean the end of your marriage?

Do your reactions change depending on whether it’s one big lie or lots of little, constant lies? Is the hurt the same if your partner is happy to continue lying to you over a period of time compared to making one wrong choice?

There are no right or wrong answers. Ultimately, when your relationship hits a rough patch, whether or not it survives depends on how much you’re willing to work on it and if you think there is anything left to save.

Is the lying too much for you to get past? There are several things to consider before you make your decision. Read on to decide if it’s time to leave your lying spouse.

Get expert help figuring out what your spouse’s lies mean for your marriage. Chat online to someone right now.

1. What are they lying about?

How serious do you consider your partner’s lies and what impact are they having on you?

Did they lie about the shop not having what you needed when you know they just forgot? Or have you just found out that they’re cheating on you?

Just because some lies could be considered smaller than other ones, doesn’t mean they aren’t just as damaging to a relationship over time. Constantly knowing that your partner is lying to you about simple, everyday occurrences can still test your patience and weaken the trust between you.

Lying isn’t a good thing. Of course, it would be better if your spouse didn’t lie to you at all, but now that it’s happened, it’s time to decide if the feelings of betrayal outweigh the love that you share.

Finding out that your partner has been cheating on you or keeping a much bigger secret to themselves could be harder to rationalize. It becomes even more complicated if they believe that they were lying to you for your own good, perhaps not telling you they’d lost their job because they didn’t want you to worry.

But the impact of the secret they’ve kept from you isn’t something inconsequential. Knowing the size of the secret they’ve kept or the length of time they’ve kept it from you might be too hard to move on from, giving you no alternative but to leave.

Only you can decide what you can live with and what you can’t. Or, rather, what you will live with and what you won’t. No one else can tell you what lies to forgive and what lies to walk away from. Trust your gut instinct, but above all, believe in your own happiness and follow wherever you believe you’ll find it.

2. Why are they lying to you?

Are your spouse’s lies always about the same thing? Perhaps they regularly lie when they’ve been out with their friends, drank too much, or forgotten to do something you asked them to do.

Think about how you react in these situations and whether this could be adding to the problem. 

It’s not your fault that they lie—that’s their own choice to make. But if you always react negatively when they make a mistake, causing an argument or not letting go of the issue, they could be choosing to lie in the hope they’ll avoid the backlash.

If your spouse knows you’re going to react badly whether they accidentally made a mistake or actively lied to you, then there is no incentive for them to start telling the truth.

If you’re not sure yet if leaving your spouse is what you want to do, then you should try everything you can to make the relationship work before you give up on it.

Rather than immediately being angry, try to work on your reaction when they do something to upset or disappoint you and encourage them to tell the truth because you respect and appreciate it more than when they lie.

It’s their choice to lie to you, but it’s an issue you can both work on together before you decide to move apart.

Of course, your reaction is not the only reason your partner lies about the little things or the big things, so consider why else they might not want to tell the truth.

3. Can they break the habit?

When lying becomes a habit for your spouse, it becomes easier and easier for them to lie about both the little and the big things in your relationship.

Some habits can become so ingrained that they are second nature and almost impossible to break. Like an addiction, your spouse can’t remember how not to lie. They are a compulsive liar.

Their lying may have broken down the trust in your relationship. They may have promised to do their best to make it up to you and work on being more honest and truthful, but if they can’t help themselves when it comes to lying, can you live with that?

Is it enough that they try their best to not hide things from you or tell you the truth when you confront them, but sometimes can’t help themselves?

You can’t always rely on the fact that the problem will go away, and if it doesn’t, do you still want to be in this relationship enough to live with this issue every day of your life? If the answer is no, then you know it’s not the relationship for you anymore.

4. Are their lies part of a larger problem?

Are the things your spouse is lying about not just harmful to your relationship but harmful to them too?

Even if their lies seem insignificant at first—perhaps spending a little money on some online gambling, having an extra drink, smoking a cigarette, or doing something else that they know you wouldn’t approve of—these habits can escalate into something much more serious and dangerous.

Do you think your spouse’s lies could be covering an addiction? More importantly, do you think they need professional help?

There’s only so much you can do to encourage them to take a better path, but there are trained professionals out there who can provide further guidance.

As much as you might feel as though you need to stay with them when they’re at their worst, you must also think about your own mental health and safety. If their behavior is becoming erratic or dangerous, staying with them could put you under mental strain or in physical danger.

If they really need help, then they aren’t going to be able to have a functioning relationship right now. They need to concentrate on getting themselves to a healthier place before they can worry about making your marriage work.

Taking some distance from your relationship so that you can both have the space you need to heal and work on yourselves before you can work on being together could be the best and kindest decision for the both of you right now. You don’t have to go away forever, but you might want to take a step back for now.

5. Do you see them as a different person than before?

When a person lies to you, it can feel like a betrayal, and it’s worse when that person is your spouse.

Your spouse is meant to be the person you trust most in the world. If you find out that they have been continuously lying to you, whether it’s something that happened recently or something that’s been going on for a long time now, the trust between you is broken and could completely change your perception of them as a person.

This lie, if unexpected, might have been something you never thought them capable of hiding from you. You could find yourself questioning other times in your relationship, wondering if they’ve hidden anything else, knowing now that they are capable of it.

If your trust has been broken by your spouse’s lies, you could be left questioning all of your memories as well as the love you feel for them.

Some lies could feel more forgivable than others. It’s a question of whether you think you can ever be happy with this new version of your spouse that’s been uncovered. You now know that they have the ability to lie to you in a way you never expected, and even if they promise never to do it again, you know that they could if they wanted to.

If you want to stay with them, are you staying for the person they were before you found out the lie or the person you know them to be now? You can’t go back once a lie has been told, and you’ll have to move forward knowing this is a different version of the partner you first chose to be with.

It’s a risk to stay with a spouse who has a tendency to lie in case you get hurt again. But if their best qualities outweigh their worst, then is it enough to get used to this new version of them and forgive?

6. Are you growing apart?

Finding out that your partner has been lying to you may not have been a dealbreaker for you at the time, but it could be subtly affecting your relationship now.

Even if you’re trying your best to move on, the loss of trust could be creating a distance between both you and them.

You may find that you are not spending as much time together and that you are not as affectionate as you once were. The lying, even if you’ve done your best to forgive it, could cause emotional barriers between you and your spouse because of the betrayal you felt from their actions.

Sometimes, even with the best intentions, relationships just don’t work out. You’ve given the relationship everything you could by trying to forgive and forget, but the lie has broken the trust and affection you had for your partner. If you don’t share the quality time you once did, then you are already drifting apart.

Trust is the essence of a healthy relationship, and if you can’t fully trust your spouse again, then your relationship isn’t going to work. Trust is the foundation of love, and without one you can’t have the best version of the other.

Sometimes there really is no going back—you might have already decided that the relationship is over, you just haven’t been ready to admit it yet.

7. Try to understand their perspective.

For you, lying could be a huge issue in a relationship. Whether it’s a big or small lie, you believe it’s unacceptable to lie to your partner because it’s a breach of trust and honesty.

Your reaction to your spouse’s lie could be something they never expected because they don’t have the same view as you when it comes to lying. They may have grown up in a household where lying was normalized and not punished. They learned from a young age that they could get away with lying and so became desensitized to it over the years.

In a relationship with you, your differing opinions on the importance of lying—or rather, not lying—has suddenly become an issue.

We can’t help the way we’ve grown up, the experiences we’ve had over the years, and the habits that have developed from them. We have to be understanding that different backgrounds and lifestyles make for different perspectives that might not always align in a marriage.

Your spouse might never have lied to you if they had fully understood your view on lying and why you feel so strongly about it. Equally, although they lied and need to be accountable for it, understanding that your spouse didn’t want to cause you harm could help you to forgive the situation more easily than you naturally would have. 

Before you act on your own impulses, it’s best to try to understand where your spouse is coming from. You don’t want to throw away a relationship over a small misunderstanding. However, if there are fundamental differences in the way you both see life and relationships, then this might not be the person for you.

8. Give them the opportunity to be honest with you.

Before you end your relationship because you’ve caught your spouse in a lie, try giving them the opportunity to be honest with you.

Try to frame the conversation with them in a non-confrontational way. As difficult as that might be when you’re upset or angry with them, if they feel like you’re attacking them, they will naturally become defensive and continue to lie to you out of self-preservation, making the whole situation worse.

If you calmly approach them, explaining how what’s happened has made you feel, they might begin to understand the impact of what they’ve done and want to rectify the situation.

Without telling them what you know, instead telling them what you think and feel, you can give them the opportunity to explain their version of events. If they don’t know you’re aware of the truth already, then you’ll know if they’re still lying to you.

Giving them the opportunity to come clean and tell you the whole truth is a chance for them to salvage your relationship. It’s an opportunity for them to admit to what they’ve done wrong and start making amends by showing you they know how damaging their lie was. If they can’t tell you the truth now, then there’s little hope that you can work on this in the future.

If you’ve given them the opportunity to be truthful and yet they continue to lie or deny any knowledge of what you’re talking about, then that’s when you know your relationship will never get back to what it was.

By continuing to lie to you, they’re showing you that they have no respect for your feelings or for the trust that your relationship was supposed to be built on. From this point, you know that unless you’re willing to accept the way that they are, there’s nothing to fight for in your relationship anymore.

For the sake of everything you’ve shared together, give your spouse an olive branch to begin the healing process both of you need before you make the decision to walk away. If they don’t take it, then you know you did everything you could.

9. You still can’t move on.

Perhaps lying has been an issue in your relationship that you’ve both tried to overcome before. You found out your spouse had been lying to you in the past but didn’t feel as though you could walk away from the marriage you’d built together.

Your spouse might have agreed to work harder to make it up to you and restore some of the trust that was broken by their mistakes, and you tried your hardest to forgive them and move on from the whole issue.

The problem is, you just can’t let go of what they did. Every time they irritate you or let you down, every time they accuse you of not doing something right, you find yourself returning to the same argument over the way they lied to you.

Nothing can compare to the hurt they caused you, so any time that they don’t live up to your expectations or don’t seem to be trying hard enough in your relationship, their past mistake is always your trump card.

Maybe the repercussions aren’t just surfaced when there’s tension. Do you find yourself questioning your spouse every time they tell you where they’ve been or who they’ve been with? If you’re worried about them being unfaithful because they have been before, do you panic every time they go out with their friends without you?

Can you trust that when they say they’re telling you the truth they really are, or do you find that your insecurities are still as strong as ever?

If you’ve tried to move past their mistakes, but you can’t let go of the hurt they caused you by lying, then you’re only going to keep being miserable in your relationship. Even though you wanted it to work, if you are still being affected by what your spouse did and genuinely can’t leave the issue in the past, then it’s going to drive you further and further apart.

Your spouse doesn’t know how to make you believe them when they’re telling the truth and you’re never fully able to trust them. Even with the best intentions, relationships don’t always work, at which point, it’s better to accept that than make each other unhappy.

10. Is this lie worth the end of your relationship?

If you’ve just caught your spouse in a lie, your immediate reaction might be that you need to leave them.

Your shock, anger and hurt are forcing you into an emotionally fueled reaction, and with some space and time you might feel differently than you do now.

Marriages go through ups and downs. People and relationships aren’t perfect and there are going to be times that one or both of you mess up. Much of a relationship is learning to communicate, forgive, and work through hard times so you can continue to grow stronger together. There will be rough patches that take dedication to work through, and it’s worth it if this is the relationship you want.

If your partner has blindsided you by lying, it’s a lot to take in, and it can be difficult to process how this affects the relationship you share. When you’ve had a chance to think rationally, is what your spouse has done enough of a dealbreaker for you to walk away without regret?

For some couples, once the lies have been put into perspective, what they have in their relationship is still worth fighting for because they know that they can work through this obstacle together.

If you don’t feel reassurance from your partner that they know they’ve made a mistake and want to work hard to prove to you how much this relationship means to them, then this relationship might not be worth the effort it would take to save.

Does the hurt outweigh the history and the potential future you could share? If the answer is yes, then you know it’s time to leave.

11. They’re gaslighting you.

Gaslighting is never acceptable. It’s toxic and can be harmful to your mental health if you feel trapped in a relationship because of it.

It can be hard to know that you’re being gaslit when it’s happening. Gaslighting is when your partner convinces you that you’re the one with the problem when they’re actually in the wrong. They convince you that you’re misremembering things or blowing problems out of proportion. They may blame their behavior on you as a way of being in control of your emotions.

The more you begin to question yourself, the more reliant and submissive you become to your partner. If your spouse is a frequent liar, then gaslighting you could be their way of getting away with it. They convince you that you’re seeing things and making up scenarios in your head when you confront them with their lies. They use your own insecurities against you and ultimately manipulate you to get away with their double life.

If your spouse is always telling you that you’re wrong or your opinion doesn’t count, then you know that the relationship is becoming unhealthy. When you confront them about lying and they push the blame back onto you, it’s a sign that this is not a relationship you should be in.

You can never trust a person who gaslights you because they don’t have your best interests at heart. They don’t respect you and are deliberately trying to control you so that they can do what they like.

Don’t ever feel as though your partner lying to you is a reflection on you. To lie to someone is a personal choice. If your spouse values the trust and love that you share and genuinely cares about you as much as they should, then they would be devastated to know that their actions have hurt you. They would never try to deliberately confuse and demean you.

Don’t stand for anyone telling you what to think or how to act. Trust your gut and know that this relationship will only get worse if this is happening. Don’t be caught in an unhealthy relationship, just remember that you’re worth so much more. You shouldn’t have to stay home and argue, you should find a relationship where you can be a team with your spouse, with each other’s happiness at the heart of everything you both do.

So, when should you leave a lying spouse?

There isn’t always an obvious answer for what to do about a lying spouse. Some people’s tolerance for indiscretion in a relationship is much less than others and what would be a trigger for some people to leave their relationship might not be for you.

If you’ve been blindsided in a relationship by your partner’s lies, then it can be hard to reconcile the person you thought they were with this new version you never expected them to be. Learning to live with a person who has hurt you emotionally isn’t always possible for everyone, even when you want the relationship to work.

There’s nothing wrong with choosing to stay with your spouse if that’s what you want. You don’t have to live by anyone’s standards but you’re own. If you’re not sure if you can forgive your partner for what they’ve done, then you can always try to seek help from a professional to help you communicate and set some boundaries in the way you treat each other.

Ultimately, if you want to give the relationship another go, you need to see that your partner is willing to make amends and put in the extra effort to build back up the trust they’ve broken.

It’s ok if you try and things don’t work out. Not being able to get over your spouse’s behavior isn’t a reflection on you. You’ve tried, but a relationship with no trust isn’t going to work. If there’s no hope in getting that trust back, then the relationship won’t progress much further.

Knowing when to leave a lying spouse can only be decided by you and by your instincts. You have to be in a relationship that makes you feel fulfilled and happy. You deserve to be with someone you can rely on and feel safe around, not worried if they’re going to hurt you again.

Even having some space, without completely deciding it’s the end of the relationship can help to put everything into perspective. You’ll soon know whether you can’t live without them or thrive as your own person without the worry of them disappointing you.

The only decision you can make is to put your own happiness first. Be selfish when you decide what you want to do. You are the one who has to live with this relationship every day for the rest of your life if you choose to stay. If you can’t be comfortable with this imperfect version of your spouse, then they’re not the right person for you.

Still not sure whether or not to leave your lying spouse? It’s not an easy situation to be in, and it might be all the more difficult if you don’t have anyone to talk to about it. Talking to someone is a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.

Speak to an experienced relationship expert about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can listen to you and offer tailored advice to help you figure out the course of action that is right for you.

Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.

While you can try to work through this situation yourself or as a couple, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can fix. And if it is affecting your relationship and mental well-being, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people – both couples and individuals – try to muddle through and do their best to solve problems that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.

You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to an expert. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.