Experts: Lying, if not excessive, can make a marriage happier

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    Mar 26, 2013 2:27 PM GMT
    I used to think that full transparency was best... but having seen that in action has given me pause.

    "Some Experts Call It 'Buffering'; If Not Excessive, It Can Make a Marriage Happier"

    Often the more open partners are with each other, the less happy they are, says Marianne Dainton, a professor at La Salle University, in Philadelphia, whose research focuses on communication in personal relationships. In dozens of studies over the past 20 years, Dr. Dainton has found people often say sharing too much is a source of relationship dissatisfaction.

    Does being open lead to dissatisfaction? Or are dissatisfied people more likely to be open? Dr. Dainton says she doesn't know.

    Avoiding a topic so as to avoid a fight is often good, Dr. Dainton says. But avoiding topics like financial mismanagement or addiction isn't protective buffering. It's selfish. And as for the biggest lie of all, marital infidelity—whether to tell or not is an important question, but not the primary one a person will need to address if unfaithful to a spouse, therapists say.

    Experts suggest a cost-benefit analysis. Will the information be more harmful to the relationship if disclosed up front, or discovered later? Consider disclosing if withholding gets in the way of intimacy, experts say. But if it will only hurt your partner, then don't tell.

    [...] A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships in 2009 found 71% of people whose partners actively lied to them said it created distance. Among those whose partner kept a secret but didn't lie, only 43% said it created distance.

    "When people overtly lie about something, they can take something innocuous and make it into a bigger problem," says John Caughlin, the study's lead researcher and professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Experts say gender isn't a factor—both men and women withhold information.
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    Mar 26, 2013 3:23 PM GMT

    Good luck with that.