More important, says the Rev. Joyce Giola, a North Carolina counselor, is that even seemingly harmless lies can build up and eventually cause big problems. "First you tell white lies, then you have to tell other lies to hide the first lies, which causes even more stress," Giola says.
Honesty doesn't need to be brutal, though, says Butterworth. There are ways to couch things like, "I know this might upset you," to show you're sensitive to your partner's feelings.
How to spot a lie
Mark Meadows, a sociology professor at San Diego's Union Institute, says couples can tell if their other half is fibbing by watching these signs:
Body language: Crossed arms and fidgeting can signify discomfort.
Eye contact: If you're not making eye contact, it's unlikely you're getting the whole truth.
Inconsistencies: If your partner says your pals are the best but is always busy when you've scheduled to go out together, something fishy may be going on.
Hesitation: Stuttering, stalling and changing the subject are clear signals that all is not on the up-and-up.
In this age of situational ethics and political correctness, there's something refreshing about total honesty. I found much more research, however, on why honesty is not always the best policy.
At the end of the day we all have to make our own choices. After all, we're the ones we have to live with. And we're the ones who suffer if we can't sleep at night.
Some parting comments:
"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." - Mark Twain
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave - when first we practice to deceive." - Sir Walter Scott
Linda Arnold is a certified wellness instructor and founder and chairwoman of The Arnold Agency, an integrated marketing communications firm in Charleston. Reader comments or questions may be mailed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mail livinglifefu...@arnoldagency.com">livinglifefu...@arnoldagency.com.