You've probably heard your grandma tell you that "a little white lie never hurt anybody." And, for the most part, she was probably right. In fact, you were probably even taught that a little white lie was good in some contexts. After all, you don't want to hurt people's feelings. If someone asks whether you like the new shirt he just got, you probably say "yes" even if you don't like it because you don't want to hurt feelings.
Even though white lies can be harmless, sometimes they're not as harmless as you might think — and nowhere is this more true than in marriage. Here are a few white lies you've probably told your spouse that you shouldn't.
"Of course you look good in that"
"Honey, I have an important meeting and I just need you to tell me how this looks..." But when you look and realize that the new outfit she bought looks like an old burlap potato sack, it's hard for you to say what you think. After all, your honey took a long time to pick out that outfit. So, instead of disappointing her, you just say, "You look great, hon."
Why you shouldn't tell this white lie. Your spouse has an important occasion. You want to help her make it as memorable as possible. If your spouse doesn't look great, she's not going to have the effect she wants. Instead of helping her to have a great time, she may look back and have a "not-so-good" memory instead.
"I love going to your family's house."
There's a reason there are so many jokes about in-laws. Having issues with each other's families is a common problem. But instead of fessing up and telling each other what you don't like, sometimes it's easier just to pretend how much you like your in-laws. After all, you don't have to see them that often.
Why you shouldn't tell this white lie. Your in-laws aren't going anywhere. Instead of pretending how much you love them, you should express what you feel and why. If you go on pretending how much you love your in-laws, you'll find yourself in more and more situations with them that you don't want to be in. After awhile, this will eventually build to resentment. So go ahead and say what and who you don't like. This gives you both an opportunity to address problems and avoid any unwanted situations.
"Last night was the greatest!"
The bedroom is a sensitive topic for a lot of people. As a result, it can be one of the hardest areas to receive criticism. So instead of telling your partner that "last night was only so-so," you try to build him up and tell him how great it was.
Why you shouldn't tell this white lie. Even though the bedroom can be a sensitive place to receive criticism, it's also an important part of your relationship. If you're unhappy in the bedroom, it shows outside the bedroom. Telling your partner that things are great is only giving him encouragement to keep doing the things you don't really like. But if you're not happy in the bedroom, you'll soon find yourself avoiding it altogether — and when the bedroom becomes sour, your relationship will become sour too.
Most of the time, you don't want to hurt your spouse. So a little white lie can be better than telling him or her something that's hurtful. But sometimes, the white lie can be more hurtful than the truth. Think long-term about the consequences of white lies. And remember, little white lies aren't always so little.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.