How to Tell If Your Spouse Is Lying

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Wray Herbert wrote in the article, "How to Catch a Liar: The Cognitive Clues to Deceit," "Most of us can spot barely more than half of all lies and truths through listening and observation."

Spotting a liar isn't easy. Your own suspicions can get in the way of getting to the truth. While some scientists reported two ways to spot a liar, British researchers determined that eye movement is not a good predictor of lies.

So, how do you know if or when your spouse is lying?

It is widely believed that nearly everyone lies on a regular basis. A study by University of Virginia sociologist Bella DePaulo asserts that some lying is necessary for everyday life. Here are some reasons your spouse might lie, signs that you are being lied to, and what you can do about the lies and lying.

Common Reasons That People Lie

There are several reasons that a person may choose to lie. Here are some of the common causes:

  • Attempt to protect someone else's feelings
  • Avoid conflict, embarrassment, or having to face the consequences of their behavior
  • Fear of rejection or losing their spouse
  • Hide something they did or did not do
  • Maintain control of a situation
  • Make themselves look good, or appear more successful, special, or talented than they really are
  • Postpone having to make changes in lifestyle

Are You Mislabeling Behaviors?

It is possible to mistake nervousness or distraction or lack of eye contact for lying? This may result in misreading or mislabeling your spouse's behaviors. Nonverbal clues to lying can be difficult to spot and vary from individual to individual.

The bottom line is, if you think your spouse is lying, ask questions and ask for clarification if necessary. A 2008 study suggests asking for eye contact and then asking that the story be told in reverse. It is important for you to trust your own gut and intuition or that funny feeling you may have inside.

Possible Signs of Lying

Remember — most of these signs can be easily misread and misinterpreted!

  • Avoidance of eye contact, eyes glancing to the right, staring past you, or turning away from you while talking
  • Being hesitant
  • Body language and facial expressions don't match what is being said such as saying "no", but nodding the head up and down
  • Continual denying of accusations
  • Crossing arms or legs
  • Defensiveness
  • Differing behaviors such as not acting in the usual way
  • Inconsistencies in what is being shared
  • Lack of finger-pointing
  • Lack of many pronouns while talking
  • Lack of use of contractions, emphasizing "not" when talking
  • Partial shrug
  • Perspiring on the brow if it isn't a warm day
  • Placing a barrier such as a desk or a chair in front of self
  • Playing with hair
  • Providing more information and specifics than is necessary or was asked for
  • Rigidity or fidgeting
  • Saying "no" several times
  • Slouching posture
  • Smugness
  • Stalling the conversation by repetitive use of pauses and comments like "um" or "you know"
  • Touching chin, or rubbing their brows
  • Unnatural or limited arm and hand movements
  • Unusual calmness
  • Unusual voice fluctuations, word choice, sentence structure
  • Unwillingness to touch spouse during a conversation
  • Use of word fillers or evasive answers when on the telephone

Do You Confront a Suspected Liar?

Some experts say that when you believe you are being lied to, you should not confront your spouse with your suspicions right away. They recommend waiting until you have discovered more information and facts.

Other experts believe that the sooner the cards are all out on the table, and the sooner honesty is lived out once again in a marriage, the better. Only you know what is best for your marriage. 

Purchase from Amazon: How to Spot, Revised Edition: Why People Don't Tell the Truth...and How You Can Catch Them  by Gregory Harley & Maryann Karinch 

*Article Updated by Marni Feuerman

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