SECRETS’ CORNER – The poison of lies
IT HURTS WHEN people lie on you. That pain is compounded when those lies make others think less of you, and worse, disrespect you.
That’s why when a reader called and explained her situation, we empathized with her. Her statement is the basis of this week’s discussion: “My husband and I met when we worked for the same company. We were casual friends back then as we were both married to other people.
“However, our marriages coincidentally ended around the same time. We started going together months after our first marriages failed and within two years got married.
“Despite this, his first wife has told his two children that I destroyed their family. They believe her and disrespect me. How can I convince them otherwise?”
It was clear from this woman’s tone that she was hurting. She was continually being wronged, but was unable to do anything about it. She felt helpless. She was a victim, but there was no one to whom she could turn to get justice, and this has her angry and frustrated.
The impact of the lie being perpetually told against her has not only totally poisoned her relationship with her two stepchildren to the extent that they never visit their father at his house as she is there, but it is now causing friction in her marriage.
As she explained it, she feels her husband should have done more from the outset to make his ex-wife stop telling lies on her. Instead, he just dismissed the talk as foolishness. By the time he realized his children were reacting to her negatively, there was nothing he could say or do to change their viewpoint. For them, he is equally guilty.
Now he hardly sees or speaks to his teenaged children. They do not call unless they want money or something done. They do not spend time with him; neither do they encourage him to pay them attention.
What’s more, he cannot get their mother, his ex-wife, to come clean on the issue in their presence. He has tried a few times, and on each occasion she walks out and says she wants nothing to do with him and his b****.
We reminded this distraught woman that the most common reason why people lie is because they cannot handle the truth. That is, they are unable to face reality, they are unable to properly handle unexpected events, and they lack proper values.
The ex-wife is clearly angry about losing her husband, but may be more indignant over the fact that he has found happiness while she hasn’t. Therefore she set out to hurt him where it would affect him most – rob him of the love of his children. And it is working.
We advised this woman that all she could do is not to get angry at the teenagers’ behaviour any more as getting angry simply plays into the hands of the lying ex-wife. Rather, be as civil and as accommodating to them as possible and, hopefully, one day they will realize the truth of the matter.
As we explained to her, you can’t make people like you, or believe you. But if you are consistently fair with them eventually, if they mature to be reasonable thinking adults, they will recognize their own folly.
The following are edited responses on this issue:
– “You are married to the man, not his children. Let them believe what they want; you have the truth on your side. Live your life and be happy.”
– “Unless the children were too small to understand or be aware of what was going on at the time, then they have to take some responsibility for their reaction towards you too. The mother is immature, childish and totally unaware that she is negatively shaping the future of her children. You and your husband need not play their game.”
– “She doesn’t have to convince them; let their father tell them what really went down as that would carry more weight than her explanation.”
– “Even if she did play a role in the demise of her current husband’s marriage, that has nothing to do with the children and the ex-wife should not share that type of information with them.
– “While she is married to him and not the children, if given the opportunity children from a previous relationship can wreak havoc on a marriage, especially if they are being fed misinformation beyond their capacity to process. She needs to make sure she and her husband are on the same page, that they are communicating openly and honestly and don’t allow themselves to be played both ends against the middle.”
– “She is just looking to cast blame on anyone but herself. Many wives fail to see their shortcomings in the demise of their marriages . . . . If the ex-wife is so vicious as to lie to her children, she will reap the penalties of her own lies at some later date. She needs to look into why her marriage failed to avoid repeating the same mistake again.”