Why Does My Husband With ADHD Lie to Me?
You thanked your husband for feeding the dog this morning, and he gleefully accepted your praise. But then you learned it was actually your son who fed the dog.
Plenty of couples know how frustrating it can be when their spouse lies to them. Whether it’s a small white lie or a serious betrayal, lying is never a good sign in a relationship. If you have a lying spouse with ADHD, you may feel even more concerned.
Why does your spouse with ADHD lie to you? Is there a connection between ADHD and lying?
Learn more about why your spouse may be lying and how you can approach the issue here.
The Connection Between Adult ADHD and Lying
People with ADHD don’t necessarily lie more than other people. However, ADHD creates challenges that may make a person more likely to depend on untruths.
Think of ADHD as a series of undesirable symptoms, rather than one disorder:
- Disorganization and trouble multitasking
- Difficulty with planning and time management
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Restlessness and mood swings
- Anxiety, depression, and shame
All of these experiences can make a person more likely to lie. When you do something impulsive, for example, you might tell a lie to explain yourself. Because people with ADHD can be more impulsive, distracted, and disorganized, they may end up telling more lies.
Why Does My Spouse Lie to Me?
There are many reasons why spouses may lie to each other. In relationships where one or both partners have ADHD, lying can be more prevalent. These are some of the most common explanations for why your spouse is lying to you.
Lying Conserves Energy
Sometimes, your partner with ADHD may find it easier to tell a lie than to try to explain themselves. When you ask your spouse a question, they might shut down because they think you’re accusing them of doing something wrong. They could lie to prevent an argument or end a tedious conversation.
Lying Limits Labor
People with ADHD can have difficulty switching between tasks, especially if it’s a task they don’t want to do. When your husband is absorbed in his phone or TV show, he may lie to avoid chores, childcare, or emotional labor. Lying to limit labor allows your spouse to continue doing what they want.
Lying Limits Damage
Sometimes, your spouse may lie to protect your feelings and avoid upsetting you. For example, if you’ve asked your spouse repeatedly to make Anniversary dinner reservations, he might lie and say that he already has. He may justify this by promising himself that he will make the reservation today, and believing that you will never know the difference.
Lying Earns Your Acceptance
In the example mentioned at the start of this article, the husband tells a white lie to gain his wife’s praise and attention. People with ADHD often worry that they are not living up to their partner’s expectations, so they will seize any opportunity to make their spouse feel proud.
Lying Makes Them Feel Better
People with ADHD may feel a lot of guilt and shame about their condition. Their ADHD makes it difficult to interact with others, frustrates their spouses, and creates a cycle of stress. Lying is a coping mechanism; your wife may be lying to prove to herself that she is a good, loving spouse or parent.
They’re Not Intentionally Lying
People with ADHD struggle with attention, short-term memory, and distractions. This means that ADHD and non-ADHD people experience and remember the world quite differently.
If your spouse frequently misremembers things, you might find yourself in a lot of “he said, she said” arguments. It’s not that your spouse is intentionally trying to gaslight or lie to you; they genuinely remember the experience differently.
How to Stop Lying in Relationships
Learning how to talk to your spouse about lying can take some practice, trial, and error. The most important thing is to always approach your spouse with empathy. Focus on positive solutions and avoid blaming them or beating them down.
Separate the Person From the Diagnosis
Is your husband is lying to you because of her ADHD, or does he actually want to manipulate you? It can be hard to untangle our feelings from the reality of our spouse’s intentions. Sometimes ADHD can make a person seem selfish, lazy, or irritable, but in most cases, your spouse does not mean to act this way.
Have empathy for ADHD, and consider how their condition can make it difficult for your spouse to respond appropriately. Separate person from behaviors. Just because your husband may lie, it does not make him a liar.
Have Realistic Expectations
“How are you today? I’m doing great!”
Everybody tells little white lies sometimes, especially if it makes life easier for everyone involved. Although lying to your spouse can be a sign of an unhealthy relationship, it is also a simple human behavior.
Understand that your partner with ADHD may lie more than other people, but it is not because they want to hurt you. Set realistic expectations for your partner in your mind and understand that they are only human.
This is a crucial step in any conversation, but especially in conversations with someone who has ADHD. Before making any requests or asking any questions, make sure that you have the person’s full attention. Sometimes your spouse may lie because they simply weren’t paying attention to your question.
If your spouse is distracted by their phone or the TV, ask them to pause and listen to you for a moment. Establishing attention and connection will increase the odds that you’ll get a focused, truthful response.
If you’re unsure about the statement your spouse just made, don’t attack them or try to catch them in a lie. This will only cause them to dig their heels in deeper. Instead, try gentle methods for double-checking:
- “Did you say…?”
- “Did I already ask about…?”
- “What was it you said to…?”
- “What did you say about the…?”
Asking your partner to repeat themselves may jog their memory and produce a more truthful answer, especially if they were distracted the first time you asked. If your partner corrects themselves, don’t get angry with them for lying the first time you asked. Thank them for answering your question.
Being in a relationship with someone who has ADHD presents unique challenges. If your spouse is frequently lying, it’s important to approach them with empathy, respect, and love. Work together as a team to discover solutions and encourage healthy communication.
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing: