By E.J. Gordon
My shoulder was killing me. My lower back ached. I saw the new massage place right next to my yoga studio, so I decided to go get myself one. It wasn’t a vacation massage. It wasn’t a birthday present to myself. It was something my body needed to heal itself. But when I left the place, I lied about it.
I pulled my silenced phone out, and I’d missed three calls from my husband when I was getting worked on, not to mention a “where r u?” text. I immediately called him back.
“What’s wrong?” I asked nervously.
“Nothing. Was on my way to a meeting. I’ve been in traffic, so I’m bored. Where have you been?” he asked, not accusingly, just curiously.
“I was, you know, running around, running errands … and what not,” I told him hoping he wouldn’t ask for details.
“Are you having an affair?” he asked, only partially kidding.
“No, no I’m not. I was getting a massage,” I finally told him.
“Oh,” he said laughing. “Running around’? Really? Why didn’t you just say that you were getting a massage?”
“I don’t know. I think I thought you’d be annoyed that I spent money on something like that, but I really, really needed it. My shoulder and back were killing me.”
He then told me it was fine, that it was no big deal, but he repeated the story to our friends no less than three times, that he couldn’t find me, and then when he did find me, I’d lied to him and told him I was “running around” when I was really getting a massage. I wasn’t sure which part bothered him more … the part where I was getting a massage while he was working, or the part that I bull-shitted him about it.
As a rule, I don’t lie to my husband. I don’t need to, because he doesn’t get mad at me for the stuff we used to lie to my Dad about growing up.
Like the time when I was 16, and I backed my car into a friend’s, and my Mom and I took the money out of her secret “stash” to pay for the damage, and we never told my Dad. Or the time when we lost the back door key while walking the dog, and we had to get a replacement key, and we never told my Dad because he would have insisted on changing the entire lock just in case some nefarious element found it and came into our house at night (which was before he had “do not duplicate” written on every key in the house). Or the time I was banned from the local pool for a week for de-pantsing a classmate of mine, and I begged my Mom to keep it between us. We had lied to my Dad because he would over-react so much that it was unbearable. He would get so angry that he wouldn’t speak to any of us for a week, or he’d be in such a dark mood that our house became gloomy.
It was easier just to lie.
The first time I realized that my life with my husband would be different was when I knocked the side mirror off of my new mini-van. I had the car for one week when I’d backed it out of our driveway and slammed the mirror into the utility pole. I told my husband that I came out from a friend’s house and just found it that way. He didn’t believe me, but was nice about it. And eventually I admitted my transgression, to which he said, “Why did you lie about it? I’m not going to freak out like your Dad would.” For years after that I was careful not to lie to him. I never wanted to risk losing his trust in me, and he never made me regret telling him the truth.
However, there are always those little lies that seem to make life just a little bit easier, like the one I tried with the massage. I just didn’t want to fight with him about our philosophies regarding money spending or preventative health care, for that matter, like how he’s more comfortable with me spending money treating an injury at an orthopedic than me spending it trying to avoid injury at a masseuse.
And I know I’m not the only one:
I know several friends who are very creative with their shopping.
One friend of mine takes her daughters shopping and instructs them to leave their bags in the car so Daddy doesn’t see them; then she waits until everyone is gone and brings the purchases into the house.
One woman I know buys $50 gift cards at the grocery store and then spends them on herself so that the budget item appears to have fallen under the family’s food bill for the month. And I have my own memories of my Mom paying part in cash and part on credit and then whispering, “Now don’t tell your father.”
Why do we do this? Will our husbands beat us if we tell them we just dropped $500 at Neiman’s? Will they take away our credit cards and give us cash to minimize our grocery spending? Will they limit our financial freedom and ask us to show where every penny went? Most likely not.
But we lie anyway to avoid the fighting or even the annoyed silence that greets us when our hubbies don’t care for how we decide to spend money.
And then there are the other lies, about Botox and hair treatments and how we spent our day doing needed stuff around the house instead of maybe the hour and a half coffee we had with our friends. And there are the lies about who we were on the phone with when we ignored our husband’s call, or whether or not we really did invite his mother to the kids’ silly mini-dance performance. Really, we do this not to lead double lives or to “get away with” something, but to avoid the constant battling and maintain peace at home while making sure that we have smooth faces, pretty hair, and soft feet.
It begs the question, though, that if we women are doing ALL of this mini-lying to our husbands, what are they lying to us about to maintain the peace with us?
Let’s see … there are all those times that my husband says he left work already, but I can hear him walking to the car and then starting it. And there was the time that he told me he was eating healthy, but then I ran into my friend who owns a hot dog restaurant by his office, and he told me that he sees my husband every day for lunch.
And so I wonder, how many times did “I’m in a meeting” really mean “I’m working out” or “I’m golfing”?
And when he tells me that he and his friends only discussed business, food, and sports at dinner, was he really talking about how much he dislikes my friend or how annoyed he is at how messy the house is?
And do I really want to know the honest answer to “What in the world took you so long in the shower” or “Why is the iPad on your nightstand?” or even, “What time did you really put the kids to bed last night?”
Sometimes it’s just better being lied to as long as it’s about the shit that really doesn’t matter — stuff that does NOT equal Marital Betrayal.
I was discussing the shopping lies with a friend who said, “What am I teaching my daughters when I tell them to lie about this?” I looked at her and said: “Survival Skills”. Because while we’re told growing up that honesty is always the best policy, the reality is that it’s not true. How many times did lying get you out of trouble? For me, it kept me from getting arrested, from getting fired, from losing a friend, and from some other really embarrassing situations. Obviously, we don’t want to be or raise children who are chronic liars. We all know people like that, and no one likes them or trusts them. But there is a difference between trying to survive living your life your way and pretending you’re someone completely different than who you are.
The real danger is in the lies we tell OURSELVES.
These lies are the MOST costly: “The weight I’ve gained is probably muscle weight NOT the fries that I keep eating,” and “This flirtation is totally innocent,” or “My relationship with Xanax is totally healthy,” or “Screaming at my kids is a really good Old School form of discipline.”
But the lies or omissions that keep the peace are more like White Lies, which usually are okay, because your child doesn’t want to hear that you think she needs to lose weight, and your mother doesn’t want to hear that she drives you insane, and your friend doesn’t want to hear that you think her new boyfriend is a douche-bag, and your husband doesn’t want to know how much that purse really costs.
Trust me. I speak the truth. Most of the time.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: E.J. Gordon is a freelance writer, a regular contributor to GIRLillaWarfare, and “Sexpert”. Have any questions or topics that you would like her to address? Remember: No subject is taboo, and Anonymity is accepted. Contact E.J. at: EJGordon529@gmail.com.