Reading this title you may be thinking to yourself, of course it's important to be honest with your therapist, why wouldn't I be? However when discussing couples issues, you might be surprised to find that often couples are not always completely honest in session. Think about it, if your deepest and most painful relationship issues were suddenly out on the table for everyone to see, wouldn't you be a little defensive too? This is often the main reason I encounter lies, however small and white they may be, when doing therapy with couples. Each party is very much concerned with how they look in the relationship, they don't want to be blamed, they don't want to admit their mistakes, and they don't want to admit how their actions may be ruining their marriage.
As a therapist, I may not always know when you're being dishonest. In fact, most of the time I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you're not lying, hiding information, or omitting important facts from the conversation. And to let in you in one of my little secrets, I'm really not that good at catching a liar in the act, so you probably have a pretty good chance of getting away with it! So if you can spin a pretty good tale, congratulations, you've pulled one over on the therapist. The not so good news however, is that this does nothing to help improve your relationship. If your goal is to come out of therapy looking like the good guy, there's a chance you may accomplish this. If your goal is to fix your relationship however, you've most definitely failed.
Speaking of good guys, in couple's therapy there is almost never a "good guy" and a "bad guy". Meaning, it takes two to tango, and I know that no matter how "good" you look, if you are in my office, there is probably something you are doing wrong in your relationship. My job is to find this something and tell you how to fix it.
Dishonesty at the beginning of therapy usually only means that you will spend more time (and money) teasing out your issues and rebuilding your relationship. Most often, the truth comes out at some point, so save yourself the hassle and let it all out sooner.
People are afraid that if they tell the truth that their partner will jump all over them with "see? I told you" or will rail on them for being a terrible person, but usually all your spouse wants to hear is a little accountability, so by being honest and telling the truth (no matter how painful or embarrassing it is) you're going to show your significant other that you care, and that you’re committed to the relationship.
In addition to pleasing your spouse with your ability to take accountability, you're going to give your therapist the information that he or she needs to help save your relationship. Keep in mind that my intention as a therapist is not to judge you, and no matter what you’ve done I’ve probably heard worse. Getting over the shame of your own actions and admitting your mistakes can be one of the hardest barriers to overcome in therapy but it is often the most rewarding. The relief people feel when they are able to be honest and own up is worth it, and so is your partner. So when it comes to honesty in sessions, put aside your pride, open up, and be honest.