| Family Reflections |

Can’t Tell You the Truth: Part 1

What should we do when we feel we can’t be honest with the people we love?



My wife is a liar. I simply can’t trust anything she says about money because I inevitably find out that what she told me isn’t true. I ask her very straightforward questions like, “How much did you pay for the sheitel?” or “What did the takeout dinner cost?” She just makes up whatever number she thinks I want to hear.


He’s right. But that’s because I don’t want to have a big argument with him every time I make a purchase. If I tell him the true price of things, he goes on a tirade, so I make up a smaller price and hope he’ll forget about the conversation. He’s a busy guy so this works for me about half the time. He’s unreasonable. I shop wisely, but it’s never “wise” enough for him. He questions every expense, like I’m some sort of wayward child. He just doesn’t want me to spend any money at all. That’s impractical so I do what I do to minimize conflict.

What’s your opinion?

Should the wife tell her husband the truth every time even though it will enrage him? Should she cultivate honesty even if she knows it will produce stress, conflict, and heartache? (Let’s assume that the husband — a financially anxious fellow who won’t go to therapy — is not going to change his style of response.) If she were your daughter, what would you tell her?



I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of us moving out of the city. My wife and I discussed the possibility for over a year and asked a lot of people — including our rav — for advice. We decided it was the right thing for us to do at that point. Once we’d purchased the house, made the school arrangements, and had everything else in place, I told them. As expected, they blew up. It was exactly what I was dreading.


He’s right. We did blow up. But not for the reason he’s saying. Telling us the way he did, when the decision was a done deal, was insulting and infuriating. We understand he didn’t want to hear our opinion. So what? You don’t give your parents a chance to speak? You don’t give them any warning or time to process something that will affect them so hugely? You put all your effort into avoiding a few difficult conversations just to save yourself some aggravation? What was he so terrified of anyway? If he had such great reasons for needing to move, maybe he could have convinced us and helped us to make peace with our concerns and our loss. And even if he thought we were too controlling, then why not just give us the kindness of time to slowly adjust to the new reality?


This child knows his parents well; he knows that his decision will go over very poorly (to say the least) once he shares it. He delays telling them until there is no chance of them having any input. He’s got his own life to live, and he knows the best way to “handle” his parents is to tell them only once their input will be irrelevant. This will effectively silence them, and this is what he needs most.

What’s your opinion?

Is the child doing the right thing? Is it the parents’ own fault that he feels he has to do it this way? Perhaps their domineering, highly emotional style is hard for the son to manage? Or perhaps it’s not that they’re so strong willed, but rather that the son is so sensitive to their possible rejection or so avoidant of confrontation? Or maybe he just can’t stand the idea of watching them struggle and wanted to shorten the torture by “ripping the Band-Aid off” as it were, or at least leaving town promptly so as not to have to experience it up close?

Whatever the reason for his choice, do you think he should have tolerated the unavoidable stress of telling them before everything was finalized? Or do you agree with him that this sudden “dropping a bomb” approach was the right way to go?


In Part II we’ll look at techniques for handling situations like these.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 862)

Oops! We could not locate your form.