Does this dress make my ass look fat? is a question that sends chills down the spines of husbands everywhere. On the surface it appears to be a rather straightforward question requiring a simple yes or no answer. But just beneath the surface there is a potential crisis in the making, one that tempts the savvy spouse to resort to telling a little white lie.
A lie is defined as a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement with the intention to deceive, often with the further intention to maintain a secret or reputation, or to avoid conflict or punishment. A white lie is told to avoid the harmful and realistic implications of the truth and generally offers some benefit to the liar and often the hearer as well. Should the white lie be revealed as such, it would ideally cause a minimum of discord or harm.
Although the origin of the word lie can be traced back to Middle English in the year 900 AD, St Augustine composed a rather extensive treatesie on the subject in 396 AD. He was later joined by Thomas Aquinas and Emmanuel Kant, all three of whom roundly condemned the practice as a perversion of the natural faculty of speech that undermines trust in society.
The efficacy of the white lie is often demonstrated early in childhood, promulgated by, of all people, our parents. After all, wasn’t it them who made us sit down and write a note thanking grandma for the lovely sweater she gave us for Christmas when what we really were hoping for was a new Schwinn two-wheeler? How many times a day does the question How are you doing? receive the response Fine thanks, and you? when the truth is often something entirely different.
So despite the fact that we are taught early to lie and that we practice lieing almost every day, Thomas Aquinas still makes a good point. Speech is the foundation and primary currency of civilization and when intentionally misused for personal gain, it does undermine civilization’s basic fabric. The same holds true on a smaller scale in the realm of personal relationships. The very real trouble with telling even white lies in a relationship is it places us on a very slippery slope: where, exactly, do we draw the line when lieing? Once we learn how a minor evasion or omission makes life a little easier, are we not tempted to employ the device on an increasingly larger scale?
A classic example would be a case of emotional flirting at the workplace. You and someone and someone you work with discover a mutual attraction for each other. Typically this would play out in rather innocent circumstances, as small talk around the water cooler, in the break room or possibly even after work at a local watering hole among a group of co-workers.
On the surface it may not appear that the relationship between you is any different from any other work relationship, but you have noticed a difference. You notice that you begin to look forward more and more to these encounters, have developed an interest in learning more about the other’s personal life and begin thinking about them when they are not around. This is considered emotional flirting and the question becomes What do I tell my spouse about this?
Typically, men adopt a more legalistic approach, I haven’t done anything that constitutes infidelity under existing state and federal statute, while women in this instance are more inclined to view the marital vows as being if not broken, at least bent a little. But how is this circumstance then handled? Men might argue that since nothing has happened there is nothing to say. Women might counter with If nothing happened, why are you reluctant to discuss it? A sticky wicket.
While women are probably more inclined to think that one shouldn’t put themselves in situations where these kinds of things may happen, men would be inclined to consider the situation as harmless fun that constitutes no threat to their marriage. Regardless of what, if anything, is eventually conveyed to the spouse, the very circumstance of emotional flirting ought to be scrutinized closely by the participant for inner meaning. Are you telling yourself you want out of your marriage? Are you saying to yourself things in your marriage have become dull and require some spicing up? Are you just a selfish, cruel, insensitive cur? The answers will help inform you about what steps might need to be taken to remain in control of a constructive life and not allowing outer circumstances to dictate events.
Even though a white lie may serve to avoid conflict or stress with another person, there is no real reason to employ this technique on yourself.
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