Need tips on how to handle all the lies

My husband has ADHD and he lies constantly about big things and little things. The really, really big lies (affairs, spending huge amounts of money, etc.) ended a few years ago, which is a good thing. However, the other lies have continued.

For example, we have set up a budget to pay off debt. There is enough money in the budget for us to eat well, live a decent life, give the kids the experiences they need (soccer, baseball, swimming lessons, etc.). There is not enough money in the budget for extravagant things (going out to lunch every day, buying a new smart phone or computer, buying excessive amounts of alcohol, soda, junk food, etc.). I stick to this budget like glue. He does not. And he lies about it. I see all of our accounts. I watch for transactions on them. I know what he spends and what he does with his money. He thinks he is fooling me by pulling cash out at weird times, claiming it was for something that it wasn't, and then spends it on whatever he wants. And sometimes he uses a credit card, hoping I'll somehow miss the transaction.

So, I know he is over-spending on the budget by around 200 a month. For the first year or so, I confronted him, gently, with these things. These conversations would go like this: 1) Deny everything, 2) Get confronted (gently as possible!) with the evidence and 3) get extremely angry and have a temper tantrum about being controlled, 4) Be reminded that this budget was OUR budget that we both want to get out of debt and that he had all the input in the world into it and FURTHER, we ALWAYS have the opportunity to amend the budget together, 5) Go over the budget again, 6) Come to the conclusion that the budget is sound, 7) Promise to stick to the budget, 8) Walk off in an angry huff muttering about being controlled.

Repeat this pattern about lots of other things in life--where he is at night, what things he did and did not do around the house, etc.

So obviously this is a bad pattern. Talking to him about the lies doesn't work--it just upsets both of us. Also, the lies at this point are pretty contained--small enough things that I should really just let it go.

Anyway, my long-winded question is, how the heck do I let this go? Lies are such a hot-button issue for me. They make me insanely angry inside. When I catch someone in a lie, I literally see red and have to go sit somewhere and calm down by breathing and meditating. I try to put the lie into perspective, see it for what it is--his defense mechanism to avoid embarrassment that he can't/won't control himself. I try to remind myself that I have bigger fish to fry and that, ultimately, this lie is doing little to harm to the family as a whole. But it still winds me up for at least 20 to 30 minutes after finding out about one. Multiply that by several lies a day, and I have a severe management problem inside my brain.

I am sure I'm not the only one dealing with this. I just want to stop feeling angry. The logical part of my mind knows the lies will happen every day. They will keep happening. They will never stop happening and I will have to deal with them as long as I have dealings with him, and since we have children together, that's going to be a long time, regardless of how our marriage turns out. Logically, this all works inside my head and logically, I see no reason to get upset. My emotions are not listening to my logic. I would really love to connect them up.

Thanks for listening.

A lie is a lie is a lie

Also, the lies at this point are pretty contained--small enough things that I should really just let it go.

I see no reason to get upset.

I have lived the EXACT way with DH.  The exact same responses. How our conversations go. It IS the very crux of our problem.  I don't believe a thing he says.  Sometimes he does not know the facts from the lies or if he gets away with the lies, he "remembers" the lie as truth.  A lie between partners, no matter how small, should never have to be "let go".  It just shows how much we have adjusted our expectations and compromised ourselves. When you see someone else writing your story, it permits you to see it anew.  Your DH is a juvenile delinquent trying to "get away with" as much as he can almost like a game. The only demands they make on themselves is if they would get caught "red-handed" by some form of male authority. THEN they may SHOW some remorse but probably not change.   They have no respect for their "moms" - us.  We have reason to get upset.


My DH would lie for everything,big things,small things,and I would always catch him...he does not know how to lie and not get caught,,,He lie to me just recently about something and I when I checked he was still doing it...I told him that if he had told me the truth the first time we would be at a better place,but he continues to lie and lie....then I would get upset and we would not speak for a few days well...I have to problem with whatever he wants to do or wants to go....but please all I am asking is not to lie......he never listens....and then we would end up arguing..


omigosh...this is "one" of our stories exactly

...even down to the random $200 spent on junk each month, though he's gotten better at that.  I am the adult child of an alcoholic and have dealt w/ TONS of lies in my life.  It's one of my big problem areas and I'm hypersensitive to even the mildest white lie.  He knows this.  He also knows I almost always catch him.  Recently (2 weeks ago) we entered into our worst phase ever in our marriage and our family (we have a 14 mos old) is truly at risk...mainly at his hand.  He is claiming he'll be "brutally honest" now about his feelings (got the ILYB bomb) but I've still caught him in some lies.  I used to think he only lied about the small stuff.  No, scratch that, I used to think he wouldn't lie to me at all...then it was just small stuff, and right now I think if he told me it was raining I'd still open the window to be sure.  I don't know how to get past this either, though we're seeing a marriage counselor next week and hopefully he'll be in ADD counseling very soon.  A few mos ago I was at the point of taking a personality disorder quiz for him - wondering if he was a sociopath or something else that's horrible.  I just can't comprehend how lying can be explained away by ADD.  Sure they're on the defensive or whatever...but he has even admitted to lying at work to manipulate situations to get what he wants.  Lying is such a problem for me, and is apparently status quo for ADDers? Like someone else said - sometimes seeing your own story rewritten makes you realize just how bad it might be.  We non-ADDers really do need to compromise basic values to stay in these relationships, don't we?  However, I love my husband beyond words and want nothing more than to get back to where we were.  More than that, I believe in the marriage commitment and especially once you have a child, I believe you need to keep that family intact by all means necessary, unless there's real danger involved.  I grew up in a broken home...god I do not want that for our daughter.  It's kinda hard to do the marriage therapy thing w/ an ADDer though, eh?  All the typical rules seem to be thrown out the window.  I'm so scared.  I wish I had great words for you.  What is your plan?

Why let it go?

Look, I'm nobody really.  I'm just an ADDer myself so take my opinion for what it is worth.  YOU ARE MAKING EXCUSES FOR HIM.  Defense mechanism--BS.  Bigger fish to fry--what could be bigger?  I'm not sure you should let it go.  I think your emotions and your logic have connected.  Or, you might have it backwards. Maybe your logic has made you angry and your emotions are making the excuses.  Logic would tell you he is a liar.  Logic would tell you that trust isn't an option and probably will never be (although I have faith that all people can change).  I lie, I'm sure you have at times, everyone does.  But huge lies, over and over, with little remorse isn't acceptable.  ADD can be treated, he has no excuse not to even try!!!! 

Having said that, if you can't let him go, don't be angry at yourself.  Life is what me make of it. 

Oh, and get a separate bank account.  You control the majority of the money and give him an allowance that you both agree on (only don't call it an allowance because he will realize you are treating him like a kid).  Let him know that your account has the majority of the money since you have to pay the bills with it.  Then, don't ask what he uses his allowance for.  Hide access to your account so he has to ask you for it if he wants something.  And be open as to what you have spent the money on. 

Trickery has always worked for my husband when he has to manage me!!!!!

Linsy's picture


I look back on my former self, that thought my husband 'never lied to me' and laugh. His whole life was a lie - he just had no concept of building a future with me at all, and no focus on his children's needs. Everything I thought he said, was me thinking he thought like me. He didn't. He was clearly trying to cope with masses of stuff in his head, and he used huge amounts of cannabis (which he lied about). Why didn't I just see it clearly? No idea. Took until 2007 after 20 years of marriage to work out there was something seriously wrong with the way he thought and acted. Although it had been going on forever. 

If you are unhappy and uncomfortable, you need to trust your feelings and look at the evidence. I think the advice to control the budget yourself is good. I wish I had closed down the joint account years ago, instead of only doing this after I managed to get him to leave. Our finances were always a mess, and he refused to earn. He took a lot of money from our business after we left - that he had had nothing to do with the earning of - justifying it to himself in convoluted ways no doubt. Another kind of lying. Above all he lies to himself that he is absolutely fine and everyone else is at fault (I mean everyone, not just me but random people like his mother's carer etc...) 

Some insight into why

Recently I came across some fascinating information about ADD and lying in the book "Answers to Distraction" by Dr. Hallowell. (A book I highly recommend for anyone searching for answers about ADHD.) It helped me understand better. When I was a kid I used to lie about all kinds of things, often things that I had no reason at all to not tell the truth about. And I knew I was lying, but I did it anyway. And always felt terrible, because I knew even as a young child that lying is bad. As I grew up, I learned much better how to control it, but I still sometimes am shocked at the random times the urge to lie pops up and at the random lies that nearly roll off my tongue without warning. Occasionally, I still can't control it, but I am acutely aware of this in myself and have spent a lifetime working to master it. Now, as a parent, my kids lie. I know that is just a part of childhood, but my second daughter in particular seems plagued by the random lying that I dealt with at her age. Anyway, I was thrilled to find this part in the book I recently read. When I saw this post topic, I felt maybe I ought to share. I hope Dr. Hallowell doesn't mind me quoting so liberally from his book.

"After having worked with many ADD adults and families, I've concluded that a fair number of ADD-ers tend to lie, and that there is a neurobiological explanation for this tendency. Because ADD-ers miss many clues in the environment, they often have to fill in the details for themselves. Sometimes this process leads to the invention of the details they missed, and to shaping scenarios that reflect these invented details but not the reality that other participants remember. The ADD-er's efforts are sincere, but due to the disability the results can seem like outrageous lying. In fact, many ADD-ers  know do know their statements may be inaccurate, but they've learned to lie in order to avoid social embarassment. For instance, they are constantly telling others that they understand what was said to them when often they don't get the message at all. James, a patient often accused of lying, said that if he were to ask 'What did you say?' or 'Could you repeat that, please?' whenever he misses information, as he does in most conversations, he is sure that no one would be able to stand talking to him.

At other times, the ADD-er simply does not remember what he himself said, what he was supposed to do, or what he promised. So he invents in order to escape humiliation or angry recrimination."

Now, having said all that, I want to also say that I don't think lying is okay. Understanding this about ADD doesn't mean I can excuse myself or my children when a lie happens. It means I can now understand why and where it is coming from better, so as to learn to gain control of it, and teach my children to better gain control of themselves. I also think it sounds like your husband's lying has gone far beyond what Dr. Hallowell is describing. Perhaps it started very early in his life and he was not taught better in a way that got through to him, or he was not caught enough, or whatever the case may be. It sounds to me, in my very unexpert opinion, that lying has just become a part of him and has spiraled so far out of control that the lines between truth and lies or even why there is a difference are no longer clear to him.

Dr. Hallowell went on to answer the question of, "Is there anything we can do to help our son stop lying?" with the following:

"The first step in any treatment plan for any ADD behavior is education. The child or adult may not be aware of the magnitude of their lying problem. Once it becomes a habit, spurred on by the biology of ADD, they stop noticing when they lie. The effect that lying now has on their life and the potential difficulty it may have for them in the future should be emphasized. A good technique is to acknowledge with the ADD adult of child that their ADD might be contributing to the chronic lying, but then to clearly indicate that it is their responsibility to monitor and correct this conduct. The ADD person with this tendency has to work extra hard to adjust this behavior just as the dyslexic reader must expend extra time, energy, and worry in trying to master their reading disability. Educating the adult or child about the possible biological contributions to their problem helps them feel less embarrassed and guilty. It encourages them to self-correct by taking a bit of the burden of "badness" off them. Next a sincere examination of the level of truthfulness in the home should be assessed. Parents and siblings need to look at whether they lie to each other, break promises, keep secrets, or say one thing and mean another. ADD-ers are extremely sensitive to cues and directions provided by their environment, thus it is crucial to make sure that the home culture is one that displays and expects truthfulness. Next, it may be necessary to alert teachers, coaches, and relatives about this tendency, as they can be enlisted to help set up the expectations that the ADD-er won't​ lie, establish clearly that lying is not acceptable behavior, and that lying will have clear and consistent consequences. Finally, medication can help the ADD-er by reducing information-processing errors and by improving their judgment and self-evaluation. Medication also allows the ADD-er to feel more comfortable and confident in general. The result can be that he has less of a need to be perfectly right all of the time."

I know some of that is aimed towards parents with children with this problem. But, I included it because maybe you can find a way to adjust that to fit your situation. Or maybe someone reading this has an ADD child with this same issue. I hope some of this helps you understand better and maybe even find some useful strategies. Maybe this information will help your ADD husband gain some better understanding and perspective. Like I said, I have struggled with this tendency my whole life. Luckily, I grew up in a home where my parents were loving and accepting, but firm in their teaching us right from wrong. I hope I can do as good with my own ADD kids who may struggle with this challenge. Best of luck to you in the challenges your husband's ADD has brought into your life and home. I admire your love and concern for him, even though I am sure it is very difficult at times.