EFFECTS OF INSINCERITY IN MARRIAGE
Insincerity has numerous effects on the marriage institution. Its effects are felt by the individual who becomes the instrument, by the partner or immediate family members who become the direct victims of lies, by those around the insincere person and by the marriage itself. Let us take the effects one after the other.
Loss of self worth: Self worth, self integrity, self respect, self regard or self esteem is something every individual cherishes. Many early theories in psychology suggested that self-esteem is a basic human need or motivation. Psychologists define it as the reflection of a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth; a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. The American psychologist Abraham Maslow described two aspects of self esteem: the need for respect from others and the need for self respect. According to him, respect from others entails recognition, acceptance, status, and appreciation, and was believed to be more fragile and easily lost than inner self-esteem. Going by that premise, insincerity depletes a person’s self worth in both the family and community. In marriage, it makes a person lose her dignity and respect. The moment a person is perceived to be insincere in marriage, his/her reputation begins to drop. If she is a wife, she loses her trust and confidence from the husband, mother in law, brothers and sisters in law and begins to receive bashings from all corners. She is tossed around like rag, insulted by both great and small of the family members. An insincere husband also is a cheap person in the face of his in-laws. The insincere person’s negative reputation also affects the impression of others about his/her spouse. Sometimes the partner is not taken seriously since he/she is believed to be a potential liar because of his/her daily contact with the spouse. The insincere husband/wife can rarely be consulted in serious matters in the family. He/she lacks integrity.
Inner sadness: “Sin”, the bible maintains, “speaks to the sinner in the depth of his heart” (Ps. 36: 1). Christ’s injunctions are, “If you make my word your home, you will be my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And He continued, “In all truth I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now a slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it for ever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free” (John 8: 31-36). The greatest sadness is the sadness of the soul, inner sadness. While thinking of the impression others might have of a liar, it is worse to conceive of the harm which the insincere spouse does to himself. He/she lacks inner peace. He gets scared always. He is afraid of the next moment. He is always apprehensive of what may happen if his mountain of lies collapses. The insincere partner sleeps with one eye open imagining what would happen if the lies fail him. When for instance we wish someone to sleep like a baby, it means literally to say to the person, “Have an uninterrupted sleep”. The reason is because babies harbor no ill thoughts and fear nothing in their sleep. Fulton Sheen described the experience thus, “Children do not have this duplicity because they are natural and it is acquired. If their mother tells them to tell a stranger at the door that she is not at home, they will invariably say, ‘My mother told me to tell you that she is not at home” (Sheen, F., Way to Inner Peace, p.77). Those who harbor lies in their hearts and conceive it for their marriage partners do not know inner peace. They are tormented by an internal sadness.
Inconsistency: A major characteristic of lie is inconsistency. Because it is always concocted and manipulated to suit the liar, lies are usually rehearsed several times to avoid any leakage. The insincere spouse is always inconsistent in his/her dealings. His statements are always filled with gaps and loopholes.
Fear: Since the insincere person is not sure of the security of his statements, he is always afraid. For instance, a wife who told her husband she was going to Lagos while she went to Abuja is afraid of certain factors that might intervene to soil her game. Let us presume that her journey would be safe. She is however afraid of the chances that some persons who know her could spot her without letting her know and the tendency to intimate the husband may not be ruled out. Imagine also the situation whereby a woman connives with the family’s mechanic as an avenue to extort money from the husband. At some point the mechanic started making strange demands from her. She was infuriated with the young man and threatened to relieve him of the opportunities of working for the family. The mechanic in turn threatened to expose her before the husband and told her emphatically to choose between throwing him off or facing the troubles of the husband coming to know she’s been ripping him off through some unorthodox means. The said woman was in dilemma but you could guess what the likely action would be as the better alternative in such dicey situation.
Infection of children: The Igbo adage holds that the kid watches the mother keenly as she consummately chews her cud. The same applies in family situations. A father or mother who habitually tells lies unconsciously corrupts the children. The scripture says, “Train up the child in the way he should go, when he grows old he will never depart from it” (Prov. 22: 6). The worst thing a man/woman could do would be to indoctrinate their children in the vice of insincerity. The first danger is that the same parents would be the principal victims of such evil from their children. Then they will end up proliferating lies in the society since such habit would not end up in the family.
Corrosion of marriage: When at the exchange of consent the couples promise to be true to each other, the implication is that anything on the contrary simply negates the promise of fidelity and sincerity. Insincerity destroys the fabrics of marital union. It corrodes love, trust, mutual understanding and affection. It breeds mistrust and attracts shame to the family. The insincere partner can indeed be unfaithful.
Tension: Any relationship that is anchored on lies is always filled with tension. The couple who lives in lies lives in tension. The Psalmist echoes, “Those who chose other gods increase their sorrows” (Ps. 16: 4). This is the situation of the man/woman of lies. Such a spouse is afraid of calls, afraid of the contacts the partner makes as any of these could implicate him before the partner. He/she lives in constant tension.
Insensitivity: In every relationship, especially in marriage, there are tiny actions we might consider insignificant. That’s why some lies or acts of insincerity may also be regarded as minor and unharmful to one’s partner. For instance, a lady could dress in an unappealing manner and appear before the husband. By the taste and standard of such lady, she imagines that she is really very attractive and scintillating. She emerges before the husband expecting him to say, “Wow, you look good!” It would be most unfair for the man to condemn outrightly the woman with such high expectation. The man could acknowledge her at that time but find a way to make her understand that the dress she was putting on was not the one he admired for such occasion. Similar things happen also in the taste of a woman’s food. These do not mean that the man was being insincere. They rather portray his sensitivity and accommodation. This is not the same as when a woman for some reasons begins to pilfer from the husband and forms the habit of telling him lies. Often times all the inmates of the home become suspects while actually the mother of the house is the culprit. It can also happen that a woman cooks up stories to suit the husband with regard to her whereabouts and does that repeatedly given the husband’s strictness. The danger here is that such “minor” lies can make the person lose sense of the gravity of telling lies. It can lead to general insensitivity or loss of the consciousness of sin.
Hatred from God: God hates lies. The case of Ananias and Sapphira is a typical example of the consequences of telling lies. Insincerity is unfairness and injustice. The Psalmist depicts God as saying, “I act with integrity of heart within my royal court. I do not allow into my presence anyone who speaks perversely. Whoever acts shamefully I hate; no such person is my friend” (Ps. 101: 2-3). In the book of Proverbs we are meant to understand that, “there are six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to him; Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet that hurry to evil, the false witness that utters lies and one who sows dissension among brothers” (Prov. 6: 16-19). A man/woman in the habit of insincerity to his/her spouse lives in sin. It is cheating as well offence against love and justice. God hates sin.