The other day I asked my wife whether she thought I had put on some weight. She answered, "Yeah, maybe a little." Then she laughed, jiggled one of my love handles and walked out of the room, calling out, "But I still love you!"

Like that helps.

I was bothered on so many levels that I could only babble incoherently as I readjusted my pants and patted down my handles. But the thing that surprised me even more than her remark and flab jostling was that she hadn’t been slightly tempted to lie in order to spare my feelings.

Could it be? Was it even possible? Could my wife actually be unfamiliar with Marital Strategy No. 259, which for centuries has helped couples avoid all sorts of uncomfortable truths and unpleasant conflicts? This strategy is commonly known as "the white lie," and a time comes in every marriage when each spouse is tempted to tell one. My wife didn’t even try.

In fact, a lot of times I’d like my wife to lie to me. When I complain that the dry cleaners keep shrinking my pants, I want my wife to agree and promise to talk to them about it. When I say that I think my new shampoo is growing my hair back, I want my wife to look at my scalp and ooh and aah at the veritable forest of growth. When I tell her that I think I resemble Brad Pitt, I want her not to double over laughing.

An unscientific poll

The fact that my wife could so easily dismiss the white lie led me to wonder whether men and women have different standards. So, in the interest of research, I took my own scientific poll (I asked my wife and friends) and proved conclusively that men are indeed more prone to tell white lies than women are.

This might be because men are afraid of telling their wives the truth. Why? Because the truth will lead to talking, and talking will lead to an explanation, and an explanation will lead to an argument, and an argument will lead to tears, and tears will lead to more talking. So men often default to the white lie.

The three basic categories of white lies that men tell their wives:

  • Looks – "You look exactly the same as when we got married. You haven’t gained any weight at all. Your clothes fit exactly the same, and having a desk job only makes you thinner."
  • Women – "There are no good-looking women on the planet other than you. That’s what I’m guessing, of course. I wouldn’t actually know because I haven’t noticed any women at all since I married you."
  • Everything else – "Your cooking is great. You drive perfectly. Your parents are wonderful people. Your feet aren’t cold. I like watching chick flicks."

Something better than lies

With all the trouble men go through, you’d think wives would at least make some effort to return the favour. But no, my wife has to go with the truth. I asked her about this, and she told me the truth is much better because she doesn’t care how much I weigh or whether I have hair.

I liked the sound of that, but I thought I’d test her. "Are you telling me you wouldn’t prefer that I looked like Brad Pitt?"

"I’m telling you that you don’t have to look like Brad Pitt for me to love you, and I’d rather be married to you than to Brad Pitt any day," she replied.

I concluded that my wife had stumbled upon something even more powerful than the white lie – love. She told me the truth in love, and I liked it.

Now I just need to learn how to do the same when she asks me about her driving.

Charles Marshall is a comedian and author.

© 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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