“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
I was talking to a man, we’ll call him John, who wanted to have a smooth relationship with his wife. She was very concerned about the family budget and finances since he had recently lost his job and was now working for minimum wage and they were barely covering expenses. He had earned some extra cash doing a side job and wanted to go play the slots to turn it into a big win. He felt bad about his inability to earn his previous salary and felt like he could be a hero if he turned his $60 into hundreds.
John knew that his wife would have a fit if she knew he was gambling. He figured that what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. He convinced himself that he was not doing anything wrong as this was “found” money. He also told himself that he worked hard and it was his money and he had a right to do what he wanted.
In order to play, he’d have to plan time to go while his wife was at work and not looking for him. She had a late shift the next day, so he made his plans. Another problem was that she often called him to check on him and say hello. He would have to come up with an excuse as to why he didn’t answer the house phone. He could tell her he was outside working on the yard and missed her call. This meant that he would have to do some yard work to cover the lie.
He did end up going to the slots. He only had 30 minutes to play in order to get back home before his wife. He lost the first $20 fast, playing $2.00 a spin. His second $20 lasted a little longer as he won and lost. The third $20 was going fast also and he was down to his last $1.25 when the machine lit up and he got 15 free spins. He was back up to $47.50 at the end of his bonus round and started to up his bet, having only 5 minutes more to play and a lot of ground to make up. When he was down to $40.00 his stomach suddenly knotted up and he thought, “what am I doing?” He’d been saved from losing all his money and he was about to blow it again. It came to him that this was all wrong. He had let his fantasy about winning a jackpot cloud his thinking. He knew that the odds were against him and that the casino always won. He looked around him and saw all the people “plugged in” to their machines, pushing away like crazy, the glow from the slot machine lights creating a strange halo on their faces.
He got up and cashed out, hurrying to his car to get home. When he started down the path to lying, he had to come up with more lies to cover up. He not only had to lie about gambling and being home, he had to lie to himself that what he was doing was ok. If it was ok, then why did he have to lie about it?
When his wife arrived he told her the whole story and apologized for his temporary insanity. She was understanding and praised him for being truthful. John was so relieved that he had chosen to be truthful and that their relationship was strengthened because his wife knew that he was not able to lie to her.