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Book Excerpt: 'Lies at the Altar'

ByABC News via logo
May 23, 2006, 1:44 PM

May 24, 2006 — -- Dr. Robin L. Smith is perhaps best-known for her appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

She specializes in relationships and stresses how important it is for people to enter marriage only after looking at oneself honestly.

Truth, Smith says, is the most important ingredient in marriage, and her book, "Lies at the Altar: The Truth About Great Marriages," teaches people how to find it within themselves and their partner.

"Lies at the Altar" by Dr Robin L. Smith

"Truth is powerful, and it prevails."-- Sojourner Truth


True to Myself

Let me begin with the truth. I have known what it is to live a lie -- to want so badly to keep a relationship that I made myself invisible. I have known the exhaustion of trying to hold up a facade that has no foundation. So in this book, I will not be speaking from an elevated position. I will not be telling you what I think but what I know.

Truth is what holds my life together now. It is not an accessory. It is a necessity. As with a credit card, I never leave home without it. But I walked through the darkness of lies to get there. I would like to spare the pain of every woman who fears that she can have love only if she erases her needs and makes herself small. I would like to shout it from the rooftops and mountain peaks that truth is better, warmer, stronger. It is the only way to have a great marriage or a great relationship.

I was once in a long relationship with a man whose addiction ruled our lives. The breakup was devastating and deeply painful. But even more painful than leaving was facing the truth of why I had stayed for so long. Why I had remained with a man whose love and loyalty were devoted to his addictions. Why I had lied to myself while enabling his lies to flourish. As his lies blossomed, I was being killed softly. Life -- real living -- had stopped for me. The self I thought I had was evaporating. I was slowly but surely fading away. I no longer recognized myself -- and how could I? I was no longer there.

Each day I laid out his disguise for him, made certain his false front was neatly in place, his cover-up richly textured, logical, and foolproof. I allowed him to lie to me about who he really was and what he really valued, and I stood by while he lied to everyone who thought they knew him so well.

Being with this man almost killed me -- almost crushed my bright and resilient spirit and tampered with my sturdy and robust mind. He wanted to rob me of my very essence, and for a long time I let him. Where was I in my life that I could have devoted so much time, energy, and effort to a man who neither honored nor valued me? How had I, a highly trained professional with what I thought were nearly flawless intuitive skills, become involved with such an impostor?