“By telling a lie, the liar in effect informs his partner that he fears and depends on him and wishes to please him: this reassures the recipient of the lie that he has some control over the liar and therefore need not fear losing him. At the same time, by accepting the lie without challenging it, the person lied to informs the liar that he, too, needs the relationship and wants to preserve it. In this way, each participant exchanges truth for control, dignity for security. Marriages and other "intimate" human relationships often endure on this basis.
As against such secure though often humiliating arrangements, relationships based on truthful communications tend to be much more vulnerable to dissolution. This accounts for the ironic but intuitively widely understood fact that bad marriages are often much more stable than good ones. I use the words "good" and "bad" here to refer to such values as dignity, honesty, and trustworthiness, and their opposites. The continuation of a marriage or its dissolution by divorce, as mere facts, codifies only the legal status of a complex human relationship; it conveys no information whatever about the true character of the relationship. This is one reason why it is so hopelessly naïve and foolish to regard -- as psychiatrists often do -- contracting or sustaining a marriage as a sign of successful game playing -- that is, as a sign of maturity of mental health; and dissolving a marriage by separation or divorce as a sign of unsuccessful game playing -- that is, as a sign of immaturity or mental illness.”