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SECRETS’ CORNER: The truth can hurt

Sanka Price

SECRETS’ CORNER: The truth can hurt

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A relationship should be based on honesty. But the truth about a partner’s past is not always easy to handle. In fact, when the truth is revealed it can sometimes cause discord, distrust and disillusionment where moments earlier there was harmony.
Such a case occurred between a couple recently. The man often spoke about his troubled past but never went into detail. He was particularly good at advising young men on how they should channel their anger and not waste their opportunities.
He spoke from the heart because he had been on remand on a drug charge. For nearly seven months he lived behind bars at the now abandoned Glendairy Prisons and had his life controlled by prison warders. Because of this experience, he turned his back on criminal activity when he got off of his charge. He learnt a trade, and 16 years later is a small businessman. He is also a responsible, caring father and loving partner.
Recently, though, this all unravelled when he and his fiancée were watching the prison drama Shawshank Redemption. His fiancée asked him if he was ever attacked by men for sex while in prison. He told her no, but disclosed that he and his “boys” took advantage of people. As he explained what he meant, she became disgusted. She could not handle the truth.
Though this incident occurred nearly two weeks ago, her anguished voice on the telephone demonstrated just how devastated she was at finding out the truth about her partner’s former life. This is the basis of this week’s question: What would you do if you found out that the man you love, have a child for and plan to marry had sexual relations before with men when he was in prison?
Those who commented on this case were divided. Some said that she should forget it and move on with their life together while others cautioned her that a man who does such things never really changes.
“She is being silly; the past is the past. If the man is good to her and as long as he does not do anything like that now, then she should enjoy him,” said one female caller who thinks she should continue with the relationship.
Conversely, another woman stated: “Men who do that sort of thing to other men are dirty. They don’t change. She should leave him now before they get deeper into anything.”Our view is that when an individual confesses without intimidation or threat of violence about doing something that is considered morally wrong, that usually suggests they are sincere. As such, they should be heard.
This man clearly wants to start his marital life with a clean slate and has revealed something that the average person would want to hide. He was either incredibly stupid or genuinely honest in doing this.
I believe the latter.
My suggestion to her therefore was to talk with him to ensure that he not only does not have sex with men any longer, but that he also does not have the urge to do so. She should judge him on the man he is with her and use their life together to date as the barometer to gauge him as an individual, friend and lover. Becoming hysterical over something that happened years ago when the man had a different mindset and was clearly a misguided youth makes no sense now. What matters now is who he is, what he stands for, and how he demonstrates day in and day out that his past is way behind him.
The following are the edited version of comments:  
 “Do like a bottle of Johnnie Walker – keep on walking.”
 “That man has too much baggage. Keep on looking. You know what they say – men are like buses; another one is coming in a little while.”
 “Everyone knows what goes on behind prison bars. His sexual encounters in jail were just his way of surviving there. Everybody has skeletons in their closet. He loves you, you love him? So what the heck – everybody deserves to be happy. He’ll probably be more faithful to you than most men are to their spouses.”
 “I agree that everyone deserves to be happy regardless of their past. Get tested; if everything is okay and both participants trust each other and are happy, then I see no problem.”
 “Anybody can make a mistake, but when they are caught and punished, they deserve a second chance. Give the man a chance.”