SECRET’S CORNER: The past is the past
MANY OF US have skeletons in our closets. That is, something we have done that we prefer to forget and never talk about. And as long as it is unlikely to be revealed, then we never mention it.
When it comes to relationships, revealing certain aspects of your past can sometimes do more harm than good. For instance, your partner would feel very hurt if he or she found out you were once involved with someone who was married, a criminal, openly gay, a known player, or some scruffy-looking drug addict.
Thoughts such as “How could I ever be so stupid to ever dated him/her?” could be repeated by their partner if they found out about this.
In many cases too the fact of your involvement, though totally irrelevant to an argument you would be having, would be thrown back at you in the heat of the moment as a way to point out your poor judgement, lack of classy friends, wild history, and so on.
For this reason, many people opt not to say anything about who they were with before they became involved with their present partner. In other words, the past is just that – the past; and it should stay there.
These were some of the issues raised with the man whose call inspired this week’s question: What advice can you offer a man who recently found out that his wife of 17 years and his best man were in fact lovers when they were teenagers? He knew they were friends but neither ever said that they were once involved.
We explained to him that he really did not need to know that as it would have coloured his view of his wife and his friend. He would never be able to feel comfortable about the two of them being alone together as he might feel that the old flames would be rekindled.
In fact, just knowing the two of them were intimate could have stopped him from developing a relationship with his wife in the first place. And given that they had 17 good years together, that would definitely be his loss.
Most of those who texted, called or emailed were of the view that he “should let sleeping dogs lie”. A regular female contributor further remarked: “What you don’t know won’t hurt you. Your wife had that relationship before you and her were married, so I don’t think you should worry. Maybe she did not have the heart to look into your eyes and say, ‘Honey, your best man was my teenaged lover’.”
A man had a different view. He said women like to know everything about men’s past so they can be assured that they are the best thing that ever happened to you, and when the time comes, remind you of it. So, as far as he is concerned, this woman was purposely deceptive, and “it is possible that they could still have relations now and then; with women you never know”.
The following are edited versions of comments received:
• “There was and is nothing to tell. There were once involved – the operative word being ONCE. As long as there has not been anything going on during the course of the marriage, then he has no problem.”
• “If a woman found out her best friend and her husband were once involved, she would go ballistic.
If it was me I would not like it. So he has a right to feel she was not upfront with him.”
• “If it isn’t broken, why try fixing it?”
• “That happened so long ago. If you aren’t having problems, why bring up the past? Get over it; it was before you and, I hope, is not still going on. If this is the case, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.”
• “Men are amazing; they want to be a woman’s first but are all over the place pushing their fork in every pot. So what if she had a thing with his best man?? She had a life before he came along, and he did as well. At the end of the day, he is the better man?”
• “What was in the past should stay in the past; focus on the future. After all, she chose you.”
• “A teenage romance 17 years ago? Come on.
So much water must have flowed under the bridge since then. And yes, I’d feel the same if the roles were reversed.
The only variable would be if SHE was MY friend and slept with my man without clearing the air with me about it before he and I got married. I’d be hurt about my friend keeping a secret, not the nature of the information.”
• “The fact remains that most women are not their husband’s first lover nor expect to be, so we would hardly be worried to find out that they were lovers with one of their friends, especially if we knew them to be friends.
This is strictly a male ego thing. I’d be a bit peeved that neither of them ever told me about it at any point, but it’s so long ago that it’s nothing to fret about.
In fact, considering that the hubby seems to be in a bit of a snit about it, maybe it was for the best that they didn’t tell. If he’s worried about it now, how would he have reacted then? They may never have gotten married.”