This article grew out of a Forum discussion called “You Discover your SO has a big secret. What do you do?”
Everyone has secrets. Some are less significant than others, and some have no significance at all.
Many people have the notion that marriage, whether legal or common law, instantly destroys all barriers and every idea, event, action and dream is to be shared.
As human beings living in a dynamic environment there are no commercial breaks.
Now things are happening and there isn’t time to stop Now to go back to Then and dump a hodgepodge of ‘revelations’.
Further, many incidents in the past might have long lost any relevance.
The Deep Dark Secret
Andrea married Oscar seven years ago. They’ve lived as happily as any other married couple. Yesterday, Andrea learned that Oscar had been in Prison.
At the age of eighteen Oscar went to prison for (fill in any kind of crime you desire). He came out of prison at the age of 24 and got a job, went to night school, got a better job, and he was twenty nine when Andrea met him at a Football match.
Their first conversations concerned the action on the Pitch, then various World Cups and they arranged a date for another Match.
After the second match they went to some crazy sports bar where they had a fantastic time, laughing and being so happy in each others company.
Their third date was dinner and they didn’t leave the restaurant until it closed because Andrea had a very exciting job and did most of the talking.
The fourth date was to her sister’s wedding, and he met her family and there were lots of discussions and connections, and he fit in very well.
They had so much to talk about, so many NOW events that when they were married he didn’t know what High School she had attended or that she’d broken her arm at summer camp, or that her cousin had died in a car accident.
During the seven years of their marriage they talked about where they should live, having children, whether to get a new car, on and on, constant NOW conversations with an eye on Tomorrow.
Now, after seven years and two children, and a mortgage which they were struggling to pay, and a dying mother and a sick dog and the neighbours, Andrea finds out that eleven years before she met Oscar he’d gone to prison.
What Does She do?
Now the question is should Oscar have told her; with the addition of when.
There are those who believe that having gone to prison years before he met Andrea ought have been in the front of his mind when they began to date.
There are those who feel he ought have interrupted her during their first dinner to inform her of this non sequitur.
Of course, that would presuppose that having been to prison was so much a part of him five years after release that he would be thinking about it.
And the question here is why?
Why with so much happening NOW with eyes on Tomorrow would he be dwelling in the past?
They weren’t alone on a deserted island, in therapy, having arguments over communication, they were fully alive and things were happening each day, things that occupied their thoughts.
So Andrea finds out that eleven years before she met him, that is eighteen years ago, her husband had gone to Prison.
What should she do?
There are those who believe a confrontation is required. Jump up in his face and attack with the; “Why didn’t you tell me?” Which, of course, has no answer, or more properly, no acceptable answer in that milieu.
To ask the question in that form would have a deleterious effect on the relationship.
It might end the marriage, for Andrea would think;
“Oscar lied to me by silence! I don’t know him!”
Oscar, who has lived a happy life with Andrea, who could go day to week to year dealing with what was Now in recognition of tomorrow would be flung back to those times and that place so that the "New Oscar", the one who for twelve years was a thoroughly decent law abiding citizen, a loving husband, would be destroyed.
The Wiser Move
The better move for Andrea is not to react.
Push it to the back of her mind and let the subject come up in conversation almost accidentally.
For example, watching a show about prison and Andrea casually says,
“This doesn't seem authentic...?” in an off hand voice.
This would allow Oscar to respond either in the belief Andrea had known all along and it didn’t matter to her, or that their relationship was at such a level that he could mention it to her.
Her response would alert him that this is not news, and he might ask, "When did you know?" And she could shrug and say she isn't certain.
This would, of course, increase his love for her. He could empty his heart without accusation, and be allowed to explain, in his own words without feeling judged on why he never told her.
The relationship would continue on a stronger footing for he would know that this woman could be trusted for she had been aware and never pressured him, never used the knowledge.
Other kinds of Secrets
This kind of secret is in sharp contrast to those which are deal breakers.
Maude and Stan lived together for three years before she gave birth to his son.
Now someone mentions his wife.
Maude never knew Stan was married.
They became involved and there was no hint that he was committing adultery.
Now that she’s the mother of his bastard she learns of this wife.
How could he have not told her?
Yes, he doesn’t have to tell the postman, he doesn’t have to tell the barber because
he isn’t in a sexual relationship with them. But before he took Maude to bed the first
time she had to be told. Not telling her, continuing until the birth of a child, can be distinguished from the case of Oscar and Andrea.
In this case, the fact Stan was married was a vital and constant companion to his
relationship with Maude.
Demanding answers, taking him to Court to get supportance is required of Maude,
and never trusting him again can be expected.
The only way 'out' would be if this was one of those 'business marriages' .
We all have a past.
There are things we never think about because they happened in the Past. So that sixty five year old guy in a business suit might have protested the war in Vietnam and gone to jail.
That church sister in her fifties might have been an unpaid whore sleeping with every man who asked her before she was twenty.
Things happen in life and people move on.
The past is the past.
In many cases, as in Oscar and Andrea, there is no connection.
A girl of fourteen might have gotten pregnant, got an abortion, finished High School, gone to University, gained a profession.
She doesn’t think about that event, it’s long gone and buried so that when she marries at the age of 24 is there any reason why it should come up?
And if she never tells her husband should he jump in her 44 year old face about;
‘You kept this from me?’
When you learn a secret, think ;
Does this effect me NOW.
Focus on Now.
Focus on your life, your relationships
in this moment.
People make mistakes.
If what you've just discovered has no
bearing on your life NOW, let it go.