This article was triggered by a conversation with a friend who shared with me a rather sad story.
There’s a couple out there who’ve been married for around two years. They literally have not had sex since they got married. Why? The man discovered that his wife had undergone female genital mutilation but had never disclosed this fact to him. He felt betrayed. Why hadn’t she told him? What had made her withhold such info? He just could not bring himself to getting intimate with her.
This story begs questions.
Just how much can you share with your future partner or current spouse about your past, about things that happened to you or things that you did, which, as a result, make you now live in regret, in disappointment or even guilt?
When should you share these issues? How do you even go about it? Is there any value in speaking about them? Is it better to forget the past and work on the present, especially if you cant do anything to change what happened? Many actually grapple with such questions. What would be the impact of a past life in the present or future, especially in the context of relationships?
A situation like for the couple above may be deemed a little bit obvious, because it could be physically recognizable. True, it may be hard to hide certain things, for instance, a child, certain addictions, etc.
How about matters that may not be evident, pronounced, clear-cut or even easily detectable to anyone around? Life-threatening diseases or adultery? Barrenness, gambling or pornography? What about a previous marriage, an abortion, abandonment or giving up a child for adoption? Children born outside a marriage, relationships where one was sexually active or even traumatic experiences like sexual violence?
Should you tell your spouse or your future spouse everything? I mean, like everything about your life?
One way of looking at it is to let sleeping dogs lie. What’s in the past is in the past. Some state that saying the truth in certain instances may not be beneficial for the relationship. Disclosure may end up leaving the parties truly aggrieved and the relationship or marriage in limbo. Others note that since there is nothing you can do to change those situations or experiences, not talking about them may be advisable.
On the other hand, one who fails to disclose info may end up struggling with guilt or shame and, therefore, may not be able to be emotionally, physically or spiritually present. This can end up denying the spouse an opportunity to experience life with you in a genuine manner. In such a scenario, non disclosure may be deemed as not fair. It is argued that intimacy is increased when a couple shares secrets about their past.
Let’s be honest. Many do fear disclosing all facts pertaining to their past lives due to the fact that they may be embarrassed about those particular situations. And that is a cold, hard reality. The fear is real. A spouse could be greatly hurt especially if this has happened in the course of the relationship.
However, one writer stated the following: “Think about the other person, not just yourself, and do what is best for them. If you are holding back yourself in any way from your spouse, they need, and deserve, to know why. Knowing what the problem is nearly always carries less pain and fear than wondering what the problem is.”
Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. John 8.32. God’s Word is the truth. And if you get to know God’s Word, it shall set you free from whatever situation, whatever fear, you find yourself in or are faced with. It shall guide you on whether to disclose the matter or not.
If you have been asked whether a particular matter has taken place, it would be best to answer truthfully. An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Proverbs 24.26.
Picture this. What if your spouse found out or could perhaps find out this information through any means possible? Look at this example. Children or wives who appear out of the woods upon a spouse’s demise. The bereaved are left grappling with both the loss of a loved one and shock of learning of the existence of persons they were never made aware of, that were closely related to the deceased.
It would be best if the information was coming from you rather than from another source.
How do you go about transparency?
On the dating front, if you are seriously considering marriage, it would be best to come clean and give the other person the option to make a choice about you. Apply discretion as you make the disclosure, e.g. you can state that you are not a virgin without going into details. Counseling, for instance premarital, should help you assess if it is worth proceeding with the relationship. The effects of a broken engagement may be better or easier to deal with than those of a broken marriage.
Sin, when committed in marriage, should be disclosed to your spouse. If adultery has taken place, it is a violation of vows made by the couple to each other and it would be best disclosed. Keeping an affair a lie so as to avoid hurting your spouse may actually work against you in the long run. The aftermath could be harder to deal with. Other issues that should be disclosed in marriage include financial debt, wrong use of family finances, addictions or challenges with work, like the loss of a job. This list is not exhaustive.
Do everything out of love. Pray earnestly about these matters before you disclose.
Many of the issues we struggle hiding from others arise as a result of sin in our lives. I thank God that when we confess our sins, He forgives us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. That is reassuring.
It is also important to note that being forgiven does not mean that we won’t experience some form of punishment for our sins, as God doesn’t take sin lightly. We may have to endure the consequences of our transgressions.
Honesty though is a great foundation for our relationships. It may be hard, or even painful to disclose information that can hurt. But it’s important to let your loved one know the truth. The aftermath may not be easy, but no one is perfect. Certainly no one.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18