Secrets: What happened in the past, stays in the past – right?



Dr. Dar Hawks

Scott Asks:

Secrets: What happened in the past, stays in the past – right?

My wife is threatening to divorce me. She’s accusing me of
having an affair with a woman at work – we’ll call her
Kristen. It’s not true. I’ve been married for about a year
and a half and we dated for two years prior. Before I met her, I
did date this woman Kristen for about a year – but that was
several years before I even met my wife. Kristen is single and
we’ve worked at the same company for the last 12 years.

I never told my wife about my dating Kristen – but somehow she
found out. I don’t think I have to tell my wife everything
I’ve done or am doing in my life. It had no bearing on my
dating and/or marrying her. She’s accusing me of keeping
secrets and is demanding I give her a rundown of my past.
What’s the big deal? It’s not a secret. It’s just something
I chose not to share because it’s irrelevant. I love my wife. I
don’t have affairs and never would.

My question: What’s healthy for couples when it comes to their
pasts? Is there anything wrong with keeping secrets from your
partner? I’m not hurting her or me or anyone. And, I do resent
the fact that she’s throwing this in my face as I’ve never
asked her to give me the details on her past dating/sexual
history. Any thoughts?


Dr. Dar Says:


Dear Scott,

It must be very difficult to be accused of such a thing. Your wife feels threatened because she found out from someone other than her husband, contributing to additional feelings of distrust.  Since you potentially are in contact with your ex at work combined with her discovering the ‘secret’, her need to know everything about your past is exacerbated.  One thing I know for sure, in a marriage, there should not be any secrets; secrets are uncovered over time and the truth does come out somehow.  My husband and I have an agreement that the details of my past escapades before I met him are a topic that neither of us needs to discuss detail; he knows that I had a lot of experience before I met him and I am very open with him.  Because I am not defensive and am open to sharing with him, he is not threatened.  The fact is that a secret was kept and discovered by someone other than you leading to your wife’s need to know more.  She was blindsided, and now is reacting out of preservation, maybe wanting to ensure that no more surprises occur.  You should compassionately listen to your wife, reassure her by letting her know you love her and married her, there is no one else but her AND answer her questions like an open book.  Otherwise, you are sending signals that you have something to hide which will cause more conflict in the long run.

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