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Secrecy in marriage: Protective or destructive?

Is it then appropriate for a spouse to keep the fact that he/she had a child before wedlock from his/her partner? If you were that…

Is it then appropriate for a spouse to keep the fact that he/she had a child before wedlock from his/her partner? If you were that spouse, what would be your reaction?

Alh. Yahaya Isa exclaimed, “There is no question about it, I will divorce her straight away! If she kept that from me through courtship and into marriage, it means she is deceptive and cannot be trusted. A child is a whole human being no matter what age. How long can such a secret be kept? That will mean she has many more she’s keeping away.”

Asked more questions, he said, “Such a woman is a mean and cold-hearted one. How can you be so embarrassed over a child that you carried for nine months, that you keep him in a closet? What if that is the only child she ever has in her life? Is it when push comes to shove that she’ll now want to make a declaration that she had a child somewhere?”

“I honestly don’t know what I would do, but I’m sure I’ll go into seclusion first,” said Mrs Medina Abbas. “I would be very disappointed and feel betrayed. I think it is most unfair for any man or woman to keep such a thing from a spouse. It should be declared from day one of the relationship and let the other party decide if he/she wants to go on with the relationship or not. Even saying it just before the marriage takes place, for me, is very wrong.”

Describing such a man, Abbas said, “A man who behaves like this is mean to the child, his wife and himself. First of all, it is a man’s world as they say, so it could be regarded as ‘acceptable’ if he has a child before wedlock. He doesn’t face the kind of ridicule and challenges a woman would face in the same situation. There is no reason why he should keep it away from her until after marriage or let her find out on her own.”

Mal. Ashafa Mohammed said, “I would be angry and see her as deceptive.

“But giving it more detailed thoughts,” he continues, “most times, I don’t blame a woman who keeps such a secret from her husband. In our society, the fact that you have a child outside wedlock as a woman is a stigma. That defines whether you will be a good wife and mother in your marital home. If I were in the women’s shoes, I wouldn’t let the man know until I am sure what my status is with him.”

Aisha Kagwa, a perfect example for the subject said, it won’t even happen. “From when I had my child as a 21-year-old, I advertise him as my second half before going into any relationship.” She advised that no matter what the circumstance, the man should know about such a child before the couple progresses further. “If he truly loves you, he will love your child and be willing to be a father to him or her. If he decides to judge your personality based on that and prevents himself from seeing the real you, that’s his loss not yours. He just may have denied himself the only chance God has given him to father a child.” She also said, “Even though I have been married for four years now, this is my first pregnancy in the marriage.”

Ikenna Theodore’s initial reaction would express a feeling of being mistreated and exploited. “But if it were my wife who did that to me,” he said, “I would forgive her. I would accept the child as mine and bring him/her into our home. It is not exactly an easy decision to make, but I believe the depth of love you have for your spouse could make all the difference.”

According to psychologist and relationship counsellor, Timothy Smith in his article, ‘Relationship Advice: Keeping Secrets in Marriage’, “Any psychologist will tell you that dysfunctional families and relationship difficulties usually have as an ingredient, secrecy.”  Adding that, “Perhaps this is additional confirmation of how unnatural it is for us to try to pretend that we can keep our loved ones from understanding us or vice versa. Modern psychology also informs us that confessing our secrets can mean a return to greater sanity and peace of mind and when married helps to create marriage intimacy. Our experience will show that as we confess, our confessors are rarely surprised. They often had a “feeling” or “a hunch that something was going on”.

He goes on to say that keeping secrets is constricting to our consciousness. An interesting thing happens when we pretend that we don’t know something. We get stupid. This is an obvious side-effect. The more that I decide I don’t know, the dumber I’ll get. In my experience, we each have to work out how we want to implement a new level of truth in our relationships. The human conventions of tact and “white lies” need to be understood before one starts stepping on them. Remember that the goal always is love and it should work out just fine.

When seeking for advice to relationship secrecy issues, always look into your heart and hold the other person able to step up to the plate. You may find a love relationship built on sharing your deepest secrets is a basis for marriage intimacy and trust.