Saturday, January 27, 2007

She's baaack...

So I got another question.

city girl said...

Ok, MPN, I am here again...I have been away for many a reason, but I do have another dilema, and I knew right where to go: you! Please help me with this: a friend of mine has been married for 15 years, and her husband does not know her explicit past with other men. She wanted to leave that behind her, but she says it haunts her. She knows that if she tells him, they will surely split up. They are Catholic, and she has confessed all her sins, and she is asking ME for advice, and well, I don't know what to tell her, except that she is a good person now and that all of everything she did before she met her husband is in the past, and has nothing to do with her married life.
do you agree? or did I truly mess this one up? besides, let me also ask you this: what do we do about those sins that are in the past, and let's say we don't want to tell our boyfriend about?
city girl

I am praying and thinking about this. So far an anonymous commenter left his opinion:

Anonymous said...

boy oh boy, you come over here, and you women are so deep! I love it! I am a married man, and couldn't help but read what 'city girl' had wrote up here in comments, and I agree with her, that she told her friend the right thing. If my wife told me about her behavior before we even met, why do I care? If I didn't ask here intentionally, then obviously it didn't matter to me too much, or the subject never came up. We have 5 children, and we are happy, and well, I guess I don't want to know her deepest sins: think of Mary Magdelene! I am sure she didn't tell evryone all her mortal sins, but she was a favorite of God's. Keep up the good work crazy acres- god bless you.

I am inclined to agree with our anonymous friend. I will elaborate later.

Does anyone else want to add their words of wisdom? I'll put my answer up on Monday morning, after praying about it at Divine Liturgy.

Until then...



Blogger Michelle said...

I completely agree that a woman is under no obligation to confess her past sins to her husband. If her health has been affected (she has an incurable STD or she is unable to conceive because of multiple abortions or something like that), then she needs to inform him of those facts, but not necessarily the details about what kind of life she truly led.

Now if her husband has a future in politics, her former career as a prostitute or porn star would likely come up in a high-profile election and I think it would be better if he already knew that information.

But if we're just talking about run-of-the-mill relationships with multiple partners, I don't think that he needs the details. I don't think a woman should portray herself as pure as the driven snow, but the husband should not have to help her carry her guilty burden. She can confess her sins again (telling the priest that these are already forgiven sins with which she is still grappling), and perhaps seek counseling to deal with excessive guilt.

January 28, 2007  
Blogger Matt said...

Yeesh, I dunno. Things about my past that my wife knows about (some things she just found out about some I told her) were really hard when we first got married (some still are) but I think it's good that she knows. And vice versa. We are the things we do and if your spouse doesn't know the good the bad and the ugly of you, do they really know you? Can they really help you through the things you need helping with if they don't know what your most intense struggles are?

Also, in a deeper sense, those sins we commit specifically against purity before marriage ARE sins against our future spouse. Christians entering marriage have a right to expect purity from a Christian spouse and if it's not there they need to know. These are principles that quite clear in Old Covenant law that I have no reason to think have changed in the New.

Finally (sorry I'm rambling) if we look to the archetype of all marriages (Christ and the Church) Christ knows all of the secret sins of His lover, and it is perhaps the most remarkable thing of all that He loves her anyway! If someone is going to freak out and leave you over past sins, I hate to use the modern cliche, but they don't love YOU anyway. They love some stylized romanticized version of you.

Just my two cents. Take them what they're worth and with a large grain of salt.

January 28, 2007  
Blogger onionboy said...

23 years for my beloved and I. We've never, that's never had sex with anyone but each other. It's a miracle I guess a blessing at the very least.

However, one year {back when I was a Protestant minister} my wife and I went to scope out a healing ministry that we felt might be helpful for people in our congregation by becoming participants ourselves in a five healing retreat.

Well into the week one of the sessions involved confessing to your spouse sins of the past after a half day of fasting and evaluation. The intent was to brake dividing walls, break generational and other curses and such. OK, two things.

1. I refused to take part. This was seriously frowned on and seen as evidence that I obviously was hiding sin and being dishonest with myself and my spouse. Uh huh. I did not take part because A) I confess my faults to my wife as they happen on a regular basis as they impact her / us and B) sins confessed to the Lord and to my peers {keep in mind I was not Catholic and did not have the added graces of Reconciliation) and could not see the value in dredging up something that God has place in his sea of forgetfulness.

2. I was witnessed one of the saddest things I have seen in ministry. A wife confessed to her husband that she had had fantasies of bestiality and that she had at one time had a lesbian encounter. The man did not rage as one might have expected but wept like and baby and could not look his wife in the eye for remainder of the retreat. There was no forgiveness and whatever tension was present between them when they arrived increased exponentially. I later learned that their marriage dissolved, she "left" the Lord and their children were damaged as a result of this thing that I believe would not have touched them otherwise.

I understand that what I have written here is anecdotal and not a good doctrinal treatment of the question. I do not offer it as advice but only as one approach to the question.

January 28, 2007  
Anonymous Very Rev. Fr. Gregori said...

As an Orthodox Catholic priest, I would say that Michelle is correct. As far as past sins go, once those sins have been cofessed and there has been true repentance, then they are done and over with as far as our Lord is concerned.

Couples who seem to feel a need to tell their spouces everthing from their past, are really asking for trouble. I have learned from experience (not personal) that those who do so, either:

A. Never confessed to begin with or confessed but never felt true repentance.

B. Will tell their spouces out of a perverted need to get some type of reaction from their mate, such as wanting to know, "Does he/she really love me?"

C. Sometimes they will do it just to hurt their spouce to get even for a real or imagined wrong doing or slight on the part of their spouce.

So my advice is: "What is in the past should be kept in the past, especially if you have already confessed it and received absolution. If you haven't confessed it or if you confessed it but without true repentance, and you feel driven by a need to tell someone, talk to your priest first.

Bless you and I hope this helps.

January 28, 2007  
Anonymous gsk said...

I see that the advice already given is very good and endorse the ideas that confessed sins need to be left in the past.

I would like to add that this may be a particular temptation from YKW, knowing that he cannot attack your otherwise strong marriage in any other way than by planting perverse seeds of harmful disclosure. Try renouncing the thoughts through the Blood of Jesus, and perhaps give alms (or a gift of self) in reparation for them. Take from your mistakes (fully repented now) the wisdom that they shed on your future actions, and praise God for knowing Him.

I really think this is a test just to rattle your Godly cage. Renounce it and move on. Blessings!

January 28, 2007  
Blogger Cris said...

Forgiveness can not be given unless it is asked for-and in this case, she has asked for forgiveness from the One whom she sinned against-God. I personally went to confessions years ago with my past (it is not as dark as it sounds) and I got half way through the confession and my priest stopped me and told me that I was fogiven, that God knew what was in my heart and that I should never confess those sins again-because I am wiped clean of them. I found GREAT comfort in this. Confession is a great and healing sacrament-she has been forgiven, she needs to accept that forgiveness and bask in the pure love that she shares with her husband.

January 28, 2007  
Blogger Shushan said...

Wow! That is a deep question. So far everything I've read from your blog MPN, and those here makes good sense to me.

As long as she is honest about her past life - as long as she doesn't pretend to be something she wasn't, I would not necessarily deem it wise or necessary to dredge up her past in detail.

OTOH - If she has a lingering condition -physical or mental - that will impact her future life with him, he has a right to know about it before they marry.

My husband and I did actually tell each other about our pasts in detail before marrying - and its prevented attempted 'shocks' by others since then - but it did make some scenes in the next few years tougher than they had to be. I think its actually easier to hear how badly your beloved screwed up back in the day when you've had at least a few years of experience with them trying to live well at your side.

Since she is already worried about it, I STRONGLY advise good spiritual counseling before this couple marries. IMHO - If she goes into this marriage feeling guilty because she hasn't been 'honest enough,' HE is gonna wonder why she feels that way.

January 28, 2007  
Blogger erin said...

If this woman truly believes that her marriage is at stake over this issue, I wouldn’t be quick to advise her to dump out all the secrets of her past just yet. It seems to me that if, after fifteen years of marriage, she isn’t secure enough to be completely honest with her husband, their marriage is most certainly not healthy enough to climb a spiritual mountain such as this.

What I find most disturbing here, however, is the general lack of concern for the fact that in a generally healthy relationship, it is better to climb the mountain. Certainly, this woman is not obligated to confess her sins to her husband in order to find forgiveness from God; but what she IS obligated to do—what we are ALL obligated to do, as married Christians—is to create a picture of Christ and His Church the best that we can. When we said our vows on our wedding day, we became one flesh. My burdens are no longer my own, but my husband’s as well. That’s what marriage is FOR! And, as good Christians know, the hard things in life are the things that make us stronger. To say that it’s better for any married person to carry their shame within themselves because “they’d rather not deal with all the hurt and anger” or that complete honesty only exists in the “ideal” marriage, sounds extremely lazy to me. Our marriages will never be ideal, but it shouldn’t be for lack of trying.

In my opinion, this woman and her husband are in an unhealthy marriage, staring at a mountain and realizing they’d better see a doctor before they climb it.

January 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would follow the old adge "What the eye does not see the heart does not grieve over" What is in the past should stay there and most of us are like the ones Jesus said let he who is without sin throw the first stone. I have things in my past that are my business not my husbad and the same for him. As long as your friend is faithful and true to her husband now that is all that matters. Why stir up trouble

February 05, 2007  

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