Along with love, trust is one of most important requirements of a happy married life. You may have enough love for the both of you but when lies and half-truths eat away at the foundations, the whole relationship can collapse. And yet your past is your own matter and rarely someone else’s business. So how much of your past do you really need to disclose to your partner when getting married?
About previous relationships
High-school sweethearts getting married and more importantly remaining married for the rest of their lives now seem only the stuff of romantic fiction. In real life, it is likely that you – like your fiancé – will have had a few relationships before deciding that this time it is for keeps. It is not necessary that you count all your exes on your fingers either to satisfy your partner’s curiosity or to underline your own popularity. Neither it is required that you give a detailed description of your past sexual exploits. For most part, it is enough that he/she know that you have been in previous relationships but are now ready for greater commitment. However if you are divorced and if you have children from a previous marriage, it is essential that your partner know about it. Because in such cases, you may have to continue to fulfill certain responsibilities of a parent or a former spouse. It is also possible you have to meet certain obligations like alimony and child support. Your future spouse should know about such aspects of your past since they are going to determine how much time and resources you can invest in your impending marriage.
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Medical history is usually a sensitive matter because of which doctors are bound by professional ethics not to reveal such details about their patients. But what if your fiancée wishes to know about your medical past. It is better to share the basic facts of any physical or psychological condition that you may have been treated for in the past. This is not only so that when married and living together, your partner can avoid triggers and conditions which could bring about your relapse into ill-health but also so that both of you can continue to follow a healthy lifestyle. Also it would be easier for your partner to understand side effects and diet restrictions if you are honest about your medication or any particular course of treatment that you are still continuing. More pertinently you should disclose any conditions – past and present – which could impact the health of your sex life or future children. In fact intentional hiding of certain conditions like impotency could even become a ground of divorce should your spouse come to know of it later and decide that he/she has been cheated. Likewise if you have had a history of alcohol or substance abuse or even a run in with the law, it is important that your partner should be aware of these before marriage.
Along with sex and infidelity, money features as the major reason for marital conflicts and divorce. It is only natural that your betrothed would want to know about your job and pay-scale since it would determine the kind of lifestyle you both can afford after marriage. But along with that you should also be clear about any other financial obligations you may have – for instance repaying college loans or paying alimony to an ex-wife which may have a bearing on the earnings and expenses of your future family. If your credit rating is already very low, it may not be possible for you to take a mortgage on another house with your new spouse. However you need not provide details of all your assets and bank accounts to the person you are engaged too, especially if you have been earning that money much before the time you knew your present partner. While it is expected that your betrothed would have an approximate idea of your net worth, you are under no compulsion to disclose complete details of all your assets.
It is always best if you let in on your fiancé about the dynamics of your family, if nothing else, at least to avoid confusion and embarrassment. One of your siblings may have been adopted or you may have a step-parent; if your partner knows nothing of these then not only he/she will be in danger of making a faux pas in front of everybody else but maybe even feel hurt at being kept out of the family circle. After all a marriage is not simply a union of two individuals but also a bonding of two different families. At the same time, intimate details about your family members like a sister having been abused as a child or an uncle’s traumatic experience in the combat zone need not be shared with a partner, especially if you feel that he/she will not be able to understand the complexities of the situation.
Along with determining what to disclose about your past to your betrothed, it is also important to consider how to do it and with what purpose in mind. For instance if you merely reveal that your banker ex was a jerk, you will not be helping much. Rather if you reveal that the loser went to numerous family dinners and yet never remembered to call your mom on her birthday, you will be letting your present boyfriend know two things: one that you have dated successful people and second, that being rich doesn’t always mean being partner-material which is why he should not forget to wish your mom ‘Happy Birthday’ – ever. Then again if you wish to share your past battle with the bottle you can say something like, “after having beaten alcoholism I now know that there are no short-cuts to feeling good”. This not only implies that you have successful defeated alcoholism but that you respect values like hard work and good sense.