When you learn how to deal with your husband’s past secrets and old relationships, you hold the key to freedom and joy – not to mention a happy marriage! These tips are inspired by two readers who are coping with their partners’ past lives and decisions; they’ll help you accept your husband for who he is and move forward in your life.
“I’m 27, my husband is 33…I found out about the vasectomy he had during his previous marriage when we were on our honeymoon,” says BB on How to Cope With Your Husband’s Secret Vasectomy. “I was absolutely devastated, still am. He was married before and has 3 children. He loves them, but he doesn’t want more. He says he is willing to get a reversal, but is taking his time in doing so. I have attempted to discuss other options but he gets upset and the conversation ends…I am trying to be understanding but I feel betrayed. He says he will get the reversal in a few months when work slows down a little, but I’m nervous he won’t. I don’t want a divorce, I made the vow until death do we part…but I’m having trouble dealing with my husband’s secret and past. I absolutely adore my husband so I am trying to live with the idea of not having children. It burns my soul a little, I have miscarried, and since then I have wanted to give life. He knew that. Any advice how to cope or how to talk to him would be appreciated.”
Learning that your husband had a major surgical procedure in the past – and deliberately kept it a secret from you – is devastating. This is a breach of trust, and it shakes your marriage at the very foundation.
If your husband lied to you about his past, allow yourself to feel betrayed. If he kept an old relationship a secret, give yourself permission to be angry! It’s really important for you to allow your emotions to rise up. You need to experience and express them in healthy ways, so you can move on.
I can’t offer specific advice on how to fix your marriage, but I can share six tips for dealing with your husband’s past secrets and old relationships. They are:
- Express your grief, shock, anger, and betrayal in healthy ways
- Decide if you want to fix and recommit to your marriage
- Choose to forgive your husband – every single day
- Work towards rebuilding trust in your marriage
- Focus on being here now, in this moment
- Learn how to let go of the past
You are not alone. We all have past relationships, old lives, and secrets we’re not proud of. To illustrate how normal you are, I’ll share a different reader’s experience with her partner’s past secrets.
6 Ways to Deal With Your Husband’s Past Secrets
This article won’t immediately and magically save your marriage or tell you everything you need to know about dealing with your husband’s past secrets. But, you will see that you are not alone. And, you’ll find several resources for healing and saving your relationship.
I’m currently reading Making Marriage Work: Avoiding the Pitfalls and Achieving Success by Rob Pascale and Louis H. Primavera. It is an excellent book for married couples; it draws on Primavera’s 25 years in private practice as a marriage counselor.
Each chapter includes anecdotes that every married couple can relate to, which can help bring relationship issues to life. Pascale and Primavera also share helpful and honest solutions that can help couples have more satisfying relationships.
Whether you’re learning how to deal with your husband’s past relationships secrets or lies – or you just want to improve your marriage – you’ll find solid information in Making Marriage Work.
1. Express your grief, shock, anger, and betrayal in healthy ways
Sometimes we feel guilty for getting angry – even when we have every reason to be mad! We’ve been taught that anger is dangerous or bad, and good girls don’t grrrrowl. We bury our anger because we don’t want to hurt others. We feel guilty and uncomfortable for feeling angry, so we downplay or ignore it.
Don’t make that mistake. You were wronged. Your husband lied to you, concealed his past from you, and deliberately misled you. He betrayed your trust – and you have every right to be angry. Express your anger in healthy ways that suit your personality: drive somewhere isolated and scream/yell/sob/rant and rave in your car where nobody can hear you. Write in your journal all the horrible things you want to say to him. Get that grief, pain, shock, anger, and hurt out of your body and soul.
Grieve your loss so you can heal. Your husband’s secrets and lies are painful to behold, and you need to grieve the death of whatever dreams they shattered. Your vision of your future together has changed. Your perspective of your husband is forever altered. Your memories are tainted and discolored. Be honest with yourself…and with him.
2. Decide if you want to recommit to your marriage
“Commitment is an unwavering allegiance to a relationship and a partner,” write Pascale and Primavera in Making Marriage Work.
“Central to the idea of commitment is the conviction that regardless of what happens you are bound to your partner….Emotional commitment makes us more willing to sacrifice our own needs and desires so we can pursue ones that serve us as a couple. We’re also more likely to hold onto positive thoughts about our marriage and be supportive of our partner. Because we cherish our relationship we’re less likely to be unfaithful.”
Are you committed to saving your marriage? Equally as important: is your husband committed to rebuilding trust in your relationship? If his secret past or old relationship is something you can live with, then you need to recommit wholeheartedly to saving your marriage. This means dealing with his past in healthy ways by learning how to forgive and move on. You may even consider couples counseling or marriage therapy – or at least read books about making marriage work. But you can’t fix your relationship alone…you have to ask your husband if he is willing to rebuild your marriage with you. Can you work together, as a team, to save your relationship?
Are his past secrets and relationships too big a burden for you to bear? Read How to End a Relationship When You’re Scared to Be Alone.
3. Choose to forgive your husband – every single day
Oh, the pain and joy of forgiveness! It is a beautiful gift, but it can be so incredibly difficult to grasp. I love being forgiven, but I have a hard time forgiving others.
Learning how to deal with your husband’s secret past has to start with forgiveness – whether it was an old relationship he was having behind your back, an affair, a vasectomy, financial infidelity, an emotional affair. You need to forgive your husband for betraying you, for keeping the secret, and for letting his past darken your doorstep. Forgiveness is a daily choice, not a one-time event. Forgiving your husband’s secrets is something you must do every morning, noon, and night. It’s a conscious decision you must make if you want to rebuild your relationship.
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4. Work towards rebuilding trust in your marriage
“Trust is extremely fragile, and it can dissolve quickly from a single indiscretion,” write Pascale and Primavera in Making Marriage Work. “If that event is extreme, such as infidelity, it can be almost impossible to reestablish and will undermine other aspects of a marriage.”
If you don’t trust your husband because of his secrets, past, or old relationships then you don’t feel secure with him. Your marriage is unstable because you’re constantly looking for signs your husband is lying, cheating, or betraying you again. You’re simply trying to find out if your relationship can work – you’re looking for the reassurance, love, and security you once had.
Rebuilding trust in your marriage is a long-term process that is worth the effort. Don’t shy away from healthy communication and even arguments as a way to deal with your husband’s secrets and old relationships. “Arguments are actually good for a marriage,” write Pascale and Primavera. “They are the primary vehicle for improving our relationship. If we’re unhappy with something our partner does or doesn’t do, only by confronting them can we give ourselves a chance to make our needs understood. Partners can then make the appropriate adjustments so that these needs can be fulfilled.”
Arguments can also help you rebuild trust by helping you fix your problems as a couple. If you work together to deal with the outfall of your husband’s past secret or old relationship, you can actually feel more emotionally connected.
5. Focus on being here now, in this moment
Learning how to live in the present is one of the most important tips on how to deal with your husband’s secrets and old relationships.
The past is done. There is no point looking back and dwelling on what he did, for it is finished. Freedom from the secrets of the past depends on forgiveness. If you can’t forgive your husband’s secrets, lies, or betrayals then you’ll never be free to move on. If you can’t forgive yourself for whatever mistakes or choices you made, then you’ll stay stuck in the past.
Did you know that God lives with His feet squarely planted in the present? He is not concerned with the mistakes of the past or the concerns of the future. He is here now, and can be trusted to take care of your future for you. This concept of living in the present – and trusting God with your life – is the key to a happy, healthy, free life.
Whether you’re married to a man with secrets – or you yourself have a past you’d rather not post on Facebook – the only way to live free is to be here now.
6. Learn how to let go of the past
Do your husband’s past secrets involve cheating, or even relationships he can’t tell you about? Here’s what one reader says…
“I’ve been with my fiancé for 5 years and he has done some unforgivable things like infidelity and other things he’s too ashamed to admit,” says Bettina on 5 Signs You Can Trust Your Boyfriend After He Cheated. “I forgave him for the things he did without knowing the truth. But now I want to know what secrets he’s been keeping from his past. I am so consumed by not knowing the truth that I search and search for clues to his old relationships. I am miserable, and I feel I cannot be happy or trust him or move forward without knowing the whole truth. I love him but am miserable and resent him more and more. Every time I ask him about stuff I’m discovering about his past, he is silent or denies everything. I know he doesn’t want to hurt me and he may be ashamed, but I feel I cannot move forward without the truth and it needs to come from him. I want him to take responsibility for his actions, admit his wrongs and come clean so I can have closure.”
If your husband can’t “confess” his secrets and share his past with you, it’s a sign he hasn’t dealt with his shame and guilt. This is his burden. He needs to learn how to forgive himself, and to stop letting his past control and consume him. If his secrets and old relationships are eating him alive, he has to get help dealing with his past.
You have to take your power back. You can’t force him to deal with his past, but you can stop allowing his choices to destroy your life. You can do this. You can find ways to emotionally detach from someone you care about – and still have a relationship with him. It won’t be as healthy or loving as you’d like, but at least his secrets and past relationships won’t have power over you.
Resources for Dealing With Your Husband’s Past Secrets
In Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration, Cindy Beall describes how she learned how to rebuild trust in her husband. A few days after Valentine’s Day, Cindy’s husband Chris – a respected pastor – confessed to a pornography addiction, numerous affairs, and the shocking news that a woman was pregnant with his child.
With raw honesty and intimate knowledge of pain and of God’s power to resurrect something new out of the debris of betrayal, Cindy reveals how to:
- Seek guidance, counseling, and prayer support when a husband’s past lies, secrets, and old relationships surface
- Help the family heal from the grief and humiliation
- Rebuild trust after infidelity and other addictions undermine a marriage
- Protect a relationship from lies and unfaithfulness
- Rely on God to pursue forgiveness and move forward in new promises
Cindy’s compassion and grasp of God’s Word will help you deal with your husband’s secrets, past, and lies. Her story has helped thousands of married couples heal broken relationships.
Are you struggling with past betrayals, secrets, or lies? I welcome you to share your experience below.
While I can’t offer advice on how to deal with your husband’s secrets and old relationships, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.