Friday, March 1, 2013

Agony Aunt: My Private Past

Asalamu Alaykom,

Once again it's time to ask a question and get an answer.  As always, I do my best to give advice which helps.  If you have something good to add, please do!  Just leave your addtional thoughts in the comments section.

Asalaam Alaikuom Sis,

Insha'Allah you'll be able to help me get out of a tough situation.  I hope you have some advice to give me!

My husband is really bothered about my past.  He knew I was married before (when I was still learning about Islam and got played).  After we married, I mentioned my high school boyfriend I'd had for two years.  That boyfriend was, "my first."  It was only one time so I didn't think it was a big deal.   

He had always thought my first husband was my first.  Now, he says that it's a big deal that I kept it from him  and that there's one extra person who had me before him.  

I don't know what it is with men.  I just wish he'd get over it!  I can't change what's happened.  He was fine with me being married.  We were married for two years before I said anything about the boyfriend.  I didn't think it would bother him that much.  Unfortunately, he's acting all weird about it.  I know he's trying to deal with his sadness.  Insha'Allah the sadness will go away but it's been months and he keeps bringing it up no matter how I much I talk with him.

I realize now I should have told him BEFORE we married.  Astragfurallah.  I was wrong to not do that.  

The problem is that now I want to go back to normal.  How do I handle this?  I wish I had a re-set button to push! LOL!

Fi Amaan Allah Wasalaam,

Your Sis

Wa Alaykom Asalam Sis,

Thanks for writing to me.  We know that our secrets are never unknown to Allah.  Even if you never wrote, you would not be stuck alone with the burden of your secret.  You had Allah ready to listen to you and to relieve your pain.

It is painful when the people we love don't love us back unconditionally.  Mothers love unconditionally (or are supposed to) and it's in their eyes we can do no wrong.  Men are different!  Our fathers put conditions on their love, according to psychologists.  They are the ones who we strive to impress.

In many ways, our relationships with our husbands carry on the lessons we were trying to learn as young girls.  What does it mean to belong to him?  How can I please him?  

Don't get me wrong.  Your husband also belongs to you and also works out unfinished issues from his childhood.  We are all adult children.  

So, there we are!  A wife and husband are two imperfect people bumping along through life.  Marriage is not for the faint of heart.  Really?  You have to be ready for the long haul.

You told your husband about two love relationships that were impermanent.  He heard from you that men have been meaningless to you; or if you attached meaning to a man that he later ceased to be important.  As your husband gets closer to you, he also feels how vulnerable he's making himself. He worries.  Every time that you try to reassure him of how little they matter to you now, you're actually worrying  him more that he could be headed for the same fate.

So, talking about the men you knew before is only making it worse.  You absolutely have to REFUSE to discuss your former relationships.  You are not mandated to be open and honest with your husband.  No, you are not.  This is the Western ideal but not a very sound idea. 

Remember this lesson from Memoir of a Geisha:

"Sayuri, you know that men have eels and women have caves?  Sometimes, a man's eel like to visit a woman's cave.  A man likes his eel to visit a new cave that has never been visited by other men's eels."

A man doesn't like to think of other men when he's with you.  However, once the thought is there it bothers him to the point of insanity.  I'm sure that Shaytan plays a part in this.  Your man can't shake the thoughts so it's up to you to stop the talk.

If he says something stupid or hurtful about your past, be loving but firm and say into his eyes, "I don't remember anything before you.  You are the only one for me."

Don't crack.  Don't relent and answer one more question in the hopes that he will be satiated.  REFUSE! Say once again, "I don't remember anything before you.  You are the only one for me."

If he continues, especially if he brings up the name of a former boyfriend or husband, literally get up to leave while saying, "Astragferallah!"  Refuse to speak to him again until he apologizes.

Mention zolm; the concept of unfairness, to him.  He is being unfair to you and needs to fear Allah.  Not that you have to bring it up to him but the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would never have done this to any of his wives.  At least nine of the Mothers of the Believers were married before they married the Prophet.  They had pasts but they had to leave them in order to gain the most from the present.

You have to keep your mouth shut.  I know that quietness is un-American but you've got to make that switch to being more Islamic in your speech.  I don't feel you're there yet.  There's still a part of you which wants to say too much and divulge and discuss.  You are in your comfort zone when you are chatting away the details of your life.  This is going to harm you and your marriage so it's better to eradicate it.

Your husband has no right to your life before Islam and neither does anyone else.  Your slate was wiped clean when you took shahaddah.  You are the one bringing up the misdeeds from before.  Allah was not going to charge you for them.  However, you should fear Allah for making dirty the present with the past.

You have a good life now because it's clean.  It's halal.  You have a real chance to be the person you were meant to be.  I know you feel that or else you wouldn't be reaching out.

Go to Allah, ask forgiveness for the wrong you did---not with the boyfriend from years ago but from bringing up that old information to your husband now.  You did make a mistake.  You never should have told him.

There is a chance you are still harboring some fond feelings for the past.  Those feelings might have cropped up as you were trying to get closer to your husband.  Feelings are funny things!  We women do love from the depths of our souls and sometimes it takes years to extinguish former flames.  Don't doubt that Shaytan is probably doing all he can to re-kindle that fire.

This is also a reminder to other women who may be reading:  see how much trouble multiple men in your life can cause?  It is better to go slowly, choose wisely and be protective of your chastity and dignity.

Sis, ask Allah to remove from your heart any possible traces of that first love.  Ask even if you are SURE that there is nothing left.  Ask Allah to cleanse your heart and take out any haram or love for haram.  Evil actions are often exciting to relive in our minds and tempting for our egos to keep remembering.  In place of jahilaya; your time before Islam, ask Allah to fill your heart up with more love for your good life now and for your faithful husband.

As Muslims, we need to cover our faults and the faults of others.  The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) hated to have one of his followers make a confession their sins.  Confession is not part of our deen.  For some reason, his followers would go to him in a public place to unload their troubles.  Even  if Rasulullah tried to persuade them to be quiet or to make excuses for them, they would continue.  Under these conditions, he was left with no other choice than to sancture them for misdeeds.  If they had not blabbed their secrets to people, but rather only to Allah, they would have been spared.

Do you see?

Our husbands have always known we're not perfect.  They accept us.  They just don't want to be reminded of our imperfections.  They simply want to believe that we have foresaken all others, are committed to them for life, and most of all, fear Allah.

May Allah reward you for all your efforts.


Thankful Slave said...

Asslam Aleikum Sis. Yosra,

I think you covered the topic pretty well..
I you would allow me to just add some info, here is what I found on islamqa website related to the topic, Ulamas are in accordance that it is not prescribed for anyone who has fallen into sin to tell anyone else about it when Allah has concealed him/her, and he should not expose himself/herself..

Should she tell her husband about her previous relationships?:

Her Fiancé Made Her Tell Him About Her Past:

Asking about a person’s past:



Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam TS,

Always nice to have you stop by with the male perspective :)

Thanks for the links. I'll go take a look.

By the way, Readers, I didn't say it but men shouldn't tell their wives about former loves either.

Any other comments? Remember, sharing is caring!