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Forgiving his dark secret

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  August 26, 2010 09:00 AM

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Book reviews will be posted tomorrow. I'm having our Northeastern/Emerson co-cops vote on the winner because I just can't choose.

Also, tomorrow I'll be having sinus surgery. That's not code for "nose job." Apparently, my bad asthma might get better if I let a doctor operate on my sinuses, so I'm doing that tomorrow morning.

That's relevant to you only because it means I'll need some good reading next week when I'm home recovering. If you've been thinking about sending a letter and haven't, now's the time. If you have any suggestions for movies/books to keep me busy, let me know.

Today's letter is heavy. I had to think about it for a few days.

Q: Dear Meredith,

After almost 20 years of marriage, I asked my husband to leave. I grew up and he didn't. I got a promotion at my job after about two months of him being gone and things were going great. With two children, the last thing I wanted was another man

Six months in, I decided maybe I wanted to meet someone and started looking on internet dating sites. Long story short, I met someone, spoke on the phone consistently, and then finally met in person.

Although "Tom" was not what I would have sought out in person, the more we spoke, the more I realized how much we were alike. We were both in our 40s, each had 2 children, had similar interests and were both hard-working goal setters.

For the past two years Tom and I have been seeing each other almost every weekend, and when time allows, days during the week. He is a good, honest, and loving man. Our relationship has been "out of the park" in all aspects.

During these two years, he had made occasional references that there was something in his past that he had done and was not proud of, but I never pursued interest; we've all done stupid things in our past. Well, finally when speaking about possibly moving forward and moving in together, the truth came out and it was more then I was ready for.

Tom told me that about 10 years ago -- so that puts him about 30ish --he picked up a woman who happened to be under legal age. He said he didn't know it and she didn't look it. Again, long story short, he was arrested, they told him since he had no prior record to sign a paper and he would probably get probation. He was scared, signed the paper and spent two years in jail. I do not have all the details, and have to ask myself if I really want to hear any more.

Anyway, here I am, two years of being tremendously happy, loved, comforted, and thinking I have finally found my soul mate. I know in my heart he is a wonderful man and I love him so much, but now this sits in the back of my mind making me crazy. I told him it was in his past and knowing the man he is, we could surpass this and move forward.

My heart says stay, this man is not that man from years ago who made a very serious poor decision. My head says this could present obstacles going forward that I may not be ready or willing to handle. Help!

– Disappointed Heart, Massachusetts

A: I know you think you don't want to hear more about his horrible past, DH, but really, this is the time to ask questions -- of him and of yourself.

How did he process the experience? Not just the crime, but the jail time. How did he move on? How did it affect his ability to interact with women? Who else knows about this in his life? How did his family cope? Where is the woman now? Has this prevented him from getting jobs?

I have a million questions, which means you do, too. Ask them. Not because everything is your business and because you're stacking evidence against him, but because if you get all of your questions answered now, you can put the issue to rest -- either by admitting to yourself that you just have too many doubts to stay with him or by trusting your gut (and his) and forgiving his past.

Some of the million questions you might want to ask yourself: How well do you know him? Was this a surprise to you? Are you comfortable having this man around your kids? Did this story turn some of his other stories into lies? What is he asking of you?

My guess is that you do know this man rather well and that it is what it looks like. But ask, ask, ask. Get all of your concerns out there right now. He told you so that you could start this living partnership with some honesty, so take him up on that. He expects questions. The more information you have, the more confident you'll feel about your choice and moving forward with or without him.

Readers? Could you forgive this dark secret? What does she need to know? Is there a right answer? Talk.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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