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Read Letter

She Didn’t Tell Me She Had An Abortion

My dear Jack, I read your mail, and I sighed deeply. It’s not because the issue is unresolvable but because there are so many dimensions to the issue. It boils down to the question of disclosure – what should a man disclose to his fiancée, and what should a woman disclose to her man before marriage. Some of the things some men insist upon are prurient and unwholesome – things like number of lovers before they met… Of what use is that sort of information? The only right answer such a questioner will be pleased with is “None.” He can’t handle any other answer. There are those with the mentality of Henry VIII King of England. He couldn’t handle the knowledge his wife had a past lover BEFORE THEY MET. Killed the guy. It’s a gory editorial work on sexual history. Some men want to be the first. Unfortunately they get attracted to non-virgins and can’t handle the fact. You can’t reverse history. It’s best to just accept your girlfriend’s sexual history and concentrate on what attracted you to her. You came into her life later than her past.

What you can’t handle don’t seek to know is a general rule of thumb for relationships. But like every rule it has exceptions. I suspect we’re dealing with one of such exceptions as per the matter at hand. Truth is, what parties disclose to each other during courtship is very dependent on the character of the individuals, their worldviews, the depth of relationship they share, the degree of honesty and sincerity, as well as their personalities. I suspect she read you wouldn’t want to marry her if she disclosed she’s had abortion in the past. I mean, look at your reaction ex post facto – after the fact. And so it would have been a dilemma for her whether to disclose the fact or not. If she disclosed you won’t marry her. If she doesn’t disclose and you find out later, trouble. She was on the horns of dilemma.
You may also wish to be honest with yourself what your issue really is: the fact she never disclosed she had abortion in the past, or the fact you attribute the fertility problem to the abortion. In other words, if you don’t have a fertility challenge will the lack of disclosure about previous abortion still make you mad? That’s the test. If there was no fertility issue and you’re still mad about not being told about the previous abortion then the nondisclosure is the issue for you. In other words, know why you’re mad. And it may be you never wanted to marry a woman who’s had an abortion. Perhaps you view that as a morality pointer. Is it? Of course the challenge arises as to whether we should be held to the mistakes of our teenage years. Let’s put it another way: if you impregnated a girl when you were in university and asked her to have an abortion can your wife hold that up against you? Should she? Is it a morality pointer?
And so there is the fact of the nondisclosure of a past abortion, and there is the fact of an abortion, and there is the fact of the abortion affecting conception, assuming it’s what’s responsible for delayed conception. Now you see things are not as clear cut as you imagine. She had this abortion when she was a teenager – about eighteen? Given sociocultural convention truth is many girls would do the same. Having a baby as a kid has serious social challenges in your country. Yet I do know how a man feels about such nondisclosure. He feels taken for a ride, feels like a fool, feels “cheated.” He feels gamed. And he’s angry he’s not in control of the situation. Would have loved to have a say on marriage or not. Control.
It still goes back to those issues I highlighted. How liberal are you? How close are the two of you? How much openness was in your courtship? Did you instil fear of disclosure in her? The liberal type will not have a problem with such a disclosure. His cultural exposure can accommodate such disclosure. I am not however unaware some women will feel a woman doesn’t need to disclose such facts, that it’s none of the man’s business. A lot will depend on the quality of relationship you want I’d say. But you have to control your emotion, and I understand you’re angry. Trying to say the marriage is invalid, that it was based on a lie is a rather wild deduction. That she didn’t disclose that abortion in the past doesn’t mean she didn’t and doesn’t love you. And it is very theologically disputable God is not in the marriage because of that nondisclosure. Come on! You thought God was in the marriage until the issue of conception came up.
I know you feel deceived, and your emotions are understandable. But calm down. The fundament of your marriage is the love you shared. Don’t throw that out of the window. If at all use this occasion to cement your relationship and extract deeper commitment from her, especially communication commitment. If you handle this maturely she’ll be in your debt forever. She knows you truly love her. I’d caution against turning this into a circus of righteousness despite your righteous indignation. I’m saying don’t turn this problem into a community discourse. Handle it maturely. It’s not going to be easy but you have to summon something inside you. We don’t always get the perfection we want in life. Life has a mixed menu.
And don’t lose your head either. I know it’s a male thing. When we’re angry with our spouse we can easily lurch into an affair. We become desperate for comfort. If you make that mistake you’ll only compound the issues and complicate your life. You will now become the subject matter. Everyone will forget the original stuff. Not everyone will know what the originating issue is anyway. And how many people are you going to explain to why you had extra marital affair. And you may be walking into a well laid trap – an opportunistic entrapment. Stay cool. You can’t handle being the talk of the town, trust me. By the time you finally hear some of the gist about you months would have passed. Your response will be time lagged. And who are you going to make your case to? You won’t even know who’s been talking about you. This is major gossip subject matter. Gossip is anonymous and cowardly slander. You may say you don’t owe her fidelity given the facts but you owe yourself fidelity. And you may end up catching something major out there. There are lines one shouldn’t cross in life. Once you cross a line the possibilities in that dimension make themselves available to you. A determined woman operating beyond that line will wreck whatever is left of your marriage. She’s going to make claims. She doesn’t want to be used as emotional crutch.
Sit down with the gynaecologist and find out as much as you can about the situation. What exactly is causing delay in conception? What are the medical options? What are the pros and cons? And for all you know there may be no real issue, just bad timing. Your spermatozoa may just be going swimming at inauspicious times. Explore all the options available. But you have to do it together. Which means you have to get over your anger. That can be difficult because it’s mixed with pain and disappointment. Ask God to remove the anger from you. He will. Marriage or no marriage you can’t hold on to that anger. It will make you do stupid stuff. And for men anger is justification for stupid stuff. So calm down.
Sit down with your wife and tell her exactly how you feel. Don’t do it to punish her or to beat her up, or make her feel pain. That’s cruel and it’s counterproductive. She’s going through so much anguish already. She’s afraid of exposure. Think of all the ramifications. There’s her family as well. Her parents most likely didn’t know about the abortion. They can’t reconcile their daughter to that fact. These are realities. Be a gentleman not an avenging deity. She’s also afraid her young marriage may be over. You’ve not been eating at home and the atmosphere is poisoned. You’ve both got to come together to solve the issue. You can’t do it on your own and she can’t get pregnant by herself. And it’s not as if she cheated on you. She’s been faithful to you, been a good wife to you. Yes, what she did was egregious given the circumstances but what is done is done. Have those discussions you should have had which you never had. These are discussions you should have had in courtship which you failed to have. Have them now. You have the opportunity. And don’t become afraid of your wife. Don’t do that thing men do saying she can kill you if she can do this. That’s febrile imagination. You know who you married. You know her capabilities. She was just caught in a difficult situation, she’s not a deceitful person.
There should be honesty and sincerity in a relationship. Or else there’ll be politicians’ honour. You know what that means. No politician trusts the promise of another politician. When there’s no sincerity in a relationship manipulation sets in. There won’t be acceptance of truth, not even self-evident truth. The manipulator of course gets deceived because there’ll be genuine subscription to a lie. Manipulation is a lifestyle. Once there’s manipulation there can be no trust in a relationship.
You may both need to see a professional counsellor. A professional counsellor will help you identify the real issues in the relationship. You need to get to the bottom of the fears. Was it just fear of you walking out of the relationship if she disclosed the abortion to you, or is she generally afraid of you? I’m saying an issue like this has a great potential to cement a young marriage. But it can also rend the marriage and rend the soul. A lot depends on how you go about things.
Calm down. Don’t do anything rash. Don’t do anything irrational or stupid. Everything will be sorted out and you will have your baby. Have faith.
Your mentor, LA
© Leke Alder |
We don’t always get the perfection we want in life. Life has a mixed menu. Click To Tweet
Tags : Secrets, Trust, Confidentiality

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