Fast forward to two months ago. I found out that my partner got married nine years earlier. It was up in Canada, and, as it was a same sex marriage and not recognized here in the U.S., she figured it was never a “real marriage.” My partner tells me she only married this person to help her get kicked out of the army for being gay. She also tells me there was never any physical and/or emotional attraction for this person, and that she was simply doing “a favor” for a friend. After they were married, my partner’s then-“wife” decided she wanted to become a man – and this ended their relationship. My partner believed the marriage was then considered invalid and “wiped out” as this “woman” was now a man. She never bothered following through with seeing if she was still married in the eyes of the law. Well, she was and is still legally married and has since officially filed for divorce.
My partner tells me she kept this secret from me for our entire relationship because she was embarrassed, ashamed, and disgusted by what she did. We had gotten engaged last fall and, needless to say, our engagement is now called off. I am having a real hard time understanding why she accepted my ring last fall. Wouldn’t that not have been the time to tell me the truth about her past? My partner wants me to forgive her and try to understand her reasons for keeping this secret from me. I struggle with trying to understand and forgive. At this point I am not even sure if I can ever get those feelings back that I once had. I just feel betrayed and hurt. I’d appreciate your advice. — Unable to Trust After She Lied About Being Married
This is like this morning’s column, only you were spared making the commitment of marriage to this woman before knowing the truth about her. Also, her truth isn’t an entire lifestyle she was hiding that will affect your life together. It is an omission that affects your relationship, and certainly your trust in her, but it’s not one that can’t potentially be overcome. Only you can decide if this lie, this omission of truth, is a deal-breaker for you. And only you can decide if the effort it will take on your ex(?)-girlfriend’s part to get out of this marriage is worth the wait. And only you can decide whether you believe her excuse for keeping the marriage a secret (“she was embarrassed, ashamed, and disgusted by what she did”). Maybe all of that is true, but I also suspect she was lazy about legally clearing herself of the marriage, psychologically unprepared to re-visit what might be emotionally unfinished business, and afraid of losing you.
Now that you know about this marriage, what do you really know about that past relationship of hers? That it effectively “ended” when the wife decided she wanted to be a man is curious. It suggests that there was, in fact, some sort of “relationship” beyond what your girlfriend has described (which sounds more like some sort of business agreement . . . or “favor,” as she said). If it was never a romantic relationship — never a “physical or emotional attraction,” what difference would it have made if the wife suddenly wanted to be a man? Why was THAT the nail in the coffin of their sham marriage?
It’s just a hunch, but I suspect there is more to the story than you have heard. But even if there isn’t, you were kept in the dark about a really big issue even after your girlfriend agreed to marry you. What does that say about her value system in regards to relationships (i.e. what she believes is important to share and know before committing to someone)? What else is she keeping from you? And can she do anything to earn back your trust? These are questions you need to sit on, discuss with her, and follow your gut on. There’s no right answer. There’s only what feels right to you. And if this doesn’t, then MOA, and try not to let this incident keep you from loving with a full and open heart in the future.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.