A key aspect of being in a romantic relationship is honesty. You have to open up to someone and let them in, see all sides of your life, know the parts of your past that no one else does. You can't have a relationship with secrets anymore than you can have a house with locked doors.
Reddit user, u/throw212awaay, shared his story about one of those times when a door was opened for him and asked for advice:
I have been dating the most amazing woman for the past year and a half. I have been in puppy love before, the kind where they're all you can think about and you smile when you think of them - and we have that too- but she has also brought to me the joy of being together but not together (that magnificent way you can just be and be alone in the same room- her reading a book, me doing a project) and really knowing someone (knowing how her mouth crinkles when she thinks, the way the rain makes her feel,all the stories of her childhood, all the little stuff that makes her a person ). At least I thought I did.
I was shopping for a ring and had been dropping hints that made her smile and we would plan this little suburban life- a deck with a grill, a goofy puppy, a piano. We talked about baby names and vetoed ones, we have the joke names Trevor and Trevina. We'd pick out paint colors and flooring at Lowe's and giggle like idiots. I was 100% confident, I just hadn't chosen a ring, you know,she didn't want a diamond but didn't know what she does want.
Then I got a fb message today from some guy. He said that he was her brother-in-law and that she had blocked him on fb but could I please pass along a wedding invite and it would mean a lot if she was there.
I pressed for more details and it all came out. She was married before to a guy named Brendan and they had a little boy, Sam- she told me before she didn't like that name. The son died in a car accident and afterwards They had an ugly divorce and she cut ties. 5 years of her life, I never knew about and I don't know if I ever would've. I think she was never going to tell me.
I've felt sick about this all day. Made up an imaginary sickness to sit and think by myself and I feel paralyzed by it. This morning I knew her and now I don't. I don't even know how to bring this up or what. I definitely can't go buy the ring and pretend. At the same time, I want to be with. I am hurt but know that was horrible, that she went through something unimaginable but I don't know what that means for us. Am I just a distraction? Is this something she does?
I just don't know. Help?
tl;dr I(30m) just found out my girlfriend(28) of a year+ had a whole life I knew nothing about, right as I've been ring shopping. This life includes a first marriage and a child who passed away. i am stunned.. Advice?
Start The Honesty TrainGiphy
Show her the message, and gently ask her about it.
Losing a child is awful and everyone mourns in their own way. Perhaps she would have told you after you guys were officially engaged. Or when you were going to seriously try for a baby.
It's not about you, OP, and I really doubt you are just a distraction. You still know her.
Seriously, stop thinking about it, and just talk to her.
Maybe It Was NothingGiphy
I think you may be slightly overreacting.
It sounds like she had a pretty tough, emotional time that maybe she isn't ready to share with anyone.
Just because you were in ring shopping mode, doesn't mean she has to talk to you about her deepest emotional feelings of loss. I mean, imagine - you've lost your child and then your marriage falls apart, that's life changing.
I suggest you mention it and see what comes of the conversation. I doubt she was trying to hide anything from you.
Reflect On Your ChoicesGiphy
she told me before she didn't like that name
Completely understandable after what happened, and I'm 100% positive she would never want any of her future kids to be called that name.
Anyway, you need to talk to her about this. Don't make it about you e.g. by asking things like 'why didn't you tell me? How could you not mention this to me'.
Her past contains a lot of hurt, and shutting it out of her life is one way to get over it and move on (same like everyone here recommends to go no contact after a breakup).
Ask yourself this. If your gf had told you all of this herself earlier in your relationship, would it have been a big deal and would you still love her and want to be there for her?
If the answer is yes, you would want to still be with her, then you need to work on how to be understanding.
If you can show her that you still love, support and trust her, even when you know her deepest, darkest secrets, then your relationship will only grow stronger.
Don't Be Another Pity Party
You need to sit and talk to her.
You also need to keep in mind that when a parent loses a child everyone they know (close and distant) will feel sorry/pity them. Maybe your the one person in her life who doesn't look at her with pity in their eyes. Doesn't skirt around certain issues.
Like it or not certain occurrences forever alter how we interact with people and for once she just wanted something normal, something she had before the loss of everything.
She could have also had bad reactions from past partners when she told them this and she didn't want to jeopardise what you had. Then the longer she left it the harder it became to bring up.
There's also the third option that's she denying it ever happened, even to herself. Its a known coping mechanism. If that is the one she is using then it will eventually catch up with her. You can never outrun your past, as you're seeing now.
It's not right to lie for so long to someone you plan to spend your life with but in this case it is understandable. No one can understand how it feels to loose a child unless you have lost one yourself.
Be kind when you raise the issue. Don't allow any temper into the conversation and allow her to get it out as she needs to. Please don't force her to answer all your questions unless she is ok to do so.
Remember, It's Only Half About YouGiphy
Am I just a distraction? Is this something she does?
This is extremely concerning to me. Why would you think this? You think this is about you? Is this something she does?? What, have a kid, that kid dies and then she has a horrible divorce? Yeah, I'm sure that's just "what she does". Jeez dude. I know you're shocked, but take a step back for a minute.
Think It Through
Okay, this is the sort of deception you can work through with help, given that we all understand that a loss of a child will, well, f-ck you up for lack of a better turn of phrase. I can understand wanting to lock that away from yourself, which it seems like she did.
Take the space you need to approach this rationally, since it seems like you haven't talked to her. From there, you can evaluate if this is workable or not.
Be Prepared For The EndGiphy
Some people go through something so traumatic that they need a restart in life.
Move to a new place, make new friends, make new love, and block out the past.
The death of a child definitely counts as one of these. She obviously does NOT want to think about this, or deal with it at the moment.
I'd be very careful on how you broach the subject with her. If you go after her angry or as a victim don't be surprised at being dropped. You need to get over your hurt feelings and think about this from her point of view.
Maybe Let It Go?Giphy
On one hand I can see why your is steamed OP.
On the other I can see a mother who's life imploded in the worst possible way and likely has no desire to relive those event again in any way.
I'm a parent and I can't even comprehend what it would be like to lose my child. I can't even try and think of what that would feel like.
I wouldn't confront her about this. I would pass on the invitation, I would let her know that I would be willing to listen, and hold her, if she wants to share her past. I would also have a question, Will her past impact our future or is there anything we/you/me could do to help ensure it doesn't?
Some People Just Need To Run Away
Oh, man. What a situation.
You are probably not a distraction, and this is probably not "something she does." This is not okay, not by a long shot, but it could honestly be that she was hoping to just outrun the grief. To not have it be part of her anymore.
When you go through something awful, it's a lot easier, sometimes, to only be around people that don't know about it. Rudyard Kipling even wrote a poem that talks about this--the lines
There is knowledge God forbid / More than one should own
always suggested to me something that I learned as a teenager--sometimes when people know you've been through Hell, when they look at you, Hell is all they see. It holds you there. It makes it really hard to outgrow the horrors of the where-you've-been, when you can see it reflected in people's eyes.
So...from my perspective this was probably not an attempt at manipulation, but instead an attempt to just...not be that person anymore. Not be the grieving mother, not be the injured ex-wife, not be the divorcee whose marriage and relationship with family was shattered (even now, her ex-brother-in-law wants her company! That does not tell me that she is a bad person).
That does not, however, make it okay. Not when the two of you are talking about marriage. She should have told you when you started talking about rings and baby names, and you're not wrong to feel conflicted and maybe a bit angry and hurt about it. Stunned, absolutely.
My advice would be to sit her down and to tell her that her brother-in-law got in touch with you. Don't accuse, don't shout, don't get angry, just tell her that you were told to pass on a wedding invitation, and see how she responds to that. Be calm.
Does knowing that she has lived through this grief make you less likely to want to marry her? Does knowing that she bore and lost a child make you less likely to want to have children with her?