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LOVE LETTERS

My fiancé doesn’t know I’ve been married before

The relationship I had prior to Mr. Right was an absolute train wreck, and he persuaded me to elope. It’s my biggest regret.

Love Letters

Q. I’m newly engaged to the most incredible guy. The problem is that my fiancé and I need to apply for our marriage license, and he doesn’t know I’ve been married before. In fact, no one knows (besides my therapist).

The relationship I had prior to Mr. Right was an absolute train wreck. It involved being with an older man who was emotionally abusive, unfaithful, restricted access to my own money, etc. At one point, he convinced me that it would be best to elope. This is my biggest regret.

After not being able to handle it anymore, my family helped me pack up some stuff and I left with what I could. Then I went to court to file for a restraining order and serve papers for the divorce. As this whole thing is wrapping up, cue Mr. Right. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to date anymore. But I went for a few casual dates with Mr. Right, which turned into some serious dates . . . and then more dates.

During all of this, he’s been so understanding of my PTSD/triggers from my prior relationship (he knows some details). And now here we are, engaged. I should be ecstatic. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I have this secret eating away at me.

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I want to tell him everything so we can start our marriage with honesty. I’m just so scared that he’s going to walk away. With him, I finally feel like I’m living life.

I don’t know what to do. I know telling him sooner would be better. But, I’m not sure how to approach it. Please help.

– Hopeful Bride-to-Be

A. Your fiancé has accepted everything you’ve told him. He’s given you reason to believe he can handle more of the story. In fact, he might not be shocked by it because he already knows he doesn’t have all the details. Maybe it’ll help him understand where you’re coming from.

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Of course, it’s easy for me to say, “Just tell him.” Too easy because I’m not in your shoes. I hear you; it’s a scary thing, not knowing how he’ll respond.

Here’s where I’ll mention that domestic violence and abuse organizations can be helpful after people leave relationships. Experts can talk about language and honesty. They can give you tools to help you move on with joyful things.

It seems like a good time to try one (I always mention TheHotline.org here because it’s national). Ask how to talk about your past, but also find out what services are in your area for more assistance — because more would be good. It’s wonderful that you’ve met a great partner, but that happened ahead of schedule. Consider what support you need as you consider your history and future all at once.

Remember, there is no need to rush the process.

– Meredith

READERS RESPOND

Many years ago, I held something back from my fiancé, mostly because it felt like a “big deal” that would taint how he thought of my family. Then one day, so casually, he told me something that had been a part of his life growing up, and it was the same “secret” I had been holding back from him. The “big deal,” in my case, turned out to be only in my head. KWINTERS1

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If he walks away over this, then he’s not Mr. Right, now is he? MADVIBES