Mailvox: Wisdom is learning by someone else’s example

CR writes: As always, you are spot on. I was married to my first wife for 19.5 years (dated for 5.5 before marriage, met at 17 years old). Every troubling sign you list was there and grew worse during those 26 years. As a Catholic, I did two things that I do not regret (because they were right) that hurt me considerably: 1) I never divorced her (until she threatened to shoot our children which led to me finding out how mean she was to them in general), and 2) I never told anyone else about what was going on between us (I don’t recall the scripture passage but I remember that if someone doesn’t NEED to know something bad about someone else, you have no right to tell them).

Only after the fact, I found out that for several years she had been saying horrible things about me to everyone we knew. I found emails from her seeking advice on how to “divorce [me] and keep everything.” And so much more… At last that life is over for me…and I have remarried. My new wife of 4 years is such a wonder. I could go on forever talking about why…but the most important quality that makes this marriage such a fabulous marriage is quite simple…we both knew OURSELVES very well! No BS, no posturing, no game-playing, no disappointing revelations after the knot was tied. Your article is (as always) of the highest caliber. I am writing only to suggest that SELF-reflection is also very, very important. “Are you REALLY the man or woman you project to your intended spouse?”

The only thing I’d disagree with here is that one does not have an obligation to keep silent about another person’s misbehavior. This flies directly in the face of the Biblical notion of accountability; seeking counsel and wisdom on matters that directly concern you should never be confused with gossip.

That being said, better late than never, and CR’s story not only highlights the importance of being honest with yourself about your mate’s potential flaws, but also that we can learn from our mistakes.