TOP
Monday,August 10,2020 09:27 AM
  • Home
  • Life Style
  • Haunted by the past: How much personal data should you disclose to your spouse?

Haunted by the past: How much personal data should you disclose to your spouse?

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd May 2013 05:09 PM

I come from Kabwohe, Sheema district (formerly Bushenyi district) in western Uganda. I had a baby at the age of 17 in my Senior Four vacation. My parents took over the baby to give me another chance at education.

Haunted by the past: How much personal data should you disclose to your spouse?

I come from Kabwohe, Sheema district (formerly Bushenyi district) in western Uganda. I had a baby at the age of 17 in my Senior Four vacation. My parents took over the baby to give me another chance at education.

Sandra’s story
I come from Kabwohe, Sheema district (formerly Bushenyi district) in western Uganda. I had a baby at the age of 17 in my Senior Four vacation. My parents took over the baby to give me another chance at education.
 
When I went to Senior One, nobody knew about my past and life came back to normal, at least for a while. Little did I know that history would return to haunt me.
 
In my first year at Makerere University in 1994, I met James and two years after university, we got married. I did not tell him anything about my daughter, Rachel, simply because, one; the issue never came up at any time in our relationship; and, two, since I had not brought up Rachel, I had no attachment and did not even count her as my daughter. 
 
All her life, Rachel, who is now A’level, thought my parents were her parents and I was her elder sister. She even calls me by my name and calls my parents Mummy and Daddy.       
 
Five years into our marriage, rumour started filtering in that I had a child in my teen age in primary school. Apparently, my cousin, whom we were staying with, told one of my in-laws that Rachel was my daughter; and not my sister as we had always claimed. When my husband got wind of it, he became upset. 
 
To make matters worse, he did not even ask for my side of the story. He instead started behaving weirdly, drinking and sleeping out and even turned violent. I remember one time, he threw me out of the house with the children, locked it and drove off. That night, he did not come back and we spent a night at the neighbour’s house. 
 
When I learnt of the cause of his behaviour, I tried to apologise, but did not want to listen. He has now abandoned me with our three children and moved in with another woman with whom he has a one-year-old baby. 
 
He calls and threatens to take away the children. We have been in court several time over the children’s upkeep and custody. I have tried to involve elders and religious leaders to reconcile us, but he will not listen; he seems determined to start a new life without me. 
 
As told to a Vision Reporter
 
*******************************
 
A stitch in time could save your marriage
 
By Priscilla Butera
 
When two people decide to marry, it is believed that each party should divulge everything about them to the other party and vice versa. This includes their financial status, health, family background and generally everything about themselves, but sometimes, this does not happen as some information is considered too petty, too embarrassing, too dangerous or too private to divulge. 
 
In many cases, some people choose to keep such information to themselves hoping that it will fade away and their spouses will never get to know about it. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it does not. So, how much information, and at what point should you lay it bare your past before your spouse? 
 
Stella Mugisha, 32, who has been married for five years, says it is not mandatory to divulge all the tidbits about one’s life later in life, especially the sensitive details, in case of a misunderstanding. 
 
“For example, why would you give him a list of your former boyfriends or the sexually transmitted infections you suffered in the past?” she asks. 
 
Mugisha says revealing too much about one’s past sex life may scare away would-be suitors as they might fear history might repeat itself. 
 
Karori Mbugua, a teacher, says: “I would not reveal information about my past relationships because they may cause a rift, especially if my partner is possessive.”
 
Dan Mugabe, a cashier, advises that health issues should only be revealed when one feels ready to commit, bearing in mind the timing. 
 
“For example, it is unforgivable to tell your partner that you are HIV-positive a few weeks after tying the knot. Although discordant couples exist, you must leave it to your partner to choose whether or not they should be with you.” 
 
Mugabe adds that before he got married, he was drowning in debt, but he could not disclose it to his fiancée. “I could have been declared bankrupt then, but I had to keep it to myself because I did not want to scare her away. Now that we are married, I always tell her when I am financially constrained.” 
 
Susan Nalwoga, a counsellor, says it is better to reveal information gradually, depending on how comfortable one is and if one’s partner wants a committal relationship. 
 
“You do not have to tell someone in the early stages of your relationship that your uterus was removed or that you are impotent. This kind of information should be revealed when you are sure your partner does not want children or they have their own and would not mind being with you.”  
 
Property and children are some of the major issues that can cause a rift in a relationship if not well-handled. 
“Many people these days are schemers. It is, therefore, better to reveal information when you are sure about your partner’s intentions,” Nalwoga says. 
 
About declaring property, she says there is no need to hide the information because eventually, your spouse will find out. She says disclosing to your fiancé that you own property does not necessarily mean that you should re-register it in both you and their names when you marry. That, Nalwoga says, can be done when acquired together as a couple. 
 
“Many women get excited and register their personal property in the name of the person they plan to marry, which is unwise because you can never be sure about the future.”  
 
Nalwoga advises that personal property acquired before marriage should be kept as insurance, so that when adversities occur, there is something to fall back on. 
 
She adds that many people do not divulge information about themselves, perhaps for fear of being judged or misunderstood or  rejected. 
 
The Rev. Sam Ruteikara says it is  important to reveal as much information as possible before and during marriage. He explains that, for example, revealing how much property one has does not give their partner automatic entitlement to it.  
 
“Say, if I had 10 houses, I would have to tell my wife about them, but that does not mean they are hers. I could give her one of them as a gift and that would be her property, even when we have a joint marital home.”  
 
On children one has had before, Rutaikara emphasises that they must never be hidden. 
“Telling my wife-to-be or wife about my other children does not directly mean that they will be living with us. It is only a question of openness. It would be terrible for your partner to get this information from someone else.” 
 
Rev. Ruteikara explains that when there is no candidness in your relationship and your partner finds out from outsiders what concerns you, there will be disharmony, suspicions and at worst, breaking up. 
 
Pastor Mark Kigozi, a marriage counsellor, says: “Everyone needs enough information in order to make an informed decision.”
 
“When you are in a relationship and you hope or plan to wed, no topic should be off limits. “If you feel by revealing everything about you, you will be rejected, then perhaps you are not meant to be with that particular person. This is because acceptance is an important aspect in a relationship. If your partner loves and wants to spend the rest of their life with you, they should accept you with all that concerns you.” 
 
Besides children from past relationships and property one possesses, more information must be divulged before the couple makes the final decision to wed.
 
This helps you to avoid future troubles. Whether or not you have been married before, family or personal medical history, religious orientation, and educational level are some of the details one must reveal to their partner.  
 
Kigozi says there are advantages and disadvantages of divulging information, but he stresses that the disadvantages of not being open far outweigh the disadvantages.  
 
He says besides living in guilt, withholding information by any of the spouses will, in the long run, cause mistrust, misunderstandings, conflicts and at worst,  marriage breakup, once that  information leaks.  
 
“When you divulge information to your partner before you get married and he leaves you, be glad because it is better to have a broken relationship than a broken marriage,” Kigozi states.   
 
He counsels that when people divulge information extensively to their partners, the possible conflicts are dealt with early enough and ultimately, this saves the marriage. Kigozi cites an example of partners who belong to different religious faiths, say the man is Muslim and the woman is not.
 
If the man is open about it before they wed, and the woman is okay with it, then she is aware of what to expect later in her marriage, for example, polygamy, which is allowed in Islam. 
 
As much as divulging information may help in sustaining a marriage to a greater extent, some people are not always comfortable opening up; because there is fear of being rejected, they end up being secretive, which later affects their marriage. 
 
It is harder now for people to give information since they find the suitors on their own. In the past the wide family, mostly elders, were involved and clandestine work was done to find out all the issues concerning the other partner before they finally agreed on the marriage arrangement. 
 
Joseph Musalo, a counselling psychologist, says in the past, parents insisted on their children marrying from a family they knew about.  
 
“Nowadays, people meet on the street and at parties, and without knowing much about each other, they marry,” he says. 
To some extent, Musalo says, the arrangement where parents were involved in choosing their children’s suitors helped and marriages were successful, because there was transparency. The only disadvantage was that a couple would not have a chance to bond. 
 
He advises that people should reveal information gradually and carefully during courtship so that their partners do not rely on rumours, one of the worst enemies of marriage.
 
Information you must reveal
 
Children from past relationships
 
Level of education
 
Age
 
Health status, especially genetic and communicable diseases
 
Property and financial stand
 
Past marriages
 
 
 

Haunted by the past: How much personal data should you disclose to your spouse?

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author