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Discussing a previous marriage

Like Tom, many Australians who have been previously married may one day need to fess up about their past relationship. Today, Jo Lamble advises Tom on how to approach such a discussion.

Q. Tom
I have been married before and although I don’t really keep quiet about it, my wife and I haven’t told our adult children. Should we? And if so, how do I broach the subject?

A. I suppose there is no reason why you’d have to tell your adult children that you’ve been married before, so if you’d prefer not to, you’re not doing anything wrong. If they did find out by another means, I guess they’d wonder why you hadn’t mentioned it but you could easily explain that you didn’t see any reason to bring it up.

But I can’t help thinking that telling them provides you with a wonderful opportunity. Without criticising your first wife, you can tell them why that marriage failed and why your marriage to their mother has worked. There are always lessons to be learned after a relationship breakdown and these lessons can be shared. Since they know you to be a committed family man, they shouldn’t judge you for having been married before and so there shouldn’t be any negative fallout.

As to how to broach the subject, an opening might come up when one of your children or grandchildren gets engaged or moves in together. Talk of commitment can trigger a conversation about what your relationship history has taught you. Starting the conversation with: Did I ever tell you I’ve been married before? Taking a casual approach can show them that it’s not a big deal for you or your wife and so it shouldn’t be a problem for them.

Jo Lamble

Related articles:
Time to be frank about finances
Spotting relationship warning signs
Do sexless marriages survive?

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