As part of the church requirement in getting married, we attended a pre-marital seminar with our mentor and discipler Edric Mendoza. In one of the sessions, Edric told us about the importance of entering into the marriage with a clean slate and asked if there was anything that we had to admit to each other.
We both paused, Monique looks at me as if saying “Do you have anything to say or divulge?”. I find myself confessing “I have kept this a secret but I have a child”. She closes her eyes and puts a little smile on her face and says “with whom” and I replied “it was with the one from my second affair. He is 5 years old now.”
Our discipler acted really cool as if it was no big deal and mediated “Thanks Jong. How do we move on from this?” and I said “Well, I’ve been supporting the kid but I’ve never seen him. I dread the day when the boy grows up and looks for me and asks how come I’ve never been there for him.” Monique calmly replies, “if he is really your child, then it is the right thing to support him and be a father to him. But before we take full claim of this responsibility I have one request, lets have a DNA test first to see if it’s really yours.” Right then and there, I felt like being removed of a stake that was lodged in my heart. I was set free. I told the mother of the child the good news and we did the DNA test. The results came out and it turns out that it was never mine.
Had the results been “a perfect match” meaning, that the kid is mine, it would not make much difference. My confession of my “baggage” has already set me free. The DNA test simply freed me of the obligations I thought I had. Since then, I’ve always told the couples that we get to speak to how important it is to enter the marriage with a clean slate. If you start off the marriage hiding something — you will in the future make your spouse feel like “I never knew the person I married.” Why? Because you pretended to be somebody else.
So I reflected on, what if my discipler never gave us a chance to confess? I would be still hiding something in the closet for the rest of my life. I thought hard about “What was it that gave me green light to finally let it out?”. I will share here 3 things that makes it easier for your fiancee or spouse to want to start fresh.
1. Give it some time – For a confessing partner – they need enough courage to speak up. So give them space to do that. Even if you have all the evidence, allow them to figure out what they really want to say. When they open up, make sure you are really listening without judging first. Let them speak what is in their heart. Do not rush them or even threaten them. You need to know that during this time there are so many “What if’s” going on in the confessing person’s mind. Like “what if you can’t take it, what if you call or the wedding or break-up, what if the counselor or mediator is gone who will protect me?”. All those questions the one confessing needs to process and overcome.
2. Ensure a Safe Haven – As the person confesses, make sure, that you can handle the truth. We know of so many couples that not only go hysterical and ballistic but they take it against the person and even want revenge. It is important for the confessing partner to know that he can be honest and open. They need to know that they can trust you with his deepest darkest secret. They need a place where they can come clean. That person desires to be set free and if possible start anew. Imagine a thief surrendering himself to the police when there was no case even filed against him. The policeman would probably wonder and not know what to do.
I know it’s hard and I didn’t say it won’t hurt – but give a lot of credit to the honesty because in reality it could have been kept in secret forever. Besides “What you don’t know won’t hurt right?” or maybe it is better if you found out through other people when it’s already too late to back off. Definitely Not!
3. Choose to Forgive – This part is where the rubber meets the road. As we counsel couples we ask them “What is your ultimate end goal? Do you want this relationship to work?” If the answer is yes, then you must choose to forgive. As the aggrieved party there is a tendency to get stuck by asking the questions that have no right answer. Why did it have to happen? What could or should have I done? Remember this is now the past. It is something you cannot revisit and redo. Should you react negatively in this situation, you can be assured that this is the last time he or she will ever confess to you.
I recommend instead to discuss on how to move forward and not get back on that dark path again. Restoration can only take place if we choose to give the person the chance to change by extending kindness that they do not deserve. This is not letting them free from the consequences of their actions instead allowing them to be a better person by taking full responsibility for their mistakes and allowing them to fix it.
Stuff that needs to be confessed are not just immorality. It can be your financial position, your work, your debts… It can be anything. I believe almost everyone has them. By the way, in case you didn’t know — this is called GRACE. And if I can just give my last tip here, it is “It’s easier to give grace to others when you can admit to yourself that you are a receiver of grace yourself.” During those moments when you find it hard to forgive — remember, You are a sinner yourself but God forgave you.
Read more of John and Monique Ong’s Before I Do articles at weddingsatwork.com/category/waw-before-i-do/.
- About John & Monique Ong:
John is a pastor at Revelation City Church, Scuba Diving instructor and owns Imagine Nation photo + Video. He is a graduate of business management at DLSU and took up Masteral in Marketing in the same school and is currently in the Pastoral counseling course at Asian Theological Seminary. Monique is a creative wife / help mate to John, a wedding hosts and heads Post Ad ventures (an Events Management company), a youth pastor in Revelation and writes in their blog called “an ounce of faith”. She took Tourism in UP Diliman.