By Pastor Taiwo Odubiyi
As Fred and his wife, Moni got down from their car, they saw Onome. Moni said hello and involuntarily looked at Fred. He greeted Onome briefly and followed Moni into their apartment.
Moni remembered the past and all the pain came over her again but she determined she would not allow her emotions to colour her mood. She would not let her feelings show to Fred. She entered the kitchen and cooked. Afterward, they sat at the table and began to eat together.
Fred was making conversations, and Moni answered quietly, without laughing much. He raised his eyes to look at her once, sensing that her mood seemed to have changed. What could the problem be? Or could it be his imagination?
Moni struggled to push the pain away. She had to. Fred was making efforts these days to love her and she must encourage him. She noticed that he had finished the juice in his glass cup. “Do you want me to pour more juice for you?” She asked nicely.
He nodded, “Yes, thank you.”
As she quietly sat with him later to watch TV, she felt the issue of the past was something she would have to bear alone and she prayed that God would help her overcome it.
Fred eventually asked, “Are you very happy?”
“Yes,” she tried to smile. How could she be sure it was really over between Fred and Onome?
“You seem a little withdrawn.”
She shook her head. “There’s nothing.”
“There’s nothing as in – there’s really nothing or there’s nothing as in – leave me alone?”
She kept quiet.
“Let’s go in.” He told her quietly.
She followed him into the bedroom.
Behind closed doors, he held her strong. “If there’s anything at anytime, I want us to discuss it. We should clarify issues as soon as possible; that’s what the pastor said. And if I seem to be forgetting my promises, I want you to remind me.”
Should she mention the real issue? She began to think. He sensed her hesitation and asked, “Are you thinking about something?”
She shrugged, “Well, it’s just that seeing Onome now brought the past back to my memory.” There, she had said it.
He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.” ……
…… It’s just that the pain comes sometimes and refuses to go away. The same thing happened when I saw her last week.”
He tightened his arms around her.
She really needed to be reassured so she asked softly, “Is it really over between you?”
(Excerpts from ‘Tears On My Pillow’)
As I have said several times and mentioned in my novels and the book ’30 Things Wives Do That Hurt Their Husbands’, there are principles to be followed to have a healthy, good and lasting relationship. These principles are biblical.
One of these principles is that offenses should be forgiven and forgotten, which means that it should not be brought up again especially if your spouse has apologised for it. One of the Biblical Scriptures for this principle is 1Corinthians 13:5
Love does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1Corinthians 13:5 NIV)
Some people like referring to the past, quoting date, time, statements and names, to score points. Some others refer to the past because they have not forgiven their spouses for the offenses. Whatever the case may be, it is better not to bring it up again; let the sleeping dog lie, especially if the incident was in the past.
If you have a fresh issue with your spouse, keep to the facts of this particular issue as much as possible, and refrain from referring to the past or the past misdeed especially if he or she has apologised and has stopped doing it or it’s not likely it happens again. Bringing up the past shows that you are still dwelling on it, and of course, that could influence your attitude, affect the present and if not handled carefully could affect the future. This could prevent you and your marriage from moving forward.
In the story above, Moni was following this principle when she hesitated to bring up the issue of her husband’s affair with Onome, a fresh graduate.
The past misdeed should not be brought up especially in an argument. Don’t throw it at your spouse’s face. That will hurt and could get your spouse angry. It will not help matters, neither will it help your marriage or bring you closer to your spouse.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14 NIV)
Thinking about a past offense enlarges it in your mind. You cannot do anything about what has already happened. What you should do is pray about it, by asking God to heal your heart. Choose to forgive, choose to keep your home, let go of the past and don’t bring it up again.
When can the past hurt be brought up?
There are times when bringing up the past will be considered to be necessary and okay, and in line with another principle of a successful and healthy relationship – Communication.
- When it has injured your marriage
- When it still hurts deeply
- When it has not been dealt with
- When it is still going on
- When it can affect the future
- When you have an understanding spouse who is willing to work through the issues with you
In the novel ‘Tears On My Pillow’, Moni still had doubts and concerns. She hesitated to bring it up and finally did because Fred showed sincere concern and she knew she could discuss it with him. She did, and Fred assured her of his commitment to their marriage. If Fred did not show care or concern, she wouldn’t have talked about it, but the doubts would have remained in her heart and might cause problems in future.