How to Deal with the Past in Your Relationship
Updated: Jan 10
People often say that "past is past". But when it comes to relationships, is there really nothing to look back on? How do you really deal with the past in your relationships?
Two out of three of my recent major quarrels with my husband have been about some issue from the past. Admittedly, I do have a habit of bringing back things from past--not really randomly, but usually when there's a "new detail" from an unresolved issue we've had in the past. I get frustrated about truth being withheld from me early on, and my husband gets frustrated that I can't just move on from the issue.
Well, after two rounds of crying (c/o me usually haha) and much discussion, here are our thoughts.
How to Deal with the Past In Your Relationships
1. Look back on things to resolve from the past, be honest about it, and move on!
Since we started off as friends and with my husband as my sounding board, he knew some things about my past--especially my romantic entanglements. On top of that, we had to consciously take time to share about people and experiences from our past that we think may affect us and our future. We unloaded our baggage early on and shared our missteps from the past...that's why if there's an issue from the past that was not fully & correctly shared before, we end up in conflict.
We had three episode when we were still boyfriend/girlfriend where truth was "gradually" shared...and it appeared to the other party that there was intent to cover up and lie, when it wasn't really the case. It was painful but thank God we were able to get through those things!
Now that we're married and it happened again, we have decided that we should just be completely honest with each other especially about issues from the past. Yes, even if the other person may get hurt! Truth delayed (or truth found out from a different method) over a truth spoken with love as early as possible.
Don't get me wrong - I don't mean that you should share random items out of the blue. There is still a proper time for everything, but don't put it off! As early as you can share what you need to share, be honest about it! And what should you do after sharing? If it's something that is not life-threatening or not a make-or-break issue, then:
Agree on how to move forward, and
ACTUALLY move forward!
I have a married friend whose husband had a bout of infidelity in the past. If you see them now, you probably wouldn't believe it! They're so loving and solid as a couple! What she taught me was that dwelling on the past and letting it haunt you--even if you're the one wronged--will just cause harm to you both. If you really intend to move forward with the relationship in good standing, settle these things from the past, and move on by God's grace!
Apart from addressing issues in the past for your relationship though, there are other things we have learned that we should spend more time recalling and remembering. You should also:
2. Look back on how you started, and how far you've come
We all have different stories on how we started with our relationships. Our love story is just plain crazy. You can read about it in high-level in our About page, but what we didn't share there is that our courtship season and first three months of being in a relationship were crazy, intense, conflict-filled, and fragile. We were always almost on the brink of splitting up because of factors that were beyond our control. When I look at us now and when I recall how challenging October 2019 to March 2020 was, I am filled with gratitude with how far God has taken us! Truly only by His grace!
3. Look back on what you promised to one another
If you haven't seen it yet, we posted our wedding vows here (Natz's wedding vow and Meki's wedding vow) not for likes or to make you giddy, but for us to have easy access to it and to never forget what we promised to each other and to the Lord. Sharing it in public also is our way of inviting all of you to help hold us accountable especially if we're not in good terms :) As I mentioned in the first point, we've had lots of disagreements recently, and reading my vow to him helped to re-center me on my promise to support him and serve him at all times.
4. Look back on why you're together
If you want to continue having a purposeful and Christ-centered relationship, it's crucial to ALWAYS go back to your WHY. Why are you together? Why are you a couple? Why are you boyfriend-girlfriend or married? This is crucial because it defines if you are building on a strong & sturdy or a flimsy foundation. For my husband and I, the purpose of Christian marriage is not just for 'happiness' but for holiness & sanctification, and to expand God's Kingdom together. When we go back to this, we are removed from the tendency to be too obsessed with one another, and we are brought back to our focus which is Christ and the church. If your WHY as a couple cannot go beyond "we just love each other" or "we just want to be together", then we suggest that you take some time to talk and assess what really is the PURPOSE of you being in a relationship.
Past may be past, but there is some looking back that can be healthy. If you are in a relationship, may you spent some time today with your partner to look back on these things. And if you are single and still praying for your future husband/wife, may this help prepare and hone you for that season.