Peter Griffiths Columns Print This Page
Remarks Made About The Past

Western Producer  August 19, 1993

Q: I’m well into middle age. I’ve been married now, this time, for about ten years. Before I knew my husband, I was in two serious relationships that didn’t work out. Normally, he and I get along very well, but he still throws my past in my face. He accuses me of being no good, wanting to go out with former boyfriends, and not being able to change my ways. I made the mistake of not being totally honest with him at the start. Now he won’t believe me. He says I can’t be trusted. He’s a very kind arid soft-hearted person, but he can also be very hard as well. I love this man dearly. I don’t know what I’d do without him. He was in a number of earlier relationships as well, but they don’t seem to count. I feel that whatever he did before I met him is his own business, not mine. What should I do, loving him the way I do?

A: You can let his comments continue to hurt you as they have in the past. Or, you can decide that, since you can’t control what he says or does, you don’ t have to feel responsible for it, or to hurt. He can react foolishly, jealously, or keep focusing on the past. But you don’t have to react along with him. This involves detaching yourself emotionally from situations where you are being hurt. It’s like pulling back to a safe zone, where his actions or comments can’t get to you as easily. It’s a safety mechanism designed to protect you from further harm. He may not like your doing so, but you do it to protect yourself, not to hurt him. It’s like putting emotional insulation around yourself so he can’t get at you.

Nobody can put another person’s past behind them. You’ve been honest about your errors. You’ve done all you can about the past. Your husband has to decide if he will let go of the past, and if he doesn’t you may have to use the protective skills that I’ve outlined above.

You can also adopt a personal policy of taking things, one day at a time. By doing so, you therefore have the right, not to have to respond to him, if he brings up the past. You can’t control what he does. But, you can control what you do in response.

The following poem "Just One Day” may help you with this task.

“There are two days in every week about which we need not worry.
Two days which need to be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is YESTERDAY with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders.
All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday.
The other day about which we need not worry is TOMORROW, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance.
Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow’s sun will rise either in splendour, or behind a mask of cloud, but it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet, unborn.
That leaves only one day - TODAY.
Anyone can fight the battles of just one day.
It’s only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down.
It’s not the experience of today that drives people mad.
It’s the remorse or bitterness about something which happened yesterday, and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.
Let us, therefore, journey, but ONE DAY AT A TIME.”