Q: I'm about to get married to the woman of my dreams. She knows I was married before; what she doesn't know is that the marriage broke up because I was a schmuck. Ethically speaking, how much do I need to tell her?
A) You have a right to privacy, but a relationship that begins with massive deception has little chance of long term success. Even JDate, where people routinely avoid exposing their dark side, suggests that profiles include a response to the question, "What I've Learned from Past Relationships." If the cause of your failed marriage somehow never came up before, at the very least, you and your fiancée should come to a mutual agreement as to whether sordid details of all past relationships are off limits.
But it would be much better to come clean. There are many shadings of schmucky behavior in marriage, ranging from rape to refusing to put down the toilet seat, but anything resembling either cheating or domestic violence would be relevant enough to warrant full disclosure.
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Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Hammerman on Ethics: Coming Clean with a Fiancée
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