Is it alright to mention the past?

by Nathan Chua

This part is tricky.  Yes, bringing up past hurts can really provide a spark to your relationship.  Maybe most of the time, it is the kind of spark that commences the whole chicken and egg argument, that you carry on through the unholy hours in your bedroom.  It’s one of those rare moments when something so unwanted, makes you lose track of how much time has gone by.  Oh!  It’s already three o’clock in the morning.  Well, as the adage goes, time flies when you’re having fun, as well as a major fracas!

Yes, there is wisdom in letting sleeping dogs lie.  The situation is bad enough as it is.  Bringing up past deeds will only make the argument broaden its scope.  If we use a logical fallacy to describe such reasoning, it is ad hominem.  For there are no exceptions to the rule that we all, make mistakes.  Getting into a humongous fight with your partner, just because he or she has made mistakes in the past, is simply unfair.  It’s almost like demanding your dog to meow or purr, because that way you no longer have to care for a cat.  Most of us are not two in one, let alone all in one.  Sadly, that is what most of us grew up thinking.  There’s a perfect romantic relationship out there waiting for us to just discover.

On the other hand, we might ask, then what about airing our grievances or complaints to our partner?  Isn’t it just right that we assert our hopes and dreams in our relationship to avoid the build-up of resentments?  Absolutely!  I think it is a now well-known marital counselor, who told her story of having parents who seemed to have the perfect relationship, only to see them divorce towards the twilight years of their lives.  She never saw her parents have any major fights, and they seemed to have had everything worked out, until one day, they had them in a family meeting, to tell them about the grim news.

It is rather tricky.  Here are some tips to make complaints work to making your relationship closer and better:

  • Don’t wait too long or until you have suffered many hurtful instances, before bringing up the past. It is always better to be more current.
  • Use the proper tone and language. Use the, “When you…I feel…I wish that you could…,” statement.
  • Make time to talk. It is always better to talk about this stuff when you’re both in a fine mood and ready to chat.
  • When you find that your partner is in a nasty mood, deescalate. Do not throw fuel to the fire by going on the cycle of determining who did what first, or who’s right and who’s wrong.

Remember, neither should you be conflict avoidant, nor too fussy with little nagging injuries to your heart.  Choose your battles well, but also make sure to assert your wishes at the right time.