Wedding Woes

Dad's secret starter marriage

Dear Prudence,

After my parents split up, my brother found out via Google search that my dad had been married before my mom. We talked to her about it and she explained that he hadn’t wanted to tell us because it was an impulsive youthful marriage, they had divorced quickly, and he had been ashamed of it. She had kept his secret out of respect for him. We all thought it was a bit dramatic but not that big a deal, and moved on with our lives.

Now my dad has been dating an amazing woman for over five years. I recently found out that he hasn’t told her about the first marriage. Everyone in Dad’s family knows except her. Dad doesn’t want to tell her for the same reason he didn’t want to tell me and my brother. Maybe it’s irrational, but this is freaking me out. Both he and this woman are divorced (him ostensibly from “just” my mom), so it just seems strange that he’s kept this a secret. Now it’s been so long, and I’m terrified that she’s going to be hurt if it comes out. Honestly, I think she’d be well within her rights to be angry. Since my brother found out through the sheer accident of googling our dad, and literally anyone could accidentally let it slip I don’t know what to do. Is there a good way for him to tell her? Am I out of my mind for thinking that he’s gonna be in trouble?

—Mystery First Marriage

Re: Dad's secret starter marriage

  • While I see where LW is going with this - bad idea to lie about previous relationship - at the same time it's not LW's place to say anything.

    Also how the fuck do you find out about this shit via google? What prompted brother to look it up?
    mrsconn23charlotte989875sparklepants41SP29
  • My (rip)BFF got married when he was 17 because he thought it meant automatic emancipation from his parents. It does not. He and the girl soon parted ways but didn’t bother getting an official divorce until years later when she wanted to marry someone else. 

    Another friend had a marriage end so bad that most people didn’t know about it because it was too painful for him to bring up.

    For all we know the marriage lasted a week after 17days of dating... stay out of the man’s business 
    mrsconn23charlotte989875sparklepants41
  • While I do agree with you all that the LW needs to leave this info for her dad to tell the g/f, I do think she should talk to her dad about it.

    She could mention her concerns that, more than likely, it is going to come out at some time anyway.

    In addition, if the dad ever wants to marry this woman, he absolutely needs to tell her.  I'm pretty sure it could be grounds for annulment, if he doesn't. 

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  • With habits like these, I'm SO SHOCKED he's on his 3rd marriage. 
    image
    mrsconn23southernbelle0915MissKittyDangerkimmiinthemitten
  • GBCKGBCK
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
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    family secrets of things that are publicly known AND a matter of public record...that can't POSSIBLY go wrong
    short+sassy
  • one of my BFF told a few of us that she was actually on her 3rd marriage, and and current husband doesn't know about the first.

    that was an interesting bombshell for MNO. 

    husband #1 was her high school sweetheart. they eloped and moved overseas (SE Asia), and lived there for about 2 years. Her husband got really sick, and ended up passing away. (Medical care wasn't great, and they lived in a remote area.) After she settled the estate, she travelled around for a bit while she was mourning and then moved back home. She got married again in her late 20s, and got divorced about 5 years ago, and is now remarried for 3 years to current husband. She knows that her parents and the friends won't say anything to current husband, but has purposefully keeps him away from her extended family that knew husband #1
    charlotte989875
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
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    My brother's MIL is his FIL's second wife. They have never kept it a secret from the kids. It's not talked about a lot, but it was and is used as a teaching moment! His FIL freely admits it was a mistake. He acknowledges that he ignored red flags and advice from people older and wiser than himself that he shouldn't marry her. He did and less than a year later, she ran off with the contents of his bank account (which was being saved to pay off something) resulting in him being in debt for many years. He chose more wisely with SIL's mother, and they've been married for more than three decades. 

  • While I do agree with you all that the LW needs to leave this info for her dad to tell the g/f, I do think she should talk to her dad about it.

    She could mention her concerns that, more than likely, it is going to come out at some time anyway.

    In addition, if the dad ever wants to marry this woman, he absolutely needs to tell her.  I'm pretty sure it could be grounds for annulment, if he doesn't. 

    Probably not grounds for an annulment actually. 
    MyNameIsNot
  • While I do agree with you all that the LW needs to leave this info for her dad to tell the g/f, I do think she should talk to her dad about it.

    She could mention her concerns that, more than likely, it is going to come out at some time anyway.

    In addition, if the dad ever wants to marry this woman, he absolutely needs to tell her.  I'm pretty sure it could be grounds for annulment, if he doesn't. 

    Probably not grounds for an annulment actually. 


    I'm curious!  I'd heard that deceiving a spouse about the number of times one has been married and the number of children one has (and know about) was grounds for annulment in most jurisdictions.  It would make sense to me, though "common sense" and laws don't always go together, lol.

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  • While I do agree with you all that the LW needs to leave this info for her dad to tell the g/f, I do think she should talk to her dad about it.

    She could mention her concerns that, more than likely, it is going to come out at some time anyway.

    In addition, if the dad ever wants to marry this woman, he absolutely needs to tell her.  I'm pretty sure it could be grounds for annulment, if he doesn't. 

    Probably not grounds for an annulment actually. 


    I'm curious!  I'd heard that deceiving a spouse about the number of times one has been married and the number of children one has (and know about) was grounds for annulment in most jurisdictions.  It would make sense to me, though "common sense" and laws don't always go together, lol.

    Pretty sure it's state by state. In New York it isn't grounds for annulment; which is only granted if either/both spouses under 18 or unable to consent because of mental incapacity, either spouse unable to have intercourse, either spouse incurably mentally ill for at least 5 years, or consent was obtained by duress, fraud, or coercion. 
    short+sassySTARMOON44
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
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    Not sure about each state law, but my H has been married twice before me.  When applying for our marriage licence (NY), they require ALL divorce papers, including his first.  So um...if her dad and this gf do decide to get married, I think it would come out then, no?

  • Not sure about each state law, but my H has been married twice before me.  When applying for our marriage licence (NY), they require ALL divorce papers, including his first.  So um...if her dad and this gf do decide to get married, I think it would come out then, no?


    That's a distinct possibility also.  But not necessarily.

    My H has been married twice before.  He told me something about he'd need to have his divorce papers handy when we went to get our license, but I didn't grab his stack of papers at the clerk's office and look at them, lol.

    (Gasp!) Maybe I should have!  Maybe he's been married FOUR or FIVE times!

    Oh, he's a tricky one.  Being so nonchalant about his papers.  So I wasn't suspicious, lol.

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    charlotte989875
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
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    yeah and come to think of it, what real investigation was done on the clerks part?  She looked over his 2 divorce papers and then approved our licence.  I mean, what would stop anyone from just submitting the last one?  She didn't look it up or anything? 

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