My sister is marrying someone with a criminal record. Apparently, she’s known about this for a long time and is still marrying him! She won’t tell me or anyone in the family what he was in jail for and I am feeling very uncomfortable supporting this union. How can I feel better?
Dear Jail House,
If you can’t support this union, then try focusing on supporting your sister. I’m assuming you know your sister pretty well — why don’t you trust her to make a decision like this? While the context of the arrest and crime can make a big difference (did he just get wrapped up in something that's more mischief than criminal as a kid or was it something more serious and more recent?), I think it’s pretty cool that she isn’t airing all of her fiance’s dirty laundry to the rest of the family, she’s showing loyalty and care — two essential pieces to any relationship.
That said, it’s a rough situation to be in as a sibling, but if she’s not going to tell you, and you want to have a relationship with the both of them, then you have to accept her choice.
As for you and your soon-to-be brother-in-law, can you find ways to give him a chance to prove himself? I’m speculating, but his previous family relationships may have taken a serious hit because of his jail time. Can you and the rest of your family offer him meaningful family relationships?
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, the second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a recent Ensign article on the topic of love that:
“We are created in the image of our heavenly parents; we are God's spirit children. Therefore, we have a vast capacity for love — it is part of our spiritual heritage. What and how we love not only defines us as individuals; it also defines us as a church. Love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of (Jesus) Christ.”
I really believe the words of this quotation. I’m not saying your sister is correct in withholding this information from you, but I do believe that if you focus on accepting him and seeing his value rather than forcing your sister to divulge the details of his past, you will begin to feel peace, and you will feel better. I've seen this course bless my own life, and I know you can do it!
Let us know how it goes!
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P.S. If you still want to know what the crime was, try a public records or a background search. But remember you may wish that you'd left it alone because it's likely that it won't change the fact that he's going to be a member of your family.
Dear Readers: Do you think her sister has an obligation to share her fiance’s past? How can a family love a new spouse that they would not have chosen?