Martin* and I were married two years ago on Valentine’s Day. Our relationship was a whirlwind one; we dated for just six months before he proposed to me, and three months later we tied the knot in a simple but romantic and intimate ceremony with close friends and family in attendance.
Now, two years into our marriage, I am still deeply in love with Martin. In fact, we plan to start a family of our own very soon. However, every time we discuss the issue of having children, I start feeling immense guilt from deep within me. This is because of a secret I have been keeping from Martin all this time.
What makes my situation even more unsettling is the fact that my own family is in on this secret. While Martin is regarded as part of our family in every other sense, we all decided to work in cahoots to keep him in the dark about my past.
Seven years ago, when I was only 19, I found out that I was pregnant. At that time I was in a stable relationship with my then-boyfriend, a classmate in university. When I found out about my pregnancy, we had only been dating for about a year. To cut a long story short, he was not excited about this surprise at all, and we ended up breaking up… which resulted in me taking on the full responsibility of having the baby, with the support of my family.
My parents were incredibly supportive of my decision to keep the baby, and I took a year off my studies to give birth and raise my daughter, whom I named Nicole*.
When Nicole was just three months old, my father offered to pay for me to complete my degree in Australia, rather than continue at the local university. My sister, who is 12 years older than I am and was already married with a toddler at the time, offered to care for Nicole while I was away.
I enrolled in a four-year degree course in Sydney, and that was where I met Martin in my final year. During those four years, I returned home two to three times every year, and spent most of my time with Nicole at my sister’s home. Nicole had started calling my sister “mummy” and my sister was concerned this might upset me initially, but I assured her that I was alright with it. If we corrected Nicole and told her that I was actually her real mummy, we thought she might be confused, considering her young age.
So Nicole grew up with my sister as her “mummy” and me, her biological mother, as her “yi-yi” (auntie). It hurts sometimes when I think about it, but all that matters is that she is loved and happy.
My decision not to tell Martin about Nicole has started to weigh heavily on me recently, as we prepare to embark on the next phase of our marriage. I imagine us having children together and me being a mother to them, lovingly nurturing them as a mother normally does, and I feel so guilty towards both Nicole and Martin. I was not able to be a real mother to Nicole, and have become a lying wife to Martin because I have not told him the truth.
I also worry that Martin might be unable to accept all this; not because he will take issue with the fact that I have a daughter, because he is a wonderfully thoughtful and understanding person, but that I have been dishonest with him. I understand that I will have to come clean with Martin before we have children of our own, and I will definitely make everything right again before long.
I wish to be the best mother I can be to Nicole, and any other children Martin and I will have in future, to make up for the times I have been selfish towards them. I also want to let the truth come out once and for all, and be an honest wife to a husband who has been nothing but forthright and genuine with me.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
This story first appeared in Singapore Women's Weekly.