Normally, I love to know people’s backgrounds. Where they came from helps me figure out why they are who they are. I don’t often ask questions, but usually let things come out organically, only asking questions to supplement that.
My partner Trydaen is, well, fairly closed up about his past – not that I think that it is an on purpose, to spite me thing. It seems to me that he doesn’t find it terribly relevant to the present – which is almost exactly opposite of how I see the past, but I can understand it fairly well. I’ve found that the more time I spend with him, the more little tidbits come out about his childhood through his 20s – including about his marriage.
He was technically married (but separated) when I met him and several years later when we started to date, but I never met her – I know nothing about her, short of the little bit I have gleaned from stories/context from him. It seems that she was not relevant anymore to his relationships at that point in time, so why bother? This has bothered me more and more over time – this was clearly someone he cared about enough to say yes to marriage when she proposed it and spent a large chunk of time with. Why? What happened there to sour him to notion of ever doing it again? It clearly didn’t sour her – she was remarried six months after the divorce was finalized.
But I have never known how to ask about that. How do I treat it? As I would, with all the curiosity I have? Cautiously? I don’t actually know whether it is a sore spot for him or whether it is simply no longer relevant, so no longer worth speaking about?
So I am trying. And I am proud of myself for that. When we were watching an episode of Bones a few weeks ago and (spoiler alert) Booth and Bones get married and Bones’ dad gives her away (after a speech from her about how it is just to make him happy and not a symbol of the passing of bride from father to husband) I got up the courage to ask whether his ex-wife had been given away by her father. He didn’t remember – didn’t think she had, but didn’t remember.
So that’s one thing. But what other questions can I ask to get to the why?