Hello Loveawake: I have been married now for 6 months and have known my wife for 7 years. We are both 30 years old. During this time we have had our normal ups and downs and have been able to successfully work through them, usually after a day or so. I love my wife dearly and we have been talking about having kids and have just moved into a brand new house.
All of this has fallen apart lately. About 4 weeks ago we had a seemingly innocent conversation about our sexual history and about the number of partners we have slept with. We had a similar conversation 7 years ago and I was given a vague answer of 3 or 4 partners. We have built a life of great memories together so far and I have found her to be a great person who loves me, does not smoke or do drugs, hardly drinks and is no longer into the nightclub scene. Growing up, one of the things I had come to value in a partner is the ability to abstain from sex until marriage. My wife is very pretty and growing up in Australia, I was prepared to accept that she has had a sexual past. Anyway, at the end of the conversation, she had admitted that she had about 11 partners and when pressed, she admitted to 14. (all in a 3 year span)! When the conversation pressed on, I found out that she had had 1 night stands and used to pick up guys at nightclubs that she frequented. Now I look back at all her stories about nightclubbing and her flirting while drunk (in my presence) to the point of hugging and kissing those around her as a reminder of how she is (or was). If this is the number she did sleep with, what about the near misses! She has also had unprotected sex on occasions and has only recently had laser surgery to remove a wart virus (which affected our sex life). I cannot help but be horrified by her promiscuous past and have got very depressed about the details of her encounters. I have had sex myself but I was in long term relationships and had no where near the partners she has had. Now I cannot look at her and feel the same closeness that we have been used to. I cannot help but visualize all the guys having sex with her, sometimes as we are doing it. Horrible thoughts enter my head as I look at her and sometimes refer to her in my head as a "slut". I have not come across anything in my life as hard to overcome and have certainly not had to seek help before for anything. Sometimes I feel like getting even by sleeping around (I have thought about it only). I can't help but feel that maybe I missed out in my younger years by not having slept with a lot of women.
I feel that she has been able to experiment sexually and I haven't and it makes me feel a lot of hurt, jealousy and insecurity. We had such a big fight about our difference of opinion on this that we mentioned divorce already. We are hanging on desperately trying to find a way to solve this without leaving each other. I hope this reaches you and you can help. - Lance
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Dear Lance: You can bet that in any long-term relationship, sooner or later, some unforeseen past event will wreck havoc in your life. It has simply come sooner in your marriage, rather than later. This is your test and I really hope that you don't fail. Your wife opened up to you because it has probably been haunting her for a long time and she feels guilty not telling you the truth.
There is no such thing as a "seemingly innocent conversation about our sexual history," and quite frankly I am surprised you didn't know that a conversation like that would bring up things that could potentially hurt you. Many men have lovingly stated that they didn't want to know anything about ex-lovers because they intuitively knew that it would serve no purpose and would affect them negatively. It was not fair of you to make it seem safe for her to share her past with you, and then reject her for being honest.
She trusted you and now you are making her feel sorry that she did. If you continue this, she'll never open herself up again to you. She took a leap of faith and was completely honest with you about her past. If you are not understanding and sympathetic now, it may be the last time she ever takes that chance again. The past is over and it cannot be changed. Most of us come into a relationship with excess baggage, things we would like to change and experiences we wish had never happened. Your tenderness and love has the ability to heal her wounds and make her feel whole again. Don't waste this opportunity. It's a gift you can give her for the rest of your life together.
She needs a husband who loves her for the woman she is today. The most important words a woman can hear when she has shared something from her past that she is not proud of, is, "I love you, no matter what! Your past is over and it has nothing to do with the present or the future."
If you are not up to the task, then she really will be better off without you. She will not be able to live with someone who has disgust for her. The worst thing you can do, is stay married and then make her feel bad and guilty for something that cannot be changed. Today, as you said in your email, you have a woman who loves you, does not smoke or do drugs, hardly drinks and is no longer into the nightclub scene. I think after reading this email, you had better take her in your arms tonight and tell her how far she has come, how proud you are to be her husband, and what a wonderful mother she will be in the future. If you don't, I can guarantee that you will be searching for another perfect woman who doesn't exist. - Loveawake