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Please help me, I’m destroying myself and my marriage from inside and I don’t know why or how to stop it. I don’t care that my wife has had more sexual partners than me, what pains me is a particular month in history before she even met me. Many years ago now she got pregnant, due to a lost condom inside her, with a man who was cheating on her. After this she also proceeded to have sex with two other men including a friend with benefits and a man who then became her boyfriend. After becoming pregnant, she ultimately decided to have an abortion. I just cannot understand why she didn’t take the morning after pill, after what must have been a scary incident, then proceeded to sleep with another two men. I know the exact month and year when the pregnancy occurred and the place where it happened. Whenever I see or hear references to that year and that particular place it tears me apart.
Why? I think about the events of that month at least every few weeks, despite now knowing for nine years, shortly after we met. I have subsequently married her and we now have two beautiful children together. Despite my ridiculous obsession I deeply love her and indeed respect her, I just cannot get over that one particular month and her behaviour, which to me seems totally out of character. My wife is truly a sensible and clever lady. I told her of my latest episode a few days ago and she told me that she thought we were over it. To tell the truth I don’t know if I will ever get over it but desperately want to. I know it’s totally irrational and her past is her past yet it still frequently destroys me and eats away at me. Please help me before I destroy my marriage from within.
-Husband In Doubt
Dear Husband in Doubt,
The past can haunt us if we let it. It can also destroy marriages. Even clever and sensible humans screw up. This chapter that your wife experienced in her life was a period of the past before your history together began. But you keep revisiting. Why is that?
Most relationships come with past history of previous partners; some with more baggage than others. Ryan and I had a two year breakup before getting back together which was a hazy period away from each other’s lives. We decided once we were back together to leave the past where it was; behind us. It was the only way we could grow a healthy relationship together. What is the point of spending time mourning over a past you have no control over? I’ve never regretted it.
You have a choice to make, continue resenting your wife for this period of unfamiliar behavior, or commit to writing off problems of the past
You have a choice to make, continue resenting your wife for this period of unfamiliar behavior, or commit to writing off problems of the past and consciously engage in moving past this. If you’ve been struggling with forgiveness of these emotions and memories repeatedly, I would seek out marital counseling or individual counseling, depending on what you and your wife find most appropriate.
Also realize that while her past sexual behaviors may seem promiscuous, it had to be an emotional and physically distressing time for her. How do you think this makes her feel when you consistently bring it up? Holding on to skeletons in her closet, which you have no control over, will only bring you and your marriage down. It is what you said, a ridiculous obsession. Think of the mental clarity and additional love you can extend to your wife and your children once your mind is freed of this.
Dear Husband in Doubt,
You love your wife. You two have been together for 9 years and at this point are married with beautiful children. It sounds like there are many aspects of your marriage and your relationship with your wife that are in a healthy, good place. However, her past decisions are eating at you. You want to feel differently about your wife’s past and know that if you don’t make some changes, this will destroy your marriage.
Given that you knew about your wife’s history from the beginning and still decided to pursue the relationship, I think the problem and the solution here lies with you. There is no going back about the decisions that she made, as you said yourself, “her past is her past.” Therefore, it is going to be up to you to find a way to bring yourself to the present. I have to assume part of your difficulty in letting go here comes from your beliefs about her decisions. These beliefs have resulted in judgement towards your wife and hardness in your heart towards her.
Given that you knew about your wife’s history from the beginning and still decided to pursue the relationship, I think the problem and the solution here lies with you.
It will be important for you to evaluate and process through some of these beliefs. You may find it helpful to have an individual therapist for this work. Therapy can be a safe place for you to better understand and work through some of these beliefs without requiring your wife to be there every step of the way. Once you have had some time to evaluate your beliefs and heart towards your wife’s past, I hope you two can have a reconciliation. You don’t have to agree with her past decisions, but you can find a way to understand and forgive.
If you can get to that place, it will still be important that you and your wife talk through this to process it. Again, therapy may be a safe place to do this. What happened in the past is in the past but you and your marriage are here in the present. It may not be easy but you and your wife can find a way to heal from the past and save your marriage.