Wifey Wednesday: Getting Over Your Husband’s Sexual Past

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you can all comment on it, or link up a post of your own that talks about marriage to encourage the rest of us!

Today I want to talk about something I get asked quite a bit: how do you stop doubting yourself because of your husband’s sexual past? How  do you stop feeling jealous of your husband’s former lovers, or stop worrying that he enjoyed sex with ex-girlfriends more than with you, his wife?

Getting Over Your Husband's Sexual Past

Now, it used to be that this wasn’t the topic for polite conversation in Christian circles, but I think that’s changed. When I was researching my new book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I surveyed 2000 women and about 400 men. And what I found was that of Christians, only 40% reported being virgins on their wedding night. So that’s a lot of people, even in the church, who are dealing with sexual baggage. And some sexual baggage is really hard to dump–especially when it’s part of your husband’s sexual past, and not just your own.

So I want to talk about this, even if it makes some uncomfortable, because I know many women are really struggling with this and want a safe place to talk about it and to go for answers.

Let’s look at a very common scenario: a guy has several sexual partners before he’s married. Maybe he even lived with someone before. He hasn’t talked about it much, but you know that he was quite adventurous in bed, or that he likely he tried a whole lot of stuff. Then you got married. And you? You were a virgin when you were married, or perhaps you had sex a few times but it was awkward and certainly not something to remember fondly.

And now when you’re making love, you feel like you have to live up to this image that YOU’VE created in your mind about what your husband experienced with other women. If he ever asks to try something new, you always wonder, “did SHE do this with him?” If you have a hard time achieving orgasm, you wonder, “am I a disappointment to him because he could satisfy another woman more? Am I frigid? Does he wish he was back with her?”

This can be even more difficult for women who marry a divorced man, or even a widower. “Does he miss her?”

A lot of women are plagued by questions like this–even women who are married to guys who swear up and down that they don’t want these other women and that they wish they hadn’t even had those relationships. This is one of the reasons, incidentally, that it’s so important to wait for marriage. These comparisons are very deadly.

But we still need to move on, so here are some thoughts:

1. You are Both New Creations

The most important thing you both need to do is to commit to living and believing 2 Corinthians 5:17: if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. And not just that, but at your wedding “the two became one” in every sense of the word. You have something with your husband that is truly new.

In fact, I’d even have a ceremony–maybe a special dinner, or think up something symbolic you can do, like buying a butterfly necklace or something–where you agree that you are both new creations, and what you have is new and beautiful, and the old doesn’t matter anymore. And then you need to ask forgiveness from him for doubting him because of his past, and you need to commit to loving him here and now and not second guessing him. You need to promise that you will only see him through the prism of your own marriage, and not everything that you’re afraid went on before.

And then ask him to do the same thing. Ask him to think only of you, and not to worry or obsess over anything that happened in the past. You’re new! And make a commitment that from now on you both want to jump in and learn how both of you work together.

2. Take Every Thought Captive

We don’t have to entertain every thought that comes into our heads. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” In other words, when you have a thought, take it out, examine it, and then dismiss it if it doesn’t line up with what God says. And God says you are new creations!

So you need to stop entertaining those thoughts. One way to do this is to truly understand the difference between sex within God’s plan and outside of God’s plan. So when those thoughts hit you, say this to yourself:

I am going to stop assuming that he knows more about sex than I do because he had more sex than I did. Having sex is not the same as making love, and we are making love with each other. And to have a great sex life, we don’t need to understand “how to have sex”; we need to commit to learning how each of us individually works and what each of us individually needs. We’re both learning, because we both became truly and wonderfully sexual on the same date: your wedding night. Nothing else matters.

Did your husband sin? Yes. But don’t allow that sin to wreck your sex life now. Jesus paid the price; don’t keep punishing each other for it.

If it’s not a question of sin, though–if, for instance, you married a divorced man or a widower, you may have to tell yourself something slightly different, like this:

Making love is not a matter of understanding everything about sex; it’s understanding everything about each other. And it’s about how two people work together. We will make love differently than he did with his first wife, because we are different together than they were. And different is not worse! It’s us together that is beautiful, and we’re going to find our own equilibrium. If I keep worrying about his previous wife, then I’m robbing myself and my husband of being able to enjoy making love now.

3. Don’t Grill Him

If you’re already worried that he enjoyed sex more with someone else, grilling him on what he did with a past girlfriend/wife, or what he enjoyed most, or how she responded, is not going to help. It’s only going to give you images to fuel your anxiety.

Instead, be honest of your need for affirmation that you’re doing okay in the bedroom, but also, and perhaps this is the most important one:

4. Commit Yourself to Making Sex Great!

Then make it into a fun research project you do together. Tell him: I want to get to know all about you, and how you work, and what you like. And I want you to get to know me, too. I want you to figure out how to make me explode, because I’m not even sure I know. So let’s figure it all out together! If you do that, and move forward, then it’s unlikely either of you will be stuck in the past.

And try to have a new start. If you haven’t worked through the 31 Days to Great Sex, that’s a good place to start.

Finally, just make it a habit to show him what you like, and to give him lots of great feedback when it feels good! Guys like knowing that they can make their wives feel great.

It’s natural to wonder if you live up to your husband’s sexual past, but chances are your worrying is making it into a bigger problem than it needs to be. Your husband chose you. He wants to enjoy making love to you. Don’t let your insecurities rob you both of the intimacy God wants for you. God wants you to feel amazing, and to feel close, and to love each other. If you nurse jealousies, then you’re stopping something that God wants in your life. Who wants to do that?

Christian Marriage Advice

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you ever needed to get over a jealousy? Or do you have other thoughts to share? Leave a comment, or link up your own marriage post in the linky! Just leave the URL of your individual post below, and then remember to link back here so other people can read this great marriage encouragement!

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Comments

  1. Anonymous please says:

    Great post, but my personal scenario wasn’t there, and I could use your advice. My husband and I have been married over 25 years. We had sex with each other twice between getting engaged and our wedding (both Christians). We both asked each other’s forgiveness and God’s forgiveness before we got married. For the first couple of years, I had problems having sex with my husband because I felt so guilty about the premarital sex. I still occasionally feel guilty. I definitely still feel angry (and sad) that he didn’t respect me enough to wait for sex until we were married. (I realize I could have said no.) We’ve talked about it a couple of times over the years, and he has apologized again, but I still have those feelings sometimes. Your thoughts? Thanks!

    • I know that’s really a tough one, too. I have written about it before, and you can find that article here. I’d also encourage you to read this article about hitting the reset button on your sex life and starting over. Finally, just remember that while you may have done something wrong, Jesus already took the punishment for it. If you continue to punish yourself, and your husband, and deny both of you a great sex life, then it’s like saying Jesus’ death wasn’t enough. I know you don’t want to do that! So just meditate on how God really does want a new start for you, and doesn’t want you to bear this guilt today. I hope that helps!

    • I really don’t see that it should be an issue in your marriage NOW. You’re married. You’re united as one. To move forward and build a great marriage and a great sex life, you have to let go of the past. There are things that have transpired between me and my husband that we could hold on to – most of our relationship has been struggles. Harsh words, raised voices, accusations, abusive behavior, mental illness, even adultery – and yet we are so incredibly, amazingly happy now. Why? Because we both let go of the past. We both had a lot that we could have held on to, but we let it go because the past is the past, and we are both new creations. We are redeemed from our past sins and failures by the grace and strength of God. The things that happened may have been horrible, and they might have hurt, and honestly they could have destroyed us – but we worked through it, and because of those things we are stronger, we are closer, we are better as individuals and as a couple, and we really believe we’re happier because we have learned the meaning and strength of unconditional love, patience, forgiveness, and faith. Don’t let Satan put a wedge between you and your husband. The past is the past. Let it go.

  2. This was my scenario when my husband and I got married and I 100% agree with everything you wrote. He slept around quite a bit during high school and college and I was a virgin; we hadn’t had sex with each other before marriage, which was difficult for him not having had to wait for sex for anyone.

    I think it helped me too that on our honeymoon he told me that if he had known the freedom that came with married sex, he would never have had sex before marriage. Then, I knew that I was “the best” and I could always go back to that when I struggled with comparing myself to other women.

    It absolutely is a discipline to train yourself to not allow yourself to think about the other women. And to not ask about them. It is really, really hard. Eventually though, you do stop thinking about it as you build your own history with your husband.
    Elizabeth@Warrior Wives recently posted…Uncomfortable WordsMy Profile

    • Thanks for that insight, Elizabeth! I’m glad that you and your hubby have gotten over it!

    • This is really good @Elizabeth. I feel like I always want to know stuff & I feel okay as I’m hearing it (so inquisitive), but then I’m filled with pain. But, my hubs had said over and over… that there’s so much freedom in our relationship that he’s never experienced & that he never knew… in many ways… not just in the bedroom, which is always amazing! I’ve prayed for years that I’d always have a desire for my husband – esp since many of my Christian friends said, ‘call me six months after you’ve been married… and tell me if you still like it…’ Appalled, I began praying for a great desire for whomever he would be & that my desire would always continue to increase. I don’t know why I desire to ‘know’ things, I think remembering that everything from both of our pasts no matter how big/small is gone. It is no longer a part of our identity, so it’s not worth even recalling it or asking them to recall it. God is so amazing!!!!

    • sunny-dee says:

      My situation is quite different. My husband was really promiscuous, and I was a virgin when we married — but he has zero regrets about his past life and has little interest in having sex with me. He has to force himself. And I can’t do #4 — he has no interest in me and he’s not willing to play with sex because it’s not fun to have sex with someone you’re not into. He’s (literally) done it all with other women, too, so he doesn’t look at it as something new or exciting or even interesting. He pretty much just tries to get through it. That really kills the mood.

      It is killing me inside, honestly. I don’t believe in divorce, so I’m here. I’m committed. But I am pretty much expecting that he’ll cheat some day. And I don’t mean this nearly as dramatically as it sounds, but sometimes I fantasize about dying. Or just walking away when he admits to cheating and going somewhere where no one knows me. Just … not hurting anymore.

      • I am so, so sorry. So sorry. It’s just amazing how sexual sins leaves such a trail of destruction in its path. I pray that you’ll be able to talk to your husband about this and really let him see how you feel. And you are so worthy in God’s eyes! You really are. Don’t let your husband’s rejection define you.

  3. Thank you Shelia for writing about this topic. Being a widow and having married a widower this has come up in our marriage and it is a tough thing to get past when you have TMI. I am finding, slowly but surely, that grace covers this as well and that when I do take every thought captive and rebuke it immediately and then pray for my husband in that moment, thank God for the great gift he has given me in him, that ick feeling seems to diminish very quickly. It’s not easy, but I am seeing that those thoughts are not nearly as crippling as they used to be. I also really like your idea of a ceremony, acknowledging that we are new creations with each other. We may have to do that one! thanks!!

    • If you do the ceremony, let me know how it turns out! :) And I’m glad that God brought you together with someone else after your loss. That really is a blessing, even if it comes with baggage, as I’m sure you well know!

  4. I hadn’t thought about insecurity of his past affecting our marriage so much, but it really does. I guess we don’t have to prove ourselves better, we just need to enjoy and delight in them as they are.
    Sis recently posted…How To Handle Strong MenMy Profile

  5. Anonymous Too says:

    Very excellent post, Sheila! Though my husband had no active sexual past as your scenarios, he did look at porn in high school long before I’d ever met him. I found myself wondering all these same things and worrying over comparing myself to those kinds of things for years. My husband’s candor in the bedroom with me (“you were amazing”), and your book really helped me get past that. I think we women often have trouble truly believing the good things our husbands say and not enjoying and living and developing what we have now. I know I do. I have to remind myself that the past is past and stop fretting. Thanks again for the reminder. :)

    • I had the same struggles getting past my husband’s prior porn use, but the way he treats me, the way he looks at me, and the way he loves me leaves absolutely no doubt in my mind that he adores my body, loves our intimate life, and never compares me to the women in the pictures and videos from so long ago. He so honestly believes that I’m the most beautiful woman in the world – actually, the first time he saw me, he told his friends that he was going to marry me because I was that beautiful to him – and he still believes that I look exactly the same as I did when we were 18. The changes in my body (cellulite, etc) don’t faze him at all – he actually thinks it’s cute, because I’m HIS WIFE and he loves me with every fiber of his being. I feel so safe with him. I always felt insecure, and struggled with the porn issue for a long time, but in the face of his love for me it eventually became so easy to let it go, and it seemed so silly to hang on to it. He puts protections in place to avoid anything that he “doesn’t need to see” (as he puts it), so it’s not a current issue either. I love that man. :)

  6. Thanks for this post. No one ever talks about this very openly – even amongst friends. This is an issue for us – but kind of in a reverse twist. We were in our late 30s when we married and my husband had been sexually active, but I had not been. I was at peace that God would honor our new start together in that area. But my husband is the one who has struggled with guilt, shame, and comparisons from his past which has made our sex life stressful and not very fun. I am waiting and praying for God to heal this area of our marriage. I appreciate this discussion and keep up the hope.

  7. Thanks for this posting! My husband was a very sexual being before becoming a Christian, meeting and marrying me. He told me so. We were active before we got married, but we did refrain for the week before we married because he called it off. Now that we have been married over 16 years, we need a refresher course, so to speak. When I get the chance, I am getting your book!

  8. CoffeCrazed says:

    “It’s natural to wonder if you live up to his past, but chances are your worrying is making it into a bigger problem than it needs to be.” Good word.

    One thing I’d like to say and have seen it a lot on posts at themarriagebed.com, is that it is not only non-virgins that can bring baggage. Virgins, and especially those who have been immersed in purity programs, can bring their own baggage as well. There is a very long forum thread there originally posted by a young woman who was struggling with how to “remain pure” while her future husband was going to want lots of sex. She felt she might have to give in, if he fell, but really, shouldn’t he exercise self-control???? Here he is, a previously sexually active man, now committed to his relationship (and God, as I recall) with this young woman and has NOT crossed any lines with her.

    Who has the baggage in this circumstance?

    “For the first couple of years, I had problems having sex with my husband because I felt so guilty about the premarital sex. I still occasionally feel guilty. I definitely still feel angry (and sad) that he didn’t respect me enough to wait for sex until we were married. (I realize I could have said no.)”

    I lived under this specter for 20+ years in my marriage. Numerous efforts at confession and forgiveness, counseling, conferences, retreats. Nothing seemed to break through and I was the one left holding the bag of blame, even though she initiated regularly. It cast a pall over our marriage, particularly in the last 10 years.

    Ultimately, we all need to be gracious with our spouses and not hold each other to greater standards than God does.

    • Anonymous please says:

      You said, “Ultimately, we all need to be gracious with our spouses and not hold each other to greater standards than God does.” I like that statement. Because I know that God has forgiven us and we have forgiven each other, I can choose to honor God and my husband by refusing to entertain those guilty/angry/sad/disgusted feelings when they come. I can extend grace and kindness to my husband (and to myself). Thanks for your words.

  9. Though maybe not the most politically correct or loving thing to say, one simple statement by my partner really helped me get over my hangups with comparing myself to his past…

    The most comforting my partner has ever said related to his (very) active past was that with every new sexual partner he forgot about the rest. Meaning that it happened with me, too :)

  10. I struggled with this through our first year of marriage and sometimes I still have to fight it now. My husband was with a girl (and engaged to her) for 5 years before he met me. It has been a huge challenge to deal with the fact that he was even with her, let alone that they had sex together. I completely agree with taking your thoughts captive. I would let my thoughts and imagination run away with me. I found emails between the two of them on his laptop (from when they were together) and I read ALL of them and it killed me. It just fueled the fire. I had a really hard time coming to terms with my husband’s past and forgiving him. It was difficult because my husband had already dealt with his past, he had already sought forgiveness from God, so he didn’t want/need to talk about it. I did, however. I needed time to mourn in a way what should have been mine alone, to deal with the hurt, and learn to forgive him. It took time. I eventually had to just decide to let it go. He didn’t marry her, he married me. He loves me. He made a covenant with me. I shouldn’t hold his past over him and let it ruin our marriage.

    So now anytime this girl of his past comes to mind I have to take my thoughts captive and remind myself that I have forgiven him, that he loves me, and that I love him too much to let the past get in our way. It’s just not worth it.

    • I am still struggling with the same thing. Its eating me.However much I try to let go, I just cant. My husband only have sex with me once a month, and he told me he had never had a low sex drive before. This fueled me that he’s not attracted to me probably. I asked him if he’s attracted to me, and says yes.

      • I would say that might just be the marriage part. Just being comfortable being married, and all the ups and downs that goes along with it. I would take him at his word though. I’ve had the same problem with my husband, but things ebb and flow, so don’t blame yourself! And relish that he is attracted to you!

  11. I LOVE how you reminded people that we are new creatures in Christ. I think we all need to be reminded of that wonderful truth over and over! Then we need to start living that way since we can do all things through Christ who strenghthens us.
    Lori recently posted…Men’s Wandering EyesMy Profile

  12. Sheila – Great (as always) thanks.

    I’ve done some study on the difference between casual sex and sex in a deeply commited long term relationship (in other words, marriage) and they are very different. Men act different, are far more selfish, don’t really care about her desires and needs. Women are far less likely to enjoy casual sex. What that means is his past sex is hollow compared to what he has with his wife.
    Paul H. Byerly recently posted…Control issuesMy Profile

  13. So been there but on the opposite end. I was like Rahab. However, my man was married before, yet he remained a virgin until they married. After she divorced him, when we were dating and engaged, we remained pure, but the comparisons of my past haunted me for a long time. I had to dwell on the Word of God to get over my issues.
    Jolene @ The Alabaster Jar recently posted…9 Things About My Sex Life that I’d Share with a Young WifeMy Profile

  14. My husband and I were both virgins when we got married– not because we had such moral fortitude. Frankly, it was because we were both very young and scared to death of what my parents would do! That said, I find myself at a loss when it comes to this subject because anything I say seems, well, silly. (I’ve been married for over two decades.) Thank you for your post and your insights. Very helpful. I know this is a very difficult subject and needs to be handled with sensitivity and wisdom.
    Christi Marcotte recently posted…What Do I Do With A Twitter Follower Like THAT?My Profile

  15. Thank you so much for this. I am in the aftermath of my husband’s confession that he was not the virgin I thought he was when we got married. He also had a 25-year history with porn that developed into more, and I was unaware of it all. I am so relieved to see practical Christian counsel that helps me address all my questions and feelings with truth. Thanks for writing on these topics!

  16. I appreciate this post. The situation I’m dealing with is really hard- abuse. My soon to be hubby actually performed some acts of sexual abuse (not sex, mind you) on a family member. I know that sounds terrifying, and trust me, I was terrified when I found out and almost broke off our engagement. But God has shown me time and time again that he is changing my guy, and that’s he’s not the boy who hurt that girl anymore. I know that it takes the power of God to confess something like this and actually seek out the help that he needs to face his past, and he’s doing that.
    But still, my trust in him is so far from where it was prior to the news. I’m starving for advice, some book or something. It’s such a hard thing to deal with, and I feel like I’m the only one who’s ever been through this and I have to figure out how to deal with it and it’s really hard.

    • Emily, that’s really, really a tough one. I would tread very, very carefully since you haven’t actually married him yet. That’s wonderful that he’s getting help, and that he’s repentant, but something like that is a really big deal, and you could be opening yourself up to a world of hurt if he doesn’t really change.

      Now, it could be that he has changed. But I would give it some serious time, and I would surround yourself with some very wise mentors who can guide you through this: people who know the background and can help talk to both of you. I just wouldn’t rush into anything.

      It is absolutely possible for someone to change; but sexual abuse also has its roots in so many deep seated problems that you are probably signing on for a lot of issues in your marriage, even if he doesn’t reoffend. And if he does, that’s a whole other story. So I would make absolutely sure that you can trust him again, and I would find some Christian mentors whose opinions you trust and value to help guide you through this!

      I’ve said a prayer for wisdom for you,
      Sheila.

  17. Would you say that in having sex before we marry we are sinning against our future spouse?
    My husband and I are stuck on this issue. I say that in having sex with various women before we met he gave away what was meant for me, that in a sense his body was mine even before we married. He says he sinned against God only and deprived me of nothing because his body became mine once we married.

    • Maria, I’d say technically you are correct: he didn’t give you what you deserved. HOWEVER, that’s really a bit of a moot point, because the truth is that he can’t change it now. All you can really do is move forward. I think if you keep arguing the point then you’re just going to drive a wedge between the two of you. It is too bad that he didn’t wait, but he can’t change that now. All you can do is to agree that you both want real intimacy now, and work at achieving that, rather than punishing him for what he did before. I hope that makes sense!

      • Thank you so much for the quick answer!
        I agree there is nothing that can be done now, and I’m not looking for that. I don’t even need him to apologize, but I do wish he could aknowledge that I did lose something real. In our ongoing discussion he’s been asking me to biblically prove my point. Any suggestions?
        We’ll be talking to a pastor soon, hopefully we can fine an agreement and move on.

        • I think what’s happening is that you’re going round and round on something which isn’t the main issue.

          Here’s what you need: You need him to acknowledge that you are hurt.

          Here’s what he needs: He needs to know that he is off of the hook with you, and that you can move forward and have an awesome, intimate life anyway.

          I think you’re arguing about a theological issue when the real issue is how you feel about it. Can you say something like that to him? Just tell him something like, “here’s what I think we both need. Do you think that’s true?” And then try to work towards acknowledging each others’ feelings and reassuring each other, without necessarily agreeing with each other. Do you know what I mean? He doesn’t need to agree with you biblically, but he does need to acknowledge that you’re hurt. Similarly, you don’t need to agree that he did nothing wrong to you, but you do need to reassure him that from here on out you can build intimacy and remain close.

          I think if you focus on the needs/feelings rather than the doctrinal argument you may get further ahead.

          I hope that helps!

          • Ok. But you see he does aknowledge that I’m hurt, only he says I have no reason to be hurting because I wasn’t wronged. So his aknowledging my pain doesn’t help very much because in essence (not in these terms of course!) he’s telling me to suck it up and this doesn’t help closeness at all. And I do want to know what the Bible has to say about this issue (if it does), for my own peace of mind not to win a debate. If what I am feeling has no biblical basis then I want to conform myself to what God’s word says i should be thinking and feeling, and feed my heart with Truth instead of lies.
            Sorry I’m insisting so much, but I don’t really have someone to turn to for sound advice and work this through in person, so thank you for your patience :)

          • I still think the process of trying to figure out whether you have a right to feel a certain way is very counterproductive and dangerous, and isn’t a helpful one to engage in in marriage. There are times when feelings are illegitimate; feeling wounded that your husband had sex before he was with you is not one of them.

            This may be a good issue to sit down and talk to a third party about. It is likely an issue you will keep having in your marriage–conflict about whether you have a right to feel a certain way. If you could talk through that issue and look at a more constructive way to deal with it I think that would be important–even more important that the original question of whether or not you were sinned against.

            And yes, you were. If sex is only in marriage, and he had sex outside of marriage, then he sinned against his wife, in the same way that the Prodigal Son tells the father “I have sinned against heaven and against you.” But that’s not the real issue; the bigger issue is how you resolve conflict and deal with your feelings, and I’d really recommend talking through THAT issue rather than the one about whether or not he sinned against you, if that makes sense.

  18. Before we married, my husband had several partners in the past and was sexually active with them, and I was virgin & having him only till our wedding night. We knew this from the pre-counseling marriage with our pastor, but did not get onto the details.
    Days before the wedding, I found lots of past love letters, dirty mails, kinky stuffs that related to their past activities and that hurted me so much (even some I still found after the wedding, but he allowed me to erase or throw away whatever I find). I was even thinking about cancelling the marriage, as I can’t beared this stuff. At that time my thought was: I have been waiting for so long for a man that deserved me, and I don’t give away my virginity randomly because my future husband should worth it.
    That evening we were crying together the whole night, he kneeled on and asking for my forgiveness.
    He swore that he never love them and they’re meaningless for him, regretting it as wishing us to meet much earlier, and telling me I’m the only one he ever love and the one he wants to stay with till the end of his life.
    After being hurt so bad, I’m not easily believe him but with his powerless condition, I decided to continue the marriage anyway. I cried out on our wedding day….

    After we married, I can see (even up to now) he is trying his best to cherish me and sacrify everything to make me happy.
    Even after I got pregnant, he really spoiled me and treated me like his queen. Many friends even envy me on how my husband treated me.
    With the sex life, sometimes I feel he’s not really interested in me anymore as he already waste his power and lust to those oldies women. He clarified that wasn’t true and telling me that he wanted to be gentle to me, dont want to use me as his sex-tools, and would welcoming me whenever I want to have something with him. And that he wanted to make things started up new again with us after my paradigma about him.

    Sometimes I still really seriously struggled with this issue (my husband knows it without I tell him). But I pray to Lord everyday that I can really trust & love him back, and love him truly, like Christ did to me and all of us the sinners.
    He might be the best husband I can ever imagined, that God has given to me. I just want to look on the future together with Christ as my main life objective above all, and him as the partner beside me.
    I believe He is near to us whom heart are broken, and in Him – we are the new creation.

  19. I am so heartbroken. I had a horrible 1st marriage, but stuck it out and prayed and prayed for strength to get through it. I finally realized through the help of my Pastor that my ex was not well, and no matter what I did, things would not get better. I went through the divorce, and unbelievably found a wonderful man. We have been married for about a year and a 1/2 now. About 3 months ago, I discovered something awful about him. For the two years before he met me, he engaged in Cyber Sex with a lot of women/young women. He also cruised nasty porno sites on the internet. I confronted him about it. He answered all my questions honestly, and burned the laptop he used for this. We have no computer in the house anymore, and I do feel better about it. However, I feel very confused and unable to open up to him sexually anymore. I don’t know what to do.

  20. anonmouse says:

    Oh, I struggle with this daily! I’m living with my fiance, to be married in a couple weeks. We’ve been sexually active. But I’ve asked too many questions got TMI and now im really freaking out. I’m not a virgin, but this will be my first marriage. He was married before, and during that marriage had multiple affairs which I have confirmation of. Then after his divorce he was even more sexually active and I’ve run into things like pictures of previous explicit rendezvous on his cell phone, sexting, and videos. I can’t get them out of my head! Yes they were before me, but I can’t shake the doubts and have trust issues. With the fact that he cheated on his first wife, and I’ve been cheated on in my past, how to I break this mindset. I can’t sleep at night I’m so full of worry. Please pray for me!

    • Sheila says:

      Oh, sweetie, I don’t know you, but your story raises major red flags for me. You’re living with a man who has already had multiple affairs on his previous wife. Unless there has been a major change in his life–a spiritual awakening, for instance–it is VERY unlikely that he is just going to become a totally different husband for you. Perhaps the reason you’re having trouble trusting is because God is trying to give you a nudge that he’s not trustworthy. Be very, very careful before marrying someone who has a history of cheating.

  21. Hi. My situation is kind of weird. My husband had a revenge affair on me which involved intercourse with another woman. Needless to say I am still devastated but what is bothering me more and more is this. When I cheated about a decade ago, the farthest I went was to be fondled inside (fingered). He says he went all the way with her because he didn’t believe I didn’t have sex with this guy (my husband and I were having sex with each other at the time). Long horrible story short, it is haunting me that he has had intercourse with one other woman besides me and shared the ultimate with her when he is the only one I have had intercourse with. I actually am trying to reconcile with him, but I can’t seem to get past this. What do I do?

  22. AngelBlue says:

    Dear Sheila,

    This post has really touched me. I am dealing with this and a little more. I am newly wed to a man I love very much. My husband has a child with his ex and is paying child support. She is a horrible person, and I am not being biased. I have been trying to look for the good in her, but she has made it very difficult. She has been very selfish and all she wants is child support. She even wants to deny him his rights as a father (she even almost got away not putting his name in the birth certificate), but still wants child support. Now, I knew about his past and he has asked me for forgiveness about this, admitted that it was a mistake and he stumbled, that I wasn’t in his life then. I thought I could handle it, but I just can’t shake it off.

    We see her on a regular basis and she always dresses like a “slut” (pardon my language), always flaunting her huge breasts and all. Her past is checkered with men (around 12 men before my husband, one of whom was his friend!), and I hate that it was my husband that got her pregnant. When I see or think about her, I get troubled by thoughts of how my husband had sex with her. To make matters worse, I find that whenever I see his son, it brings back horrible images of my husband and her having sex and how he made her pregnant! I don’t know what to do, because we have been having trouble conceiving, and I am just consumed by jealousy.

    I’ve openly discussed with him about how it hurts me to think of the way he made love to her and now he’s doing the same with me! It pains me to know but the truth is the truth I can’t change the past. Am I being stupid or selfish? I want nothing to do with her or keep thinking that my husband once slept with her, had sex with her, made a baby with her…nothing at all.

    I don’t know what to do… I fight with my husband about this a lot, and he has been trying to make it up to me. But how? I hope and pray that I take the advice in your article. God help me.

  23. What scares me is that my partner may have enjoyed sex more with someone from their past? That they got more pleasure than I could give them. That I would never make them feel as good sexually as that other person, and I am not sure I can live with that. I have to be the best and know that I am the best, but I feel that they would never truly be honest with me for fear that they would hurt me. That scares me as well, that I may never know. I just don’t know what to do about this, and I don’t see any way of solving this. How can I know that I am their best and not always wonder and worry about this, I cannot be second rate, I have to be their best? I sincerely hope you can help

    • Emily, I feel your pain… I am going through the same thing. I feel like I’m taking seconds of everything… I don’t think I can live with it either. :(

      • I just wish I knew it was better with me. My friends just think I’m crazy and that I place too much emphasis on it but they haven’t had to deal with this, they don’t understand how this can affect intimacy. They just keep telling me about they would rather have their husbands even if they weren’t “pure” (the word makes me cringe) because they love them and that should be enough. And they tell me about how I’m being selfish but they don’t get it, they don’t understand because they were both virgins when they got married, they just think its a non issue. I get that love makes the difference but it still hurts me. It’s not right that my partner’s past hurt me, and they got to enjoy sex with someone else. I feel like I’m the only one that lost here.

        My friends try to tell that even if they don’t enjoy it as much with me, they still choose to be with me because my spouse loves me. The problem is, I don’t think that’s enough. I have to be better. I have to be the best, I can’t live with my spouse enjoying sex more with someone else, with feeling inferior to another person in this regard.

        And I feel like God loves my friends more than me because He took care of them, made it where they would not have to deal with this. I just want to go, “why didn’t You take care of me like you did them?” I am so frustrated. And everyone just acts like its no big deal.

        I just want to know that it’s better with me, I at least feel like I can live with that. I understand that it’s not a number thing; it’s not about me not being his first. They didn’t give their ex anything they haven’t given me. Their ex doesn’t possess their virginity. Virginity is a state of the peron not an item that someone holds. Their ex does not possess anything that I don’t they’ve are not holding it over me. It’s just that what should have only been mine was given to someone else as well. It just makes me feel like I’m not as special to them as they are to me.

        How can I know my spouse enjoys it more with me than one of the exs? That its more passionate with me? What do I do?

        • I’ve been struggling with similar things myself (my wife had sex with a boyfriend in high school, in addition to fooling around with 2 other boyfriends). My biggest thing is wanting/obsessing with knowing everything that she shared with them. I know enough already to make constant comparisons – she’s said that she never thinks about them, but on occasion has said things to tell me that she finds it very easy to recall at least some details if she ever feels like it. She’s told me that she doesn’t want to talk about it in detail because she doesn’t want to think about it herself, now that she’s successfully repented of it and changed her life (which she certainly has – 5 years no dating/chastity before we got together – but we’re 17 years married now and I’m still struggling).

          I’m pretty sure that at least part of my wanting to know is to ‘make sure’ that she’s actually sorry for it all. Since our dating days she’s been cautious with me, physically and emotionally at least. I want to know that she’s not avoiding certain things with me (emotional sharing as well as sexually) simply out of wanting to avoid memories of those guys. I’ve got issues that I obsess over – she told me that maybe she should have married a non-virgin/I should have married a virgin – even before she told me that she regretted sleeping with him (it bugs me that she basically told me that she regretted getting married to me before she thought to say she regretted what she did back then). Once in the past year she asked me if I thought we should separate to help work things out (not intended as a divorce precursor) – then later told me that she regretted saying that to me.

          I obsess with how easily/quickly she shared her body with that boyfriend, while I can’t have a completely open conversation with her about those same experiences after 19 years together and 17 years of marriage – there’s still often tension and hurt when we talk about it. Then I feel guilty (probably justifiably) because I’m not loving like 1 Corinthians – but I don’t know how to change my emotions from what they are – I tried repressing them for many years – which made my issues come out other ways – it’s only from directly facing them that I feel like progress has been made. I want to know how she broke up with him – did she say something like, “you’ll always be my first”? Does she still somehow consider it ‘special’ what she shared with him? How did she talk about it with her friends at the time? How did she talk about it with him?

          I understand your issues, but I also understand that on some level we have to be able/willing to let go of those past relationships. One thing that drives me crazy is how she says that she’s over her past, and that I should be as well – it doesn’t acknowledge the pain she brought into ‘us’. Then I also think maybe I’m being oversensitive. I’ve long thought that maybe I should just go track him/them down and confront him/maybe fight him, and try to be done with it. I’ve basically been yearning to confront things directly these past years, and this would be in accord with that.

          Have you tried counselling Emily? I’ve tried low-level a bit (with our parish priests at a few different parishes over the years – but nothing that has resolved anything for me) – I may look for a good counsellor sometime – I just don’t like/see the point of talking to someone else when what I want to do is talk openly with my wife. I don’t want to resent being able to talk with someone else and not her.

          • Shane,
            Sounds to me like you’re obsessing over something that’s really out of your hands.
            You being a virgin @ marriage with her is good and should be encouraged.
            However, all this going over her past in your mind won’t help your marriage.

            She was chaste for 5 years after losing her Christian innocence. Doesn’t that tell you anything about how she regretted it?
            She’s a Christian AND a sinner, just like you are. Christians sin and make mistakes and regret those.

            You say:
            “….I’m pretty sure that at least part of my wanting to know is to ‘make sure’ that she’s actually sorry for it all. …. she told me that maybe she should have married a non-virgin/I should have married a virgin – even before she told me that she regretted sleeping with him (it bugs me that she basically told me that she regretted getting married to me before she thought to say she regretted what she did back then)….”

            Shane, are YOU the one to forgive? She told you she was sorry. Isn’t that good enough for you?
            Once in the past year she asked me if I thought we should separate to help work things out (not intended as a divorce precursor) – then later told me that she regretted saying that to me.

            “….I obsess with how easily/quickly she shared her body with that boyfriend, while I can’t have a completely open conversation with her about those same experiences after 19 years together and 17 years of marriage – there’s still often tension and hurt …I tried repressing them for many years – which made my issues come out other ways …. I want to know how she broke up with him – did she say something like, “you’ll always be my first”? Does she still somehow consider it ‘special’ what she shared with him? How did she talk about it with her friends at the time? How did she talk about it with him?…”

            Are you replaying movies in your head of what it was like for her when she surrendered her virginity to him?
            That will only torture you.

            You need to think of it from her perspective. Perhaps the guy pressured or sweet-talked her, or threatened to leave her if she didn’t give-in, which often happens.
            Love/ lust are hard things to avoid.
            Clearly, she realizes it was a mistake. She didn’t go out and sleep with every guy she dated in the 5 years after losing her innocence before meeting you. And she didn’t pressure you to make love with her either.

            I always advise couples to discuss their sexual pasts, but not early in the relationship. Wait until you’re emotionally close.
            The other does need to know what he/she’s “buying.” But such discussions should only be in generalities, not specifics, as such information could easily hurt the other who was hoping for something else.

            I wasn’t a virgin @ marriage in my 30s but that didn’t mean I had had a lot of sex. Far from it. Only 2X throughout all of my 20s outside of some highly regrettable sex in high school before I became of faith next year in college.

            Was stunned when a 30 y.o. virgin I dated from a church singles group I was involved in @26 nearly came to tears when I simply told her I wasn’t a virgin like her.
            Now, didn’t say how many/how often, but it really hurt to see her unforgiveness & judgement.
            If I was quick thinking, would’ve told her “Look, I really wish I was a virgin & had waited if I had known I would meet a nice girl like you. I really haven’t had a lot of sex and to be honest, am quite naive about it. I am a Christian and know what sin is. Please don’t be mad at me about it. I wasn’t having sex to deliberately hurt you….”

            As it turns out, my wife wasn’t a virgin either but like me, didn’t have a lot of experience, so it worked well for us.

            You really needed to go over some of this with her before you married.
            She chose you, Shane, not any of her other boyfriends.

  24. I’m am married to my husband for to years and the jealousy to his past is not releasing me. Before marrying to him i knew that he had other partners (almost all men do) but he didn’t offer to many details so i thought that is wasn’t something major. I felt in love with him so bad that i almost idealized him. I am a person of strong moral principles and i married virgin. After our marriage he started to open the topic about his past and sexual and slowly the details were coming up. They were terrifying me. Those details were coming in middle of conversations about his single or married friends and their sinful sexual life and he is talking in a way that makes you feel that he just knows all that himself in practice.He slept with many women and bitches i think as he traveled in many “exotic places” with striptease and private parties. Now he ensures me that he changed and he is a completely different person and he loves and wants me only. I cant forgive him. Anytime the topic comes about men who cheat and sleep with indecent women or men with hot sexual past, i get jealous on his past. Can’t help myself it’s torturing me. I want release the past and enjoy my happy present but i just cant forgive his sins as sometimes they make me feel disgusted by him and give me mixed feelings of love and hate.
    I am thinking to visit a psychologist to give me advises on how to deal with ghosts from the past.
    Can anyone please give me any advise or mental exercise or anything that can make me stop thinking on this over and over again

  25. Thank you, this really helped !

  26. Thank you so much for this article! I’m going to get married in a month and I really didn’t have any problems or thoughts, but recently doubts and fears started creeping in. I knew I needed relief and I didn’t want to pour salt in the wound of my amazing fiancée. This article helped me out a lot! Especially the part about the difference between having sex without the Lord’s sanctification and making love as husband and wife.

  27. Thanks for this post. I am working on a situation like this in my life now. The part I have trouble with is that people say their husband had several partners, well, mine had around 100, 50 of which he actually remembers a name. He is now a Christian and we have been married 2 years. I love him, but sometimes think I can’t keep going. The pressure of this is really affecting me. I thought I could live with it, but there are days I just want to quit trying. He never wants to talk about it. He says it is in the past and we should never let it hurt our relationship now. The past is the past…but I can’t get the images out of my mind…

    • Hi Sue,

      I know that’s really difficult, and yours is probably a situation that most of us would find overwhelming. But I’d just say one thing: you married him knowing this about him. Yes, what he did was horrible, but you still married him. And so now the ball’s in your court. He can’t change it; all you can do is to decide to move on. And if you don’t, in a way you’re being unfair. I know that’s really tough, but that’s just the way it is. He can’t make it up to you, and it’s really no wonder he doesn’t want to talk about it. But the time to decide that you can’t live with it was BEFORE you got married, not after. Now you’ve made that commitment, and so you have to do whatever you can to see him through the same eyes that God sees: totally redeemed and totally clean. That IS possible. I know it seems far-fetched, but God so wants to do that in your life. Will you let Him?

  28. I realize that this is an old post, but I just read it for the first time. I have a similar situation. My husband had sex with two of his girlfriends before we were married and he is the only person I have ever had sex with. I know he would undo it if he could, but my issue is just that the Bible says that even if a man joins his body with a prostitute, they become one flesh. This worries me because to me it sounds like he and I aren’t actually “one flesh” since he had sex with other people before me, and does that mean that I am sinning by being married to/having sex with some one who might be one flesh with another person? Or is the bond of marriage stronger than that?

  29. ChildofGod says:

    I’m in a relationship with a man who has had multiple sexual partners. I have never had sex before and plan to remain a virgin until our marriage.

    I have never met a man so in love with God. He inspires my walk with The Lord and pampers me with love and care. I feel so blessed that he is in my life. Before dating my boyfriend, I was positive that dating someone with a sexual past was plainly out of the question. The were “unlovable” and “unworthy” of my love.

    I was so wrong in thinking that way. I truly believe that God blessed me with my relationship because he changed my sinful view of what I thought love looked like. God has taught me that although someone may have sinned sexually, they are forgiven, made new in Christ, and are redeemed because of what Jesus completed on the cross.

    That being said, finding out about my boyfriends sexual history was not easy. I deal with insecurities and unpleasant thoughts regurlarly, which is something I am working through. I know God is mending my broken heart daily. Yes, I wish I was marrying a virgin. But without meeting my boyfriend, I would have continued thinking that people like him are impossible of loving.

    It’s difficult because in the Christian community, premarital sex is the unforgivable sin. Almost every sermon includes the “disastourous” outcome of premarital sex. This in itself makes the forgiving process difficult for not only myself, but also my boyfriend.

    I could continue writing forever, but the bottom line is that premarital sex is a problem that many young men are burdened with. That isn’t an excuse for their behavior, but it’s a reality in our culture. I’ve met a man who understand that he messed up, but I feel the spirit of The Lord growing in him. He is a gift. I’m just as guilty of thinking my boyfriend was unlovable for him actually having sexual relations.

    It’s a hard process, and I need all the prayer I can get. But I know God loves me, and is holding me. He protects his children, and I have to have confidence that his redemption will restore my relationship completely, making our marriage strong in all aspects.

    However, I do have one question, and it might have an easy answer- I just don’t know! in the bible it says that having sex with another person transforms 2 people into 1 flesh. Before marrying, I want to know what this means/how to understand. Anyone that knows please help!

    • I believe the two become one flesh under the covenant of marriage, and the sex seals the deal, but it obviously doesn’t keep the deal- the two people and God do. Though Paul talks about not hooking up with prostitutes, because it is a sin inside the body, the person is not bound to them. From someone who is the female version of your boyfriend, first I would say, it isn’t anything that anyone wishes to do before marriage. We all start out wanting to only have it with that one person forever. Once you engage in the sin it isn’t fun because of the guilt, but strangely the sin is easier to do, even though it is a let down because of all the negative things attached to premarital sin. Remember you are the blessed one! When you experience it it will only be with joy- not with all the terrible insecurities, etc. He is too, but because he met you and is waiting for you. Don’t think that if you do get married he would ever think of anyone else. You will be his all in all under God. Trust me it’s not what he thinks about- it’s you!

  30. 40% were virgins when they got married? You must have had an very limited pool of people from which you sampled; like maybe people who got married at age 18 and lived with their very strict parents up until the wedding day No doubt there are some people who wait for that wedding day . . . yet reality is reality, and most don’t. This is especially true when those who might have only had sex with their now spouse, but didn’t wait for the wedding to happen first. The stats are very real, at high school graduation, less than 50% are still virgins. And by the end of the first year of college (or the working world equivalent), only 20% are (a year away from the direct supervision of mom and dad tends to be very risky scenario for one’s virginity. And certainly, by the time four years of college has past, well, we are below 10%. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that everyone is just sleeping around all the time; all I’m saying is that over 90% have at least done it one time. I hung around the Christian crowd in college; they were great people, and most had the best of intentions; but most of them “fell” somewhere along the way.

  31. Thank you for such a good article on this topic from a Christian standpoint. While it covers some important information I didn’t see anything that handles my situation and I could really use some advice from a Believer. My husband told me before we got married that he was not a virgin. We met with a premarital counselor and I worked through a lot of the hurt/fear I had from his past because I knew that he had repented and changed. Our first few years of marriage he was always really good at making me feel secure and telling me he doesn’t compare me to the past but lately it has been obvious that he is not completely happy with things. He finally admitted that he does compare our relationship to past ones and that ours is not as satisfying but that he is choosing our relationship over that satisfaction. I feel like my worst fears have come true. How do we move forward from an acknowledgement like that? I don’t want our marriage to fall apart but I don’t know how to handle or heal from what he said.

  32. I have been married to my husband for almost 13 years now. He was sexually active before me with a few girls. Each one he was in a relationship with. I have always had a hard time knowing he has been with other woman. What they talked about it, what they did the bedroom. It eats me alive till this day. The worst part is, I found one of the girls on FB and now I watch her everyday. I’ve talked with her many times through FB. I know that Im torturing myself and I don’t know how to stop. I don’t want to wake up one day 25 years from now and realize I’ve wasted my life worrying about my husbands ex girlfriend of how many years ago…

  33. I appreciate what you have written but the thing I find difficult is this: my husband (who had several prior partners and was involved with pornography early in our marriage) insists on certain sex acts, positions etc. or “instructs” me in bed…I feel like I am being asked to live up to these previous other experiences….this makes me resentful….I do not know how to respond. Any suggestions?

    • That is a tough one, and it likely is because he doesn’t associate sex with intimacy as much as he does sex with specific acts. If you work through the 31 Days to Great Sex with him I do talk about how to get over some of this in that book, and how to start the conversation. I also have some info in this post about marriage recovery after a porn addiction. The main talk you need to have with him, though, is that sex should be something highly intimate, not just something orgasmic (and indeed heightened intimacy makes the physical more intense anyway). It’s like you’re searching after something but you’re going at it the wrong way. I hope that helps!

      • This is what has happened to me also. When I realized the extent of his history (not revealed to me until after marriage… several years into it, because he was very sorry and embarrassed for it) I forgave him and called him a new Creation just like Jesus did!!! We became SO close! But then when I discovered he had started cheating on me with prn (he had many excuses for it, including “education”), I forgave him then too. I’ve drawn a hard line and seen improvement but it’s still a problem. And to this day he always asks me to do things and “coach” me. I wind up feeling never good enough. he blames me for not being a “certain way.” But how am I supposed to feel sexy when this past is still present in this way? To make matters worse he does not prefer intercourse, he prefers solo or oral. And we rarely rarely have sex (which upsets me a lot, beyond words). when I “get involved” like I want to be, he seems to focus solely on recreating thing’s he’s seen or wanted, and wanting me to become something for him instead of cultivating intimacy. Talk about a turn off!!!!!! I know that my own anxiety is part of the problem… but I find it difficult to “turn off” these bad thoughts in my mind…. even if he is not acting maliciously, or if he is truly loving me I have a hard time perceiving it as love. All I can think about is the other women and the problems and the lack of intimacy. It seems like all the “problem” posts on this blog…. I can relate to. Thank you for writing about them because it’s a hard life to live, and your advice is so so needed. I want to grow out of this phase…. I want to trust again.

  34. Thank you for this article, this really spoke to me. I hope and pray I will find relief from this jealousy soon. My husband was my first everything, my first kiss, first boyfriend, he was even the first man I went on more than one date with. I was 19 when I met him. My husband had dated, kissed, and been sexually intimate with other women. I also found out he had a porn addiction,. It just breaks my heart. I thought I would be over it by now, but it keeps me up late at night still. He has lived in this town his whole life and his partners still live around here. We run into them sometimes and its too much for me to handle. I desperately want to move away. I.am trying to forget about them but when you’re running into them it makes it difficult. I beg my husband to try to find. A job elsewhere so we can move. He doesn’t understand how painful this is for me. I just don’t know if I can ever get over this, but I have to try. :(

    • How old are you now? (How long have you been with your husband is what I’m really trying to get at). I’ve been staying awake at night (off and on) for many years now, trying to think/reason my way through my wife’s fornication (which occurred about 1 year before we met, but several years before we started dating). She knew it was seriously wrong, but decided to be a rebel and do it anyway. She mustered the willpower to decide to leave that life behind and follow Christ while away from her boyfriend during a 6-week summer camp. She weaned herself of the relationship after getting back, but not right away (it took awhile – maybe a few months). She definitely gave up that lifestyle (not dating for several years until starting to date me) before me, but in some ways hasn’t completely opened up to me about it. She’s told me things, sometimes easily, sometimes with difficulty – but I’ve never really ‘felt’ her being vulnerable about it (that’s not completely true, the night she first told me I could tell she was nervous and probably wondering if I’d just break up with her there about it). I felt privileged that she opened up to me, and also understood that there was no obligation to tell me more, so long as I wasn’t her husband. In fact, I felt like she thought the same thing – on the day before our wedding, we had a quiet moment where she gave me 1 rose and apologized for not waiting for me. I’d struggled a lot between when she first told me and then, because I knew that 3 other guys had been physically intimate with her (only 1 had sex with her), and that in a sense, I was ‘on the outside’. I felt like this was a sign (from God?) that I was on the right track and that we’d be able to completely open up about it after getting married, and probably a good cry together or something like that. I waited for 15 years like that, stewing inside, waiting for her to initiate a conversation. It never happened until I started taking the initiative – I started by keeping a journal of what I was feeling. It helped to get it out on paper, and start thinking about it more rationally. My rational side hasn’t really ever had any trouble believing in who she now is – it’s always been my emotional side that gets stuck. I thought for a long time that we’d never feel close. The conversations have been difficult, and she usually doesn’t want to have them – but it’s helped me, and also us I think, to have them nonetheless (not all the time, but from time to time). To be honest, it would help a lot if she took more initiative and showed a strong desire to put this in the past by confronting it directly with me. If I could just decide to leave it in the past, I believe I would have done so during those 15 years. It seems obvious to me that it needs to be confronted directly. She’s acted defensively in the past (both pre and post-marriage), and this tells me that she hasn’t fully addressed all the issues that stem from it. Having said this, it is much better in many ways – she better understands me and what’s going on inside me; we communicate much better, and not just about the past; I have more hope that we’ll work things out, even though I can’t quite see the way forward much of the time.

      I feel like there is a big disconnect between holding virginity as a high standard, and recognizing God’s mercy and forgiveness. It does feel like many want to emphasize mercy and forgiveness so much that the very real hurt and distrust that has entered many marriages is downplayed and the virgin spouse is made to feel like it’s because of him/her that there are problems in the marriage. I agree that mercy and forgiveness are an instrumental part of Christ’s message, but I don’t feel like we can get to that part without first recognizing the depth of injustice that has been put on the virgin spouse’s shoulders. Not that we are without sin – far from it. But sin that unites our spouse to another person, even completely outside marriage (ie, fornication instead of adultery), uniquely attacks the marriage bond. I hope that I don’t want to hold this over her head to punish her – I have many motives inside and I don’t pretend to fully understand any of them. I do believe that (one of) my most important motives is for us to genuinely live in full communion – I feel like it won’t happen until/unless we can face these difficulties fully together.

      The last 2-3 years have brought a lot of growth in our marriage. I/We intend to keep working at it.

      Although painful, I’d like to offer a suggestion to you that perhaps living where you are right now can help you to face the hurt directly. If you were to leave just to get away from them all it might feel like you were beaten by sin. I’m not suggesting that moving away would be a bad thing, just to try to do it with peace of mind.

      • I have to say this, and this is in part because of something I read somewhere else: Why hold on to something your wife chose not to have anything to do with- even before you met her? Wanting to talk about it- that is really wrong. Are you God that you choose to remind her and keep something in her mind that she doesn’t want there? God promised to forget our sins- and even though you are a virgin- I’m sure you’ve sinned in other areas- and I bet she doesn’t want to throw it in your face or make you feel uncomfortable. A woman who has stood by you for 15 years does not deserve to be put through a Perry Mason grilling. Please, let love light your way! And yes, I am a woman who had done far worse than your wife. I hate what I did! My husband also had partners beforehand as well. And even with all that, yes it is hard to think about- which is why we must choose not to. As the author said, we are now a new creation together.

  35. Thank you for the post. They are all very useful- I only wish I had read this when I first started dating my boyfriend (now husband). Before I fell in love with my husband, the first few months of dating, it didnt bother me that much that he had sex with his highschool girlfriend, we agreed to never have sex and I was just so content that I found someone who had the same values now as I did. As soon as I fell in love with him though it hit me like a brick, jealousy set in, and I did exactly what you advised not too– I asked him everything imaginable, under the sun. I did exactly what God did not want me to do, and made him feel awful about it. About a year and a half later I finally forgave him, with God’s help and we moved past it. Unfortunatley, those images still haunt me, and I wonder now even that were married, if they will ever go away. I pray about it but often I feel so weak and I wish that I had not asked him all those things. Sometimes, I reflect back on what he has told me and I am atleast happy that he was not happy and that his past relationship was hardly a relationship. However, it still seems to upset me. Thank you for the post, I will most definitley reflect on #2, and dismiss it if it does not line up with what God says.

  36. I stumbled upon this through another post of yours that I found on Pinterest! This has been something I have been struggling with for quite some time now and I thank God that I found something for me to read and re-read. I was separated from my ex-husband when I met my now husband. Before my first husband and even for a short time before my second husband, I was sleeping around. I was looking all the wrong things and was in no way romantically connected with any of these men. When I met my now husband, he was pretty much doing the same exact thing but for some reason, we were completely different with each other than we were with anyone else. No we weren’t pure until we got married, but we both actually went cherishing our relationship. While dating, I found files on his computer with pictures of previous flings…naked pictures included…and it tore me apart. I confronted him and he said he completely forgot that they were there, apologized and deleted everything but the damage had already been done. I compared myself in every way to these multiple women and these images haunted me over and over again. I learned that he had told several women he loved them when he didn’t mean it. I learned that he was more of a playboy than I ever imagined. I prayed about it over and over again and I knew it wasn’t fair to be angry towards him when my past was jaded as well. I prayed for forgiveness for myself and prayed for my relationship with my now husband. Things got better and I was able to move on and we got engaged and married. My husband treats me like his queen and always has. He’s told me how he’s ashamed of how he treated women before me and hates that I know what I do know because he doesn’t want me to think poorly of him. He has done everything he can to prove to me that he loves me more than anything in the world and I thank God daily for a wonderful and loving husband who shows me more than once a day how lucky he considers himself. Even now however, I have thoughts that creep into my mind and sometimes it’s difficult for me to rebuke them. Since reading this post, it has helped me immensely and I can’t thank you and God enough for this.

  37. Letter to my Husband’s Ex girlfiend

    Firstly let me say, I am sorry for what you went through. I am sorry that you gave something so precious and the most intimate part of yourself to the man who is now my husband. I am sorry that your heart was broken. I’m sorry that your commitment to God to stay pure before him until marriage was broken. I’m sorry that you have had years of anguish and heartache, trying hard to reckon with what happened in the relationship you had with the man who is now my husband. I’m sorry you feel he failed you.

    The man who hurt you, was a broken man. A man far from Christ. Who did not know himself or love himself, and had no ability in himself to give of himself the way you gave yourself to him. He was young, and seeking in the world, what only Christ could fill in his heart. In his seeking, he found you, and continued in his brokenness together with you. You partook in his brokenness and led him on a path further away from his purpose and his calling. What you perceived to be the “love” you were giving him, was in reality a ball and chain that sunk both of you into a pit of heartbreak and despair. You chose to give a part of yourself you had no business giving to anyone. You deceived yourself into believing he was “the one” when all the signs were there that he was not– he was only broken and seeking in world what could only be filled by Christ in his life.

    He has walked along journey since then. One that took him to the heights of the Maine mountaintops, to the depths of the heart of Jesus. He is a new man. Before God and before men. He is restored. He has found in Christ love and completeness, he never knew before. He is whole, he is healed and he is forgiven.

    On our wedding night, he experienced something he never had before. He was completely united with another being, in heart, body and soul. He became one with me, in all ways. What he has with me is far more richer than what he ever had with anyone before, including you.

    I have a beautiful life with him. He is a good husband and a great father. His greatest desire is to love me the best way he knows how and to share with me the depths of his heart. It is with me he has lives in the freedom Christ gave him and freely gives of himself to me and loves me completely. I have come to know and understand that he loves ME, he chose ME and he married ME. Anything in his past pails to the truth of the fact that after all was said and done, he chose me.

    I’m sorry you yearned for that from him, but never found it. It was not in him that you would ever find completeness, but in Christ alone, and I hope you have found that. I hope your life has led you on the path to healing and you have come to know that only the fullness of Christ can fill your hearts brokenness.
    I forgive you for steering him further into brokenness in those days.
    I forgive you for feeling entitled to a part of him you had no right laying claim to.
    I forgive you for being deceived about the source of your love and fullness and for directing affections to him that should have been reserved for Christ.
    I forgive you for compromising his purity and compromising him.

  38. Hi Sheila,

    I am a man, and I have a sexual past outside of marriage, although it isn’t as extensive, perhaps, as that of other guys. I have had one partner. I thought I was going to marry her, and it has been was very difficult to let her go. Regrettably, I was sexually active with her a number of times, and I am finding this very difficult to accept now. It was a lot easier, perhaps, because she is not a Christian. She has a rather unrestricted view of human sexuality.

    The possibility of marrying this girl is all but non-existent. However, I do not think I am able to marry someone else. I know how much pain can be experienced over the sinful past of a spouse, especially for certain types of personalities and for Christians in particular. I don’t want to put such a soul through that pain. Ever.

    For this reason, I am very afraid of opening myself up to anyone else to form a relationship that might lead to marriage. I feel that trying to overcome this fear would be callous and inconsiderate. I feel I should never allow any woman to fall in love with me, and I should kill any relationship that might be going in that direction.

    At the same time, though, I am not sure this is correct. Non-Christians are far more forgiving and understanding in this regard in my experience. Thus, I am, at least in this way, less afraid of non-Christian women than I am of good, sincere Christian women. The latter could be more easily hurt by getting close to me because of my past (which I cannot imagine ever trying to conceal!).

    This is horribly painful for me. I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t want to intentionally block women who have never sinned in this way from getting to know me more deeply. But I fear they would be the most hurt by me, and seeing that would rip my heart apart even more.

    • Paul,

      I’m sorry if I’m not reading what you wrote clearly enough, but I can’t tell if you’re approaching this from a Christian perspective. I assume that you are doing so. It’s also not at all clear how old you are, so I apologize if I’m not addressing you at the right level.

      I’m from the other side of things – where another man (well, teenage boy when she was also a teenager) fornicated with my wife. She was in rebellion at the time, and came out of it during a kind of conversion experience during this relationship. She eventually ended the relationship and didn’t date (for 5 years) until I came along.

      As I’ve written in here previously, I struggle with what my wife shared/gave away to high school boyfriends (only one was intercourse, though the others were not chaste). The repercussions of those choices still haunt (and hurt) me today. I hold here more responsible for those relationships than the guys, primarily because I know she was raised better than that, whereas from what she’s told me, they had very poor role modelling/parenting. Nevertheless, she successfully changed her life, clearly giving up those sins/sinful relationships. If we had attempted dating sooner after her conversions, I would have more reason to question her convictions, but as it is, I don’t think I can really do that. I won’t pretend that there couldn’t have been someone else out there for me, but on the whole, her presence in my life has made my life richer, even apart from the wonderful children we share. I see myself as focussing more on God’s justice when I approach this situation – even though I know/recognize that somewhere His mercy has to take over.

      I’d like to encourage you to walk the immediate road you must, which should include becoming the man who won’t take advantage of any woman, Christian or not. It seems like you’re well on the way to this, but some of it will only be proven over time (both to yourself and to others, including a potential future spouse). You don’t need to come up with an immediate answer as to your eventual vocation right away, although you do need to understand your immediate vocation and to live that faithfully. God wants a full life for each of His children, including you – but you will probably find you have to walk a narrow path to live it. That may yet include a wife who will understand and love you – probably most successfully as a humble sinner. Be patient with yourself, but impatient with any sin that creeps in (in particular sins against chastity – particularly pornography).

      My wife and I dated for about a year (knew each other as acquaintances for several years) before she told me of her past. To be honest, I already knew that I loved her by that time and that it would be a failure if I rejected her because of her past. It still hurt and intruded on the intimacy we were trying to develop. I consider it partially my own failure to know how to love and accept her fully – we’re still working through it. I do think that we should have talked more directly about what it meant before we got engaged – for both of us to have a deeper peace of mind. That’s not where we are now, so anytime we do talk about it, it feels like we’re renegotiating our relationship (which I’m sure we are to an extent). We have many good and rich aspects to our relationship – but I desperately want to get to a place where I/we can fully let this go and only move forward. I feel certain effects of her past relationships (which may or may not be real), and want to address them to embrace her fully. She feels hurt and threatened (I think) when I tell her some of the struggles that I have (in truth, I feel we both are having them, but she’s repressing them – I think she’s more or less admitted this, but she sees the ‘solution’ as both of us repressing any/all thoughts of the past). I’ve heard spiritual advice, including in here, that would more or less agree with her, but I still feel the need to address the past directly. In past ages, I think I would have challenged the guy to a duel (or somesuch) and some measure of honour would have been restored. As a Christian today, I don’t know exactly what we’re called to do. I do know that our secular culture protects sins such as these and makes people like me who feel wronged feel like we’re the ones with the problem. To an extent, modern Christianity, in practice, is indistinguishable from this – telling the wronged spouse to let it go because Christ has forgiven it. I don’t really know the right way to work through it, but am learning to pray about it better than I used to – which is giving me hope.

      Sorry for the ramble – I wish you well and expect I’ll remember to offer some prayers for you.

  39. Samantha says:

    I know this is old, but I am seeking some advice.

    I am 22 and my current boyfriend is 24. We have only been dating for a few months now, but we both take our relationship very seriously. We are both Christians who have our sexual histories…
    Mine: I am not a virgin. I slept with my first boyfriend after a few months of dating. I thought he was going to be the one. Unfortunately, it ended. However before him, I had messed around with another guy. I also, before and after my first boyfriend, engaged in cyber sex (pictures, sexting, phone sex.) I believed that even though it was wrong, it was not as bad as actually having sex with other guys. My current boyfriend and I have also engaged in sex a few times, but we have decided to try and stop all sexual activity because we want to do our relationship differently and actually walk through Christ…
    My boyfriend: I find it funny when people comment that there spouse or boyfriend has had like three partners before them… I would do anything to have that situation. My boyfriend has dated a lot of women. He has been in 13 relationships and has been sexual with all thirteen of them… I am now the 14… I think it is important to know sexual histories… but maybe not as important as we make them seem to be. I wish I didn’t know how many women he has been with… ONLY Because I am so hung up on the number 13… We are both trying to work on ourselves and us as we try and walk our relationship through Christ.
    I often feel hurt or cheated because he has been with so many women and I have not been with many guys. Sometimes I feel like there is not much left that we can experience together that would be new for the both of us.
    He tells me it was kind of rough growing up. His mom wasn’t really around and his father was emotionally and physically abusive… He didn’t have much direction. One of his relationships ended up with her being pregnant and him paying for the abortion because his mother had that much influence to make him pay for it. He still is unsure if it was even his.
    However, he tells me that he is sorry… he says it wrecks his heart knowing that it kills me inside. He thinks it is horrible that I think of myself as just another number instead of his girlfriend who he deeply cares about. He said he was an old school romantic. He was trying to find his true love and these girls didn’t have it. These girls didn’t show him the compassion, support, deep emotional connection like he has with me. He says his actions had consequences and he has had to deal with them and learn from them.

    I love everything about this guy but his sexual past is what I am really struggling with. I am not struggling with the fact that he has had prior sexual relationships before me… I am struggling with the fact that he has had so many (13) before me…

    I don’t want to feel alone in this. I feel like everytime I read the comments it reassures me until I see “Has had a few sexual partners before me.” Is it wrong for me to be with someone who has had such an extensive sexual history? Are there people, christian couples who are happily married to someone in this postion I am in?

    I want this to work out. I don’t want to end things because I can’t change his past that he has no control over. Especially since it was before he met me… I know he would give anything to have met me before he met any of these girls.

    Help!

    • Samantha,
      I do know how you are feeling. My husbands past is definitely more than 13, although I do not know the exact number. I can’t be too angry, however, because my past is jaded as well. For me, it’s not really the high number, it’s the fact that he told many of his flings that he loved them when he didn’t really mean it. One day he was saying “I love you” and not two weeks later he was done with her and on to the next. An old friend of his once told me that he wanted to write a book … Confessions of a womanizer or something along the lines. I was already head over heels in love and engaged when I learned this! He doesn’t even know I know this. I’ve learned to deal with it through prayer…that is the ONLY way I make it through. I get angry because words that I’ve only said to two men in my entire life, he spouted off to dozens of women. I’ve told him that I feel like him saying those words to me is almost a slap in the face because he obviously doesn’t hold those words high like I do. I pray everyday for God to help me get through my issues and to help me forgive him. I was no saint either so I remind myself that I am no one to judge because my husband doesn’t judge me for my past.

  40. Thank you for this post. I thought I was struggling this all alone.
    I’ve been married for 2 years now and I still struggle with this issue, not only because I know my husband had a past but I know the faces and names of the 3 women he had sex with. 1 of the women he had sex with, he is still friends with her (guess they were good friends for a long time and were friends with benefits in college… he said he had sex with her twice and it meant nothing and that this was 10 years ago). They are still friends (and friends on fb). They don’t hang out or talk to each other but I do have the agony of seeing her once a year when we go out to his hometown every summer to visit his parents/friends/family. I told her to defriend her and that I never want to see her again but she is close friends with all of his close friends and it is impossible to un-friend her or exclude her from parties when he goes home once a year. My dilemma is…would it be fair for me to still demand that he unfriend her and not invite her to parties or just let go and toughen it out once a year? I just think it’s unfair for me that I have to go through the agony.. but I also understand where my husband is coming from.
    Also, I rage at him every time this issue comes out..Hate is a strong word but I really hate my husband when I feel this way and this is a terrible thing to say but I wished I was promiscuous before marriage so I don’t have to deal with this issue.

  41. This is a great post, my issue is a little different though. My husband and I were both previously married. We were both cheated on. He has a daughter with his ex. So I see see her 3-4 times a week. Sometimes more. I have come to terms with him having sex with her. It was a real relationship like mine, it just didn’t work. I seldom think of his past relationships other than that one. When I do I feel sick just like most other girls do. But like I said my issue is a little different. My husband is not very religious. He grew up the complete opposite of me. (His mom worked in a bar and he would always hang out there after school etc) I have always had a problem with nudity. I don’t believe that my significant other should see other women naked. However, since my divorce I have gotten so insecure that I don’t even want him to see girls in bras or swimsuits. Then there is the biggest problem of all. Before my husband and I met he had gone to strip clubs. When I asked how many he said he wasn’t sure, quite a few times. He said he only went when his friends invited him. Then this morning I was organizing books and the back page of his yearbook fell off. One of the girls that signed it caught my eye b/c it was a lot a writing. She said she hoped he enjoyed throwing things down her shirt and he should calm down on the sexual comments. Now I’m aware this was 15 years ago, but in my mind it makes me feel like he is like every other guy. A disgusting perv (that’s what I keep saying in my head) I feel like between the strip clubs and the sexual comments that he doesn’t have respect for women. However, anybody that know my husband would never say that. He is so loving, caring, helpful, thoughtful, funny… everything I could ever wish for. So one end of the spectrum is everything I want and the other is everything I don’t want… I don’t know what to do anymore except cry. It’s gotten to the point where he can’t handle it anymore. :( Please help!

    • Oh my friend I know how you feel. My husband was in few words, a “womanizer.” It started in high school for him and went all the way to pretty much me. Sure he had a couple serious girlfriends, but as soon as they were over, he was hopping from woman to woman just trying to rack up his number. He won’t tell me much, I just know after piecing things together from him, his parent, his sisters and friends. The ONLY way I get through is prayer. When I start to think of who he was before me or anything that would make me angry at him, I pray. It gets easier every time. It might take some time, but God can help you through it. My husband is so loving and passionate with me and I have a sense of pride knowing that I was different, something special that he obviously couldn’t find with anyone else. Don’t let something evil take away some of your happiness.

  42. Thank you Tami! I have been praying a lot. I have even been to counseling. I just feel… lost and scared. All I hear from his friends and family are great things. How anyone would be lucky to be married to him and I’m one lucky girl. I so believe that, which is why I want to be able to let this go. I’ve been struggling for years now and nothings helped. So I just can’t help but feel disconnected and alone. It’s to the point where I lie in bed at night for hours. B/c when I try to sleep my mind wonders to negative thoughts.

  43. anonymous says:

    I have an issue as well- that I am felt to made to feel so wrong about.
    I am engaged to a man and we have two children together. I cannot seem to let go of the fact that he had/has a best friend who is female. they were sexual and intimate before but they stopped it and decided to just be friends so as to not ruin their friendship. she knows a lot about him and his past. I am not comfortable with this, j have asked him to cease contact with her out of respect for our relationship and what I feel is the sanctity of what is our relationship and eventually to be our marriage.
    he tells me, ‘I don’t think you’d like it very much if I told you who you can be friends with and who you can’t, especially when those individuals have held a place of importance in ones life many times longer than their partner has even been known to them. ‘
    that to me is really bothering me. I so not think she should hold such a place in his life currently or in our future because I feel that her place will compromise mine. I am not ok with another woman being the person he thinks of so highly in that sense because I feel that intimacy is for him and I alone.
    he tells me that she will forever be his friend.
    am i alone in feeling that it isn’t appropriate? I feel I have a right to be uncomfortable knowing their history. he claims it was innocent and that their relationship is completely platonic. I feel that the sexual stuff they shared (come on, they touched each other’s genitals and were intimate together!) completely cancels out that sense of being platonic.
    please advise, it makes me feel absolutely uncomfortable and insecure. he tells me I’m incapable of trust because of that but to me it isn’t that- it is it all as a whole.
    for what it’s worth, he has stopped telling her everything because I felt so strongly about it but it is ‘an argument’ because he just doesn’t agree with me in regards to her significance being more for the past and those times during their lives. I feel like that is fine to respect that they had it but it needs to remain in the past. I cannot help but not like feeling she still means THAT much to him. it really bothers me. please help.

    thank you

    • Yes, I agree with you. I think that because it has crossed the line, it can never be a pure friendship. Also, since he was so close with her, even if they hadn’t had sex, it might be of a concern. You should marry your best friend- which is why I don’t like that movie (but I digress). My husband and I both had a sordid past. I had relationships because I was so desperate to get married and not feel lonely that I jumped into a lot of stupid mistakes, and I have been married before my husband. So, when we started dating we deleted all our contacts eventually that had anything to do with sex or prospective members of the opposite sex, even if they were just friends- but had been more or were when we were looking for just someone to talk to. So, while we couldn’t undo anything in our past, we can keep it in the past, and the more you keep it there and let it go, the less you think about it. Like, when I would think about his times at a strip club and lap dances, I would get so angry, but he forgave me of things so that helps. Plus I know that sin may be fun for a season the emptiness and guilt that goes along with it are not. Try to express this to him at a good time your thoughts. Maybe a pastor or counselor could offer premarital advice. Our pastor does not see women alone. He does that to keep himself for his wife alone and avoid all temptation.

  44. Wow the comments on this post are still going strong! There’s a lot of despair out there about this! Shane it sounds like you are especially in despair about this since it still has you up at night after 19 years. It is possible that you are experiencing depression that stems from this and I have been there! You have to address that and heal it or you are really in danger. God loves you and your wife so much! Our story is a very long one that could probably help and offer hope and encouragement to many people that have commented here. Our story is one of past sexual sin, the baggage and pain it brought to the marriage, the obsession with it, and how we healed beyond our wildest dreams. The details are long and I could honestly write a book about our journey and have actually thought about it. What I will say here is that my husband and I did something that others may consider quite odd. Especially considering that we had been married about 19 years at that point. We had 4 children as well. But we continued to struggle with pain about each of us being with others 25 years prior. At about year 18, our sexual relationship became very intense and we connected on a level that we had never before experienced in the nearly 20 year marriage. Although we were Christians all our lives and had been involved in many aspects of our church, what was changing our relationship was a new connection to Christ. We were able to have extremely open discussions about sexual desires, our souls, fears, hopes, dreams, and God. When we were together physically we put in worship songs and it became our go-to music for sex. Due to our newfound love for each other, my husband began to grieve DEEPLY with the fact that we had both been with others. There was anger not only that I had given the gift to another, but even more so about his own sexual past. He was really angry with himself, his parents (for not talking to him about purity) and at our culture. He, along with our spiritual counsel, came up with a plan for healing. We agreed to go back to courting. I was not at all happy about this at first since we had just began this intense relationship. This was kind of like Love Dare from the movie Fireproof. Here’s the VERY odd part— during this time we prayed for spiritual restoration of our virginity. During this time we abstained from sex for almost a year. I don’t even think we saw each other naked. We prayed for each other and we prayed that God could do the impossible and somehow restore our minds, spirits, and souls to virginity. We slept in the same bed and sometimes we kissed and caressed each other but we never took it further. As soon as we felt things starting to get too intense, we pulled back and just held each other. It was an amazing experience. It brought us so close during that time. I remember a particular night that we lay across from each other with about a foot between us with the lights on and our toddler between us and we had just listened to “More Precious Than Silver” and then came on the song “Open Our Eyes” by Teri DeSario. We had a deeply spiritual experience. I can only speak for myself on what happened, but it felt like I was looking at God’s Adam and I felt like my soul was suspended slightly above my body like resting on a floating feather on a quiet stream. Jesus was right there 100% almost like Jesus was covering our bodies in a blanket of His love. I started to cry out of joy and without my telling him what I was experiencing or asking him what he felt, my husband said he felt something happening. Our toddler was asleep between us the whole time. This happened at the end of that year of courting, about 3 days before we were set to renew our vows in church. We had been planning the renewal for the end of our year of abstinence, courting, and seeking God. We had a new unity candle custom made with our vows on it and our names a the “new” date. When I walked down the aisle in my dress, the way my husband looked at me, I knew that God had done the impossible. I knew that it was as if we had never even dated or kissed another. It was unbelievable. My husband had so much joy and emotion during this ceremony. We had both prepared for that “wedding night” by reading literature about sex as God meant it to be. There are many great books out there. We especially like Heaven’s Song by Christopher West and Sheet Music. We completely redecorated our bedroom including new furniture and I prepared by picking out the right things to wear for later that night. When we came home to our new bridal suite that night, I can honestly say that our souls had been returned to purity and virginity. My husband had been with 5-6 people in the years before meeting me, and I had been with 1 other, and previously my husband and I had not abstained from premarital sex with each other. But the night of our renewal, we can honestly say it was the first time for both of us. The first time we ever experienced sex as God really intended it. It was deeply spiritual and nothing or no one mattered that night or ever again. We first danced to the song “I could sing of your love forever” about 5 times. We both had a brand new experience that we felt was a gift straight from God. There were tears of joy too. After 20 years of marriage and 4 kids, it was the BEGINNING of our marital covenant. We do somewhat grieve over the lost years in our marriage, but when I think of my wedding night, it is that night I think of and the joy. There is no more pain or even thoughts of past sexual sins with other people or even with each other. We were completely healed. In fact, I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this post. We have now been married 23 years and have since had a 5th baby. Sorry this was long, but I want to encourage those suffering that there is hope in your future. I can say I didn’t even know what marital love was until year 20! Hang in there! If you are already in a covenant marriage, it belongs to God and I promise you that with all his power He will heal it! But you have to stop obsessing and asking questions about the past and just start LOVING! When you start loving like that, your marriage will explode. I do want to be sure to mention that if anyone were to do what we did, I think a whole year might not be necessary and that you both have to be 100% in because we are not to withhold sex from our spouse who desires it. And for those dating or engaged, WAIT! Even if you’ve had a past sexual partner, keep sex with your spouse until after the wedding night. Don’t rob yourself of the joy of your wedding night and honeymoon because it will be very difficult to get that back if ever. When you wait, there will be joy instead of a feeling of what could have been, which is what I felt on my first wedding night 23 years ago. God bless you and your marriage!

    • I love this. Is there anyway you could give me more details? My husband and I are having difficulty with this situation right now. I shared this with him and we are possibly considering doing this to save our marriage. We keep wondering what we can do and I think this sounds like a reasonable way to finally put these things to rest.

  45. I can’t believe I’m going to leave another long comment after I just did, but I’m stuck today and can’t get a thing done because Shane’s situation is weighing so heavily on my heart and I can see that by the dates of his post that he still reads here on occasion. So I apologize to all and to the moderator if another long post is totally inappropriate. Shane — I went back and very carefully read your posts. I see myself in your wife. I didn’t want to talk to my husband about my past because I was so very desperate for him to see me as a sweet, innocent girl. Although his sexual past was painful for me, I was more obsessed that I wasn’t a virgin for him, especially since he had the experience of deflowering an ex-girlfriend. I felt like he experienced that with her and couldn’t with me. I wasted my virginity on a loser and the fact that I couldn’t give that gift to my husband but his ex did made me rage with jealousy. It was so bad– I was so obsessed about her that I kind of became anorexic early in our marriage. I felt like she was the innocent virgin and I was a slut. It affected the kind of sex my husband and I had for DECADES. I was (or ACTED) very passive and sweet (maybe what you called “cautious”). Passion in me was there but I had it bolted down so tightly. I don’t know why or how but one day after 18 years, I texted my husband and asked him a very bold question completely out of my nature and his answer absolutely floored me. And the floodgates opened. He literally left his office, drove straight home where I met him at the door and we just threw our arms around each other. He poured his heart out and so did I. For 18 years we had both been suppressing it all. For a year after that we had an intense emotional and sexual relationship that went on for over a year before we began the year of abstinence. We were able to talk through everything and that’s when we discovered how much pain there really was there and how much healing needed to be done. It wasn’t just past sexual sins, it was also that I learned about how babies are made by accidentally stumbling onto some porn in a bathroom where I was babysitting. It was also horrible comments my dad made about me when he found out I had been physical with my high school boyfriend. The first and really only man to call me a slut was my own father. My husband has very negative feelings towards my father over that because it affected life in the marital bed. My husband turned it all around. The year of abstinence helped me to feel innocent again and without too much detail, the night of our renewal he treated me like no man had ever touched me before. I am now free with him, not cautious and I trust him enough to know that no matter what I say or do in the bedroom, he is never going to think badly because I am HIS girl. I think your wife may be suffering more than you realize and not wanting to talk is…… how can I say this….. for 18 years of our marriage, I lived with a negative self-image of maybe my husband thinks I’m a slut, so I was closed off big time. I was the sweetest girl in bed there ever was and never did or said any of the things I wanted to. We lived like that for 18 years. I thought that’s what he wanted. I was SO wrong. He wanted the passion and the full communion. He wanted me to say everything that came into my head and he sure had a lot to say too! For the first time we were doing something that had never happened in 18 years— looking at each other and smiling at each other during sex. 18 years of NO trust and then one day God just rained down on us! There’s hope for you my friend. I can almost guarantee your wife has those feelings, especially since you remain so upset over it. She’s broken and you can definitely fix it. You’re going to have to re-court without asking about her sexual past. I hear your desire to know everything and that you think it will help you heal. That is a feeling, and sometimes feelings lie. Too much information will kill you. I had way too much info. about my husbands past. Images that stayed with me, even long after he couldn’t even remember what his ex looked like anymore much less what happened, how it happened, etc. Let your wife know that you find her sweet, beautiful, lovely and that you are intrigued by her innocence and it is very likely that passion may erupt. That’s what my husband did.

  46. Kam,

    Thank you for your thoughtful words – it does mean a lot to me that you took the time to relate your experiences in here. Some parts of what you write definitely seem relevant and I’ll give them more thought and prayer. There is definitely a kind of battle going on inside of me – I wish I could say that the end was in sight, but I don’t see a lot of change in my thought patterns from over the past 19 years. A part of me thinks that if I can’t get it together and fully accept and forgive my wife as she is, then what else could she tell me that would change this? The other part thinks that complete openness is the way to go, even beyond the many things that she’s already told me – there’s another web-site that had some advice that struck me – it talked about how, generally speaking, the ‘spouse with a past’ probably wouldn’t have to go into lots of detail, but that s/he should be prepared to go as far as the other spouse wants, just to make sure that both are aware that there aren’t any secrets. Like I say, I don’t see a quick resolution, but will keep hoping and praying for one – and would appreciate your prayers as well – it’s very difficult for my wife and I not to see eye to eye about this. I’ll have to seriously look at how you and your husband worked through things.

  47. I didn’t know so many people felt like this. I thought I was crazy . I think about my husbands past all the time and I don’t know why because I had sex with one person before I met my husband . Maybe it is because he lied about the number of sex partners or who they were. I probably shouldn’t have asked. Isometimes I wonder if this is Gods punishment for me because I did not wait until I was married and I promised him I would. I have been to the point of wanting my life to end because I don’t feel like we share anything special with each other because we both gave all of ourselves to others before.

    • I definitely know the feeling of crazy. My wife and I have had a lot of ups and downs about this – I find it very difficult to predict when either will come, because they both seem to start with me initiating conversations about it. Sometimes she reacts negatively – it’s especially difficult because sometimes I feel like I’ve got a breakthrough for us, but it hasn’t really come yet. A couple weeks ago (after my last post), I felt at peace – it lasted for a little less than a week. She told me a couple new things about her past, and they both took a hit out of me (I can’t really fault her for talking, I’ve told her that I want her to talk and that I’m open to it) – the difficulty is that they’re new and unexpected. For example, after she had her conversion (to Jesus and to chastity) following her last boyfriend, she told me that she’d been very chaste for 5 years (ie, before we started dating). She was trying to tell me about a time after this that she’d said ‘no’ to a guy, and her example was of a guy a year after her last boyfriend who she didn’t have sex with – the problem is what she did do – she met him through friends one night (they were trying to hook her up to fit in better with what they were doing)(also, he was a pastor’s son) – she was working away from home that summer and she let him come in her room later that same evening, with no one else there, and they made out, including letting him feel her breasts (she tells me nothing below the waist, but I have trouble believing her now). She says she slept on the top bunk, but let him sleep on the bottom one (and that nothing further happened with him). She meant it as an example of being chaste, but it showed profoundly-bad judgement, in my opinion, and I just don’t know now who else may pop up from her past – she admitted that she went to confession after that episode (we’re Catholic), so she must have known it was wrong, even at the time.

      • I can only say from experience to let the past STAY in the past. I understand your want to know, trust me, but all you’re going to get is heartache. I don’t have much room to be upset with my husband as I was pretty much in the same boat as he was in, I just never said things that I didn’t mean. I jumped around from guy to guy because I just didn’t want to be alone and when I met my husband, I was thinking that he’d only be around for a short while. I never even expected to find the love of my life, and neither did my husband! He has no desire to know anything about my past relationships and I wish I had the same mind as he does. He knows about the important ones in my life, but there’s not many. He did tell me about the “important” ones but I learned from friends and family about others and then I stumbled upon things I wish that I hadn’t. I understand the hurt that comes because I hate myself for the things I did with other guys and wish that I could have saved all of those experiences for my husband. I hate that he too shared sexual intimacies with many women as well as tell women he loved them when he knows he didn’t mean it. You have to remember that your spouse is not that person anymore. I tell myself that all the time. I also saw a little quote that helped me even more…basically it said how can you expect someone who’s trying to be a better person to want to continue when you remind them of the person they used to be. Why keep having your wife re-live those moments in her life when she should be forgetting them. You probably remember things about her past clearer than she does. The best thing is to leave it be. Your wife chose you, you were her choice over anything and everyone else.

      • Shane, I just saw your post. I’ve been checking back occasionally. I will definitely pray for both of you. We are Catholic as well. I disagree that complete openness is the way to go. She opened up to you a bit, and you stated that you felt that she exercised “profoundly bad judgment.” I’m sorry Shane, but you are being so hard on her for events from 2 decades ago. That is not loving your wife as Christ loves the Church. I want to provide support and encouragement here, but after reading your last reply, my heart just ached for your wife. It looks to me like no matter what she does or says it’s going to be the wrong thing here. Please Shane, and I say this with Christ’s love for YOU and your marriage, please prayerfully consider how you are hurting her. I understand how you are hurting as well, but she is your bride. When you ask her to constantly revisit her negative past, you are greatly dishonoring her. Choose love, honor, and cherish. Choose joy! It’s life-changing, brother.

  48. My husband and I have been together on and off for 21 years. We were married young, divorced a year later. We ended up back together and have been remarried for about 14 years. During the divorce we both saw other people. Now in our lives we have moved cities and ended up in a great little community. But what we didn’t know is that his ex is also here, not only is she here she has kids in my kids class and also attends our church and her kids are with my kids in PSR. I know that it shouldn’t bother me, he choose me! But my kids do not know our history of being divorced and I dont want them to know. I made some bad choices back then and would rather them not to know. I don’t want this women to start talking to others about how she used to date him and my kids over hear this. Now I am stuck with her in the same school and church for many years to come. I guess all I can do is pray. I know my husband loves me and would never do anything but he is having a hard time at why I am so upset with this. I am a stay at home mom that loves being involved in my kids class. Just not sure what to do. It makes me sad.

  49. I just wanted to say thanks so much for this. My husband and I both have a sexual past, but we have recognized the other as new in Christ, and have had a great relationship in so many aspects! Only recently has his ex been coming around, and that has made me start to wonder and even ask a question here and there about what they did together before we were together. It was heart breaking, and I was surprised that it even hurt so badly! But this article has really helped for me to see my flawed & comparing line of thinking. Thanks so much for the challenge & encouragement! Even though this was written a while ago, it is still delivering such Truth. Be blessed!

  50. Sheila, thank you for writing this. I’ve searched high and low for a gospel-centered resource concerning this topic and have been heartbroken to find nothing, until today. I’m encouraged… even just by knowing so many others are dealing with this too.

  51. M. Thomas says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I think that more than anything, it has helped me to validate my own feelings – I am not crazy or emotionally underdeveloped for feeling pain over my past or that of my husband. Knowing that I am not alone also solidifies to me that a loving Father in Heaven gave us the law of chastity for many reasons and one of those is to protect the hearts of our future spouses.

    I wish the best to everyone here and hope that we will all be able to find peace in our hearts through our Lord.

  52. Hi I’ve got a question no that is slightly off topic but within the realm. My husband and I have been together for 8 years and married for the past 2. Both of us were previously married. The other day while putting his socks away I noticed a card in then drawer. Naturally I was curious and picked it up. It was an old anniversary card from his ex wife to him with basically could be considered a hand written love note inside. This bothers me and I just can’t help it. To me it feels like I don’t have his whole heart. A part of it is still there or why would he keep it? I questioned him not yelling or anything like that and it was thrown back at me for snooping thru his things. If it were in a box somewhere that might be different. Today I wrote a 3 page heart felt letter in it explaining how a marriage is not 50/50 but rather 100/100. Moving on to me giving him100% of my heart and my past is truly behind me and how I’d like to feel he has given me the same. All this for him to say nice letter thanks. Never addressing the issue. I just don’t know what to do

  53. This article and comments definitely helped me in many ways. I am married almost 2years now..i was 29 and my husband 34 when we met so obviously there has to be a past. I asked him when we met and he told me he wasn’t a virgin and I accepted it. after our baby was born and little arguments we had, I started to think deep about his past as he told me he had intimate relationships with 2 different women. it was haunting me and I was so jealous. I could not overcome the way I feel because he touched other women and had sex with them meaning he had to see everything. I couldn’t bear it and still cannot..i cannot change what had happened, however last night I spoke to him about it and told him it is troubling me and I need to find out exactly what happened. he was not happy to talk about his past and said to leave it as he is ashamed of it but he could see I needed closure and so he answered every question I asked. he was 22 when had sex with a 22year old from college and that was because he was naïve and only once and she left him afterwards saying the weren’t compatible.. then he had other girlfriends but nothing happened sexually, and at age 32 he met a chubby girl through a friend and they dated for 3months and had sex only once and he said if it makes me feel better it only last 2minutes and few weeks after that she also told him they not compatible.he says most of girls just used him. he assured me that I am more beautiful/sexy then both of them and that I am best ever. I don’t know how much more good stuff I want to hear about me but I also asked him did the chubby girl ride him and he said yes and it wasn’t nice.i am so jealous as he had to see her naked, was she beautiful for him to want to be in her.. but somehow now I do feel a little better but I cannot accept that he could be intimate with people he never even loved or had an intention of marriage with. it is scary thinking you can give yourself in that way to someone you don’t even care aboutand vice versa. like those girls can have sex and just move on. where are the values and appreciation. he said he never loved them.. first one was infatuation and second one was a spur of the moment and both times he used protection. Am I driving myself crazy thinking more about his past???? I wonder if he actually had feelings for them and if he was attracted to have done that act???
    I feel disgusted and dirty because of his actions :( yet I love my husband.

  54. This site has been very helpful and also makes me realize that I’m not the only one going through the pain of being hurt by a spouses’ sexual past. Sometimes I feel like no one else in my circle of friends and family truly understands the pain I’m experiencing, but after reading these posts it makes me realize that a lot of people are plagued by similar situations. So here’s my situation:

    Although I wasn’t perfect, I remained a virgin until marriage. My wife was not. It honestly didn’t seem to bother me when I first found out. Yeah I was bummed but it wasn’t something I would dwell on or rarely even thought about….UNTIL…year 9 in our marriage when my wife’s ex began to ”like” a lot of her pictures on Facebook. This triggered everything and suddenly I became overwhelmed with jealousy. It slowly began to consume me. I began losing sleep wondering what they must have done….I had horrible visions. I wanted to know details thinking that would help but it only made things worse. I’ll be honest, I began to judge her. I was upset that I was in so much pain and began to take it out on her. Up until this point, I honestly thought that her ex was her only partner. I vaguely remember her saying that there was another situation when we were dating but must have completely suppressed that. (At year 5 or 6 in our marriage there was the conversation that there was a situation where it kind of happened with someone and her mom forced her to go to the pregnancy center to get tested. I wrote this off thinking no big deal and I was bummed but quickly got over it and didn’t think about it at all). This went on for 5 or 6 months and then one day I said something along the lines of “well at least there was only one partner.” The next day she felt like God told her to lay everything on the table and that she hadn’t been completely honest with me. As it turns out there was a period of her life early in college where she slept with quite a few people. I don’t know the exact number but between 6-10. These were apparently random hook-ups or one night stands. With the new news, I became depressed and for the next few weeks averaged just a couple hours of sleep a night. In fact there were a few nights where I don’t even think I slept for a minute. That was in December and here we are at the end of April and I’m still struggling. I’ll have stretches for a few days of being good and then stretches for a few days of feeling depressed and deep pain. I’ve been going through this cycle for a while now. I have been digging into God like never before and there are a million things that He is doing through this. (i.e. my wife and I are both becoming closer to God and we’ve gotten back into going to church). I guess my question for all of you is… apart from digging into God, what other steps can I take? I’m starting to wonder if mentally I have something wrong. I will have days where I literally think about it around the clock and I can’t get it out of my head. Do I need to get on medication? Has anyone done that? I’ve tried counseling a few times and it didn’t seem to help much. Also, has anyone else battled with having extreme highs and then extreme lows because of someone’s sexual past? There are days where I am just flat out depressed. I just want my old life back. It’s so weird to me that it didn’t bother me for the first 9 years of our marriage (although there were some things I didn’t know about then) but now and for the past year I’ll have days where it absolutely kills me inside.

  55. Bridgette says:

    Here’s a twist on this problem… My husband and I have been married 4 years. He was raised in church. I was not. I am 39 now- I wasn’t saved until I was almost 27. By then, I had many relationships, been married and divorced once. He has had several sexual partners and was also previously married and has a child with that person who he doesn’t have any relationship with (but does pay support). My husband likes to say he’s very “relationship inexperienced”. I believe this is a complete fabrication. Occasionally the topic of past relationships will come up. When he recounts stories about these individuals, the stories are in VIVID detail. Every time. He recounts things they did, places they went, how the relationships started, sexual things they did together, etc. He has told me he participated in group sex in high school. He was deployed overseas and during a background check to become a police officer it was revealed he paid for sex while deployed. He had a pornography addiction which he got help for after I insisted or I would end the marriage. Yet he can barely remember our anniversary and doesn’t believe in celebrating it or marking the day in any way. Our relationship is very “utilitarian”. We are basically room mates who parent a child. He never wants to have sex. He has a thousand and one excuses as to why. There has been conversation after conversation about it over the years and he gets defensive, blames it on everything under the sun then starts in with the excuses. It’s all a smoke screen and the real reason which I’m sure he will never confess. We have sex about once every two to three months – I believe he just does it to shut me up. (my love language is physical touch). There is no connection during sex. No romance. No “after glow” and barely any foreplay. Its just sex – it’s completely utilitarian. And it’s like pulling teeth to even get him to do it. I’ve stopped asking. The rejection hurts too much and makes me stay in an angry state. It’s been this way since I got pregnant with our daughter – which he was VERY angry about and wanted me to have an abortion which I refused. He doesn’t cherish me. He doesn’t regard me. He doesn’t behave like there’s anything special about me or our relationship. He refused to even take the day off work when we got married (at the courthouse). I could go on and on. I cook, I do his laundry, I wait on him practically hand and foot – I even tie his shoes for him (he’s overweight and it’s hard for him to do). I am overwhelmed by his behavior and verbal abuse and I don’t know how much more I can take. I feel like I’m trapped and don’t know what God would have me to do. We can’t afford counseling.. it’s way too expensive and we can’t find any churches that are willing to help..plus we don’t have any family or anyone who can watch our daughter so we are really stuck there. This has been going on now for six years and I am miserable. It hurts me to know how he talks about these past people and recalls all the details yet I cant even get him to be my friend.

  56. What would you do if your boyfriend used to hire escorts every so often to release his urges? I understand that this is better than raping someone. But I, for some reason cannot help but pass on judgement to him. It has been hard for me to reconcile his image. What would you do if you were in my shoes? What can I do to stop being a bigot?

    • Sheila says:

      Stacy, I am not sure what you mean by being a bigot. You are in a horrible situation–and you are absolutely right to be outraged! Your boyfriend was buying sex. He was using these women. It is not just the same as cheating–it is worse because it shows that he has little regard for women in general and he views sex as a mechanical thing. If you really believe that without the prostitutes he would become a rapist then I have to ask you: why are you with him?

      If he is truly repentant and wishes it had never happened then perhaps that is different, but these are some serious red flags to me about whether he is suitable material for a marriage.

  57. Anonymous says:

    So my situation is a little different and I’m not sure how to handle it. Some of this information is useful but some of it doesn’t apply. My husband and I are high school sweethearts and we’re both virgins when we got married 10 years ago. I just recently found out that he had a sexual affair with someone at work for 3 months. I’m heartbroken since that was something special we waited for just for us. We are working things out and seeing a counselor but I never thought I’d have to worry about thinking of him having sex with someone else and now I do. And I’m not sure how to get over it.. Thanks!

  58. Thank you all for your posts. Just before I was married, almost a year ago. I discovered a notepad with different websites (dating and casual sex and cyber sex) and passwords written in my future husbands desk. We were packing up his house preparing for his move. I knew he had been sexually active and had many partners, but was unaware of how many. I still am unaware and don’t really want to know.
    I wasn’t a virgin when we met. I have been divorced because my ex husband cheated with a teenager while he was married to me. I tried counseling to save that marriage and keep my family from being torn apart. My ex husband refused to go to counseling and eventually left our family to pursue a relationship with that teenage girl.
    Two separate issues, but my feelings were complete devastation. I have never viewed sex as casual or fun. I have always thought of it as an intimate moment with your significant other.
    I explained my devastation and was told that jon isn’t the same person now that he was back then. I accepted this, prayed on it and married him last Summer.
    Since we have been married I have discovered that he still talks to and is friends with many women he’s slept with in the past. He even insisted that my son be on the same baseball team as his best friends son…at the end of the season I learned that he had slept with his best friends ex wife five years ago when they divorced.
    It hurt to know that my now husband sees women he’s slept with and I never know if that girl or this girl is one of them. He doesn’t like to talk about his past to me. He says they aren’t proud moments in his life. With all of that said…I have also discovered since being married that Jon had an affair with a married woman prior to meeting me. She actually left her husband for him. He didn’t ask her to marry him, but the two carried on a relationship on and off for two years (most of which she was married during that time).
    I am seeing a therapist. I realize nothing can be done about someone’s past and I know in my heart that this man waited forty years to marry someone. He married me. It’s hard to get past the fact that he had a sexual relationship with a married woman, it’s hard to get past his multiple sexual encounters and it’s even harder knowing that I see some of these women who are still in his life. His not telling me which women, like he did with his best friends ex wife, feels like a betrayal. I actually felt like I’d been cheated on all over again. So many issues in this situation which may be leading my marriage down a slippery slope. Not only do I struggle with wondering if I am as good or if our sex life is enough for my husband, but I wonder if he thinks about his sexual moments when he sees these women. I am praying for guidance daily and am seeking a peace. Knowing we were made new creatures at marriage is helpful, but the insecurities and fearful emotions still capture my thoughts.

  59. I am so thankful to have found this post. In my late 30s, I got back in touch with my first boyfriend and love. We used to date when we were teenagers. We lost touch for 20 years and in the meantime, he became Christian. However, he kept his wild ways even after his conversion, having tons of one-night stands, dating and sleeping sometimes with 3 women at the same time, having unprotected sex which resulted in multiple pregnancies that all ended up in abortions and a couple miscarriages, hookups, etc. In the meantime, I only dated 3 guys after him, slept only twice with one of these guys while fooling around with all of three of them. So basically, I have only had intercourse twice in my life, been seen naked by 4 men in total in my life while my first love has tried lots of things under the sun when it comes to sex, with at least more than 20 women. He used to be a player and used lots of his past conquests. Knowing about all of this plus the abortionS, has made me uncomfortable and insecure. A part of me thinks that I’m not reacting like a Christian should (being forgiving and welcoming) but I can’t help as a woman to feel for these women, especially the ones he treated like dirt. It’s ironic because in my 20s, I used to ne scared to get married to a sexually inexperienced man and now that I’m with someone who is more than I bargained for, I wanna run for the hills. I’m also bothered by the fact that his sexual education was made through porn movies. He’s been celibate for a couple of years but he told me that it’s sometimes hard, that he feels like watching online porn and has to pray a lot to rebuke the thoughts. We freely talk about sex and one day, when I said I thought a certain sexual position was degrading for women, he angrily answered: “So, you are just gonna lay on your back and that’s it?”. I was both floored and shocked because as far as I’m concerned, you MAKE LOVE to your wife and you F*** your girlfriends. I feel like once we get married, I’ll have to do better than his past girlfriends and other sexual partners who obviously used to be ready to do anything to sexually satisfy him. Besides, it hurts and angers me that he freely gave to every woman he met, something that was supposed to be mine. I think it also shows that he has no self-restraint. Seriously, what do I have left? I will be held to some standards while he won’t, my only 2 instances of intercourse having been akin to a rape to me (the guy I slept with wasn’t very affectionate). I am afraid running into one of these women, one day, and seeing in their eyes that they had my man before me, that they had seen him naked. It makes me feel absolutely insecure. He told me that he would never compare me but I can’t believe what he says, since he once innocently compared me to his ex when we were talking about something. I know that he’s afraid of not being able to sexually satisfy me but at least, he doesn’t risk the ridicule of having men telling him: “I saw your wife naked”. When I think about his past, I wonder how could I ever sure that he isn’t comparing me to those women (he vividly remembers EVERY sexual encounter – we talk about everything, TMI) when we will be making love, that he isn’t sexually frustrated or isn’t trying something he saw in some porn movie. I try to keep in mind that he’s a new creature in God but I really resent him for his manwhore past. Although it wouldn’t have bothered him if I had been as promiscuous as he, I know he is proud of the fact that I only dated 3 men in 20 years after we broke up in high school. What about me? Shouldn’t I be able to proudly walk around and say that I’m married to a respectable man? None of my friend’s husbands has a past like my current fiancé. I am seriously questioning marrying him because after reading all the comments above, I know his sexual past will haunt our sexual future together. I really hate how the culture we’re originally from, equates manwhoring with virility. It’s absolutely OK for men to spread their seed, even the Christian ones. He even says that God must have been with him all these years since he didn’t catch any STDs, given things that he was doing. I really don’t get how people can engage in something as intimate as sexual intercourse with anyone, turns around and then say it meant nothing. How can people dissociate it from love? He says he’s getting tired of having to justify himself. We should probably not get married, I guess.

  60. When I was 21 I married a man older than me by 7 years.. I’d had one boyfriend prior to my husband, and thought we were happily in love.. until he raped me. I was too ashamed to tell anyone what happened. I felt like I’d lose my reputation as “the good Christian girl” and that no one would want me anymore. I felt dirty and worthless. I still struggle with it today. My husband had been with many other women. He said he never had “sex” by definition. But has come “as close as you possibly can to the real thing” with multiple partners. If that doesn’t leave you with horrible images in your head I don’t know what does. He’s had women sleep over and gone on vacation trips with other women. He even dated a woman who had a son from a previous marriage. She had breast implants. He’s been to strip clubs. I love my husband so much…. We are expecting our first child right now. But I feel like second best. I feel like a used up awkward adolescent. I am already self conscious about what my body will look like after I have our baby. What if it’s not as good as the mom he dated?? My dad cheated on my mom with prostiutes after 20 years of supposedly happy marriage. I live in constant fear that my husband will one day realize that i don’t add up… That I’m not enough to make him stay. He’ll throw me away like my boyfriend and my dad. He says he’ll never. He says he loves me so much. He says he’s so glad he married me. He wants me to be happy. But….. I don’t know how to get over it. I pray and ask God to give my heart peace. I ask Him to release me from fear. I ask Him to show me how to love my husband without jealousy and bitterness. But I just don’t know how.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Sheila for this wonderful post, and my sincere thanks to many of the wise and thoughtful commenters. I thought I was alone in my pain regarding my husband’s sexual past. I have not been married very long, and I was aware of his past before we married. It was very painful to know some of the stories, but thankfully he has not been promiscuous although it doesn’t make things easier.

    I chose to love him and marry him despite knowing the past because I could clearly see the kind of amazing man that he has become. We made mistakes together but both repented and he has become so wonderful and I feel so lucky to have him.

    Now, few months into marriage, I am revisited by the familiar pain and doing all it takes to avoid throwing his mistakes in his face. I wouldn’t want someone to do this to me, so why would I do the same to him? He has taken everything that’s been thrown at him with a lot of courage and is even willing to discuss things if it makes me feel better.

    However, I feel it is wrong to make him relive past pain that he has clearly gotten over with a lot of work and internal turmoil. This is my time to move past the pain of knowing what he has done, and yet choosing to love him anyway. Knowing small details may temporarily satisfy curiosity, but they will haunt you for a long time. So don’t ask for details!

    Some days I have so much anger, yet other days I feel at peace and accepting of the past. I believe it does get better, and acceptance is better than fighting in this case. I ask God to help me forgive my husband, as He has surely forgiven him. It would be foolish to throw away present joy and contentment for his poor past decisions.

    To all of you here who are struggling with similar issues, I wish you the best. Time and honest communication will heal your wounds and make your marriage happier and stronger.

  62. Steve D says:

    My story is similar to many here. I have some ideas that have been helpful for my wife and I. Maybe my post will help someone. I was raised a Christian and waited for my wife. I married at 27 still a virgin. However my wife was a new Christian. We fell in love. Her story was very different. She’d had 2 partners; brief experience with a high school classmate and a 3 year relationship in college. (Our marriage was 26 years ago.) I believed I had forgiven her and thought our intimacy would wash away the bad images. Not so. My jealousy only increased. I can identify with every hurt, jealous person who has posted. “Just don’t think about it.” That was impossible for me. I struggled with constant images. Insomnia. Sometimes couldn’t eat. Sometimes I’d have a few days or weeks of peace but the images always returned. If our sex life was intense or creative, I would feel worse. Maybe she did ‘that’ with them! Maybe she thinks of them when with me! Misery. Emotionally I began to close down. That hurt less.

    Some thought I still needed to forgive my wife. I read books on forgiveness. Asked her to forgive my sadness that tortured our marriage. Not helpful. My wife’s response was to be quiet. She just wanted to forget her past and thought I should to. I felt like MY past was ruining our marriage. I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t get those images and insecurities out of my head.

    My wife entered marriage a Christian but with much of the world’s baggage. She entered marriage thinking she sinned before God and hurt herself but not me. This is the worlds message. She gradually began to believe that I had reason to hurt and even be nearly devastated. By then a a lot of bad water passed under the bridge. For example, I found old love letters and pictures in the garage 10 plus years into marriage . She had forgotten about them. Not a big deal to her. I was beyond devastated. We learned after 25 years that she had to take an active part in protecting my heart. Photo albums, high school reunions, and San Francisco can evoke some very painful pictures for me. She has learned to review photo albums before I see them, squeeze my hand when high school loves are mentioned in a movie or a friend talks of the upcoming reunion.

    For years I struggled with my virginity. Virginity seemed to have provided me nothing but pain. I resented saving myself, doing the right thing, and being the one to hurt so much. We could make love and she would smile, hold my hand and fall asleep peacefully. I would often struggle with awful images and sleep poorly. We recently realized why she could sleep so well. I had given her peace. She had no insecurities with me. No comparisons. No images. No jealousy. We realized she had not been grateful for a great gift. Peace that I will not know. She has learned to thank me for her peace soon after we make love (usually the next day). I don’t resent waiting anymore as she is grateful.

    Next, and this may be controversial, she apologizes for the peace I don’t have. Not for the sins of the past but for the peace that I may never have. As we move forward, I hope this can just be a squeeze of the hand or a pat on my chest, and no words spoken but meaning conveyed. My pain is something that occurs almost everytime we make love. A very simple “I’m sorry for the peace that I’ve taken away” has been very helpful.

    Next, we have realized that so many things cause pain that shouldn’t. (Like going to San Francisco or talking about college days). She has added “I’m so ashamed of my past” to an occasional conversation. Previously I would dig up the past. “Don’t you realize how much this hurts?!” She felt attacked. With an occasional “I am so ashamed” my response then is to hug her and say “its OK”. I want to comfort her not attack her.

    I have had more peace in the last year than the last 25 years combined. She has taken some responsibility to heal my heart 1) thanking me for peace 2) apologizing for the lack of peace that is recurrent for me 3) an occasional I’m ashamed as triggers dictate. This has helped us. May not apply to you but take what may be helpful. I was ready to give up many times but glad I didn’t.

  63. This post has been so helpful for me. I’ve been married for almost 2 months now. My husband had sex with all his girlfriends before he married me and I, a virgin. He wasn’t promiscuous but he has had sex with every girlfriend that he had feelings for and I think that’s the hardest part for me. The fact that he enjoyed intimate moments with these women really bothers me. I feel so insecure that he has shared more intimate experiences with them than with me. We talked about some of his past experiences in detail and I really wish we hadn’t, that’s what fueled the way I’m feeling right now. He’s a great man and so supportive and sensitive, however I’m having a difficult time moving past the fact that I don’t think I’m enough for him. Thoughts?

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