If your husband has sexual baggage, can you get past it? Can you put your husband’s sexual past behind you?
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 past relationships, or stop worrying that he enjoyed sex with ex-girlfriends more than with you, his wife? Why does your husband’s past bother you so much?
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 jealousy of past relationships, 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.
Many women deal with a husband’s sexual past that looks something like this:
A guy has several sexual partners before he’s married. Maybe he even lived with someone before. After that he came back to Christ (or came to Christ for the first time) and his life changed.
He hasn’t talked about his sexual past 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?” You find yourself super jealous of your husband’s past relationships, and worrying about them constantly.
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.
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. Your husband’s past doesn’t have to haunt you. 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? If his sexual past wasn’t with a spouse, then 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 Your Husband About His Past Relationships
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. It helps you actually TALK about these things in a non-judgmental way (and it’s always easier to talk about things when there are conversation prompts rather than when you’re just bringing it up yourself!) And you’ll also have such a great time together that you’ll realize: this is our life NOW, and that’s what matters. So start those conversations and create those memories!
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.
If you’re truly haunted by your husband’s past, it has to stop.
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?
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?