Relationship Advice: When The Past Doesn’t Stay In The Past



By Jackie Pilossoph, Divorced Girl Smiling Editor-in-Chief

An email I got from a woman seeking relationship advice and even thinking of separating because her husband cannot handle what happened in her past:



I have been with my husband since the age of 18 and we have been married for almost 30 years and have three kids. The first 20 years were pretty wonderful. Unfortunately, that all changed about 5 years ago.


Sometime early in our marriage, information slipped out during a drinking evening about my sexual past before I met him. He became very upset. He seemed to let it go and I thought that he had dealt with it and that we had moved on.  But five years ago, after watching a movie which mirrored our situation, he lost it and went out walking in the rain for hours.  He came back and broke down emotionally and said that I had broken him and our marriage.  He told me he had no respect for me and that I had deceived him into marrying me thinking I was a certain kind of person, when I was actually a lying manipulative slut.


We have gone for counseling, but that has not worked.  I don’t know whether to stay or to go.  We have no sex life or any physical touching and he watches porn on a regular basis, despite the fact he knows it hurts me.  But, in every other way, he is supportive of me.  He supports my career, he is a partner at home in chores and we are comfortable financially.  We also have a lot in common and have a lot of fun together.   


Am I deluding myself. I am also terrified of being alone. 



Three words come to my mind after reading this: This. Poor. Woman.


I cannot express how badly I feel about this situation, and how much I just don’t understand what is going through her husband’s head.


In my opinion, when a couple begins dating exclusively—when they have the conversation that they are not going to see other people anymore, that is when things really start to count.


The couple should accept each other for who they are, which means that if they truly love each other, they shouldn’t concern themselves with what happened to each of them in the past, before they knew each other (or even before they became exclusive, for that matter) For example, if one of them slept with 100 people, they can choose to disclose that, (which I would recommend-I don’t think anyone should go into a marriage without being an open book) but if he has been tested for STD’s and is now committed to being monogamous, does it really matter? I really don’t think it does.


If you started dating exclusively on April 8th, then anything that happened pre-April 8 shouldn’t matter. There are exceptions. But I’d say for the most part, why does it really matter?


So, my point is, it sounds like this woman was a little bit sexually promiscuous. As long as she stopped the behavior when the two were exclusive, and as long as she didn’t hurt anyone, and as long as she was sexually responsible—getting tested for STD’s, etc. then why does her past matter to him so much? When people are young and stupid (myself included) they do things they realize later were risky and dumb and outrageous, and they thank God for protecting their idiot selves.



Furthermore, this man and woman were married for almost 30 years! Doesn’t three decades of a great marriage override what she did in the past?


Here’s the key in all of this. The fact that the guy watches porn speaks volumes. I believe he hates himself for his porn addiction, and is transferring his own self-hatred onto his wife. After all, if he was truly disgusted by what she did, then why would he want to watch porn?


The bottom line is, this woman has been mentally abused by her husband for years for crimes she didn’t commit and it sickens me.


If my husband called me a manipulative slut and other names, and was berating me for doing all the stupid things most teens and people in their twenties do, I wouldn’t want to “have a lot of fun together” like she says they do.


Katz and Stefani Family Law Attorneys


It sounds like the only reason she is staying in the marriage is because she is afraid to be alone, and I respect that. It’s scary to get divorced. But I wonder how long she is going to let her husband punish her for his purpose of sweeping his own demons under the rug.


It’s her decision. All I can do is tell her that she did nothing wrong and she didn’t hurt anyone if she slept with a few too many guys when she was young. It sounds like she has been a great wife for 30 years, so the question becomes, Does she feel she can keep living with this abuse and with a porn addict? Or does she feel like she might deserve to be in a less judgmental situation? I hate to sound trite, but life is short. My prayers are with her.

Like this post? Check out my blog, “The One Thing You Can’t Give Your Spouse.”


Buy novels by Jackie Pilossoph



4 Responses to “Relationship Advice: When The Past Doesn’t Stay In The Past”

  1. Miserable but feeling guilty

    I am the one who wrote the letter above to you. I am finally ready to leave my marriage, but I am feeling a lot of guilt and I don’t know how to cope with it. I have been my husband’s whole world for a very long time and he has absolutely no one else in his life. He is a homebody and does not have any friends. He also is not close to his family. I feel horrible about leaving him all alone with no support system, but we are both unhappy in our marriage and the only thing that has been keeping it going has been a very unhealthy lifestyle of drinking together to create false intimacy. I have been using the alcohol to keep myself content and now that I have stopped, my true feelings have emerged stronger than ever and I want to pull away and be alone. How do I deal with the reality that my husband will have no one if I leave?

    • Jackie Pilossoph

      First of all, great job on recognizing the drinking and stopping!! I hope you are in a program that will offer you the support to stick to it. As far as your husband, talk to him. Tell him how you feel. You can’t be responsible for yourself and for him, right? He needs to find his way. You should consider counseling together–even if you are splitting up.

      • Miserable but feeling guilty

        Thanks for your response, Jackie. Unfortunately, my husband has never really believed in counseling and this was solidified when he felt they were blaming him – the hurt one – and trying to change him instead of me.

        I am going back to counseling on my own to help deal with the guilt and the drinking, though. Thanks again! I feel like I am moving towards a better life, albeit very slowly.

  2. Max

    Thank you for being so honest with your story. I am in a similar situation however i am the guy who feels very much like your husband. My wife and i have been married for 3 years with two kids. I found about her sexual past and feelings of incredible jealousy and hurt came. I know what your husband is going through and yes he needs to get over it but at the same time there is a place for you to help and support. I remember feeling depressed and less of a man for being with my wife as horrible as it sounds. Please talk to him and reassure him that in some way or another he was special. He is hurt more than anything. Hope this helps


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *