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.
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.”