Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

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Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by mfree6464 » 23 Feb 2016, 18:37

I married the love of my life in the temple nearly 14 years ago. I love her now more than I did then and am so happy with the life that we have built. We were both raised LDS and come from strong LDS families who are still active - we are still very active as well and go to the temple regularly. I am a returned missionary and saved myself in every way for my wife. Aside from one goodnight kiss to another girl before we met, my wife has been my first experience physically in every regard. When we were dating I knew she had had a couple of serious boyfriends in high school (one of whom was not a member) so I asked her if things had ever gotten inappropriate in those relationships. She told me they had with the non-member but it did not progress to sexual intercourse - and that is as specific as she got. I had always told myself that if the one I fall in love with is not a virgin then I would be ok with that. I know some people have "virgin" on their check list of qualities they require in potential spouses, and that is fine, but for me it was not a deal-breaker. As our relationship progressed I admit that it was hard for me to know she had been that physical with someone but I never even came close to considering breaking things off over it. We had a few talks over the ensuing months where I would tell her about my feelings in that regard. She was patient and understanding but uncomfortable and did not like talking about it. About a month before we got married, I felt like I needed to know exactly how far she had gone so, for the first time, I asked her specifically about how far her experiences went with that non-member. She told me "kissing and touching" and sort of waved her hand across her whole body. I then followed that up by asking, "kissing below the belt?" And she quickly said, "no". I felt good about that answer for nearly 14 years.

Fast forward to last month and now we have a daughter in middle school. We were discussing how to approach the situations she is being faced with now (pornography, friends becoming sexually active, drugs, alcohol) that were not such major issues in elementary school. For some reason in the midst of that conversation I said something to the effect of "You were rebellious but you never took things to the point of oral sex, right?" I asked this question with complete confidence that the answer would be "no!" Well, I was wrong. She hesitated, didn't want to lie, and said she had. On two occasions she and that non-member boyfriend had oral sex. We briefly discussed it, I was surprised but took it well in my opinion. I didn't get emotional and we finished the night talking about other things on very good terms. But as we laid down to go to sleep I found myself laying there with my thoughts. After a couple hours I decided I wanted to write down everything I was feeling and about two sentences in the pen fell out of my hand and I lost it. I cried like a little baby for about 15 minutes. Since that day (about 4 weeks ago) I have been an emotional mess. I love my wife with all that I am, and I have good moments most of the day. But at the same time, I don't go a single day without falling into despair and feel terrible sorrow - unlike anything I have experienced. I can't stop thinking about her being with another man in that way. It just comes into my head at random times. I thought for so long I was her one and only in that regard and I feel like it has been torn from me and I will never get it back. About every 3-4 days (even to this day) I lose it and cry like a baby for 5 min or so and just try to get it all out. I literally have not cried like this since I was a little boy. And never have I cried over the same issue for so long. I feel like I have had a curse placed on me. Nothing will ever bring back what I thought I once had for 14 years. Even in the eternities. I feel like some people who suffer unjustly in this life at least have the next life to experience blessings they miss out on here (marriage, having children, etc). But I know that our actions on this earth have consequences and I fear that one of the consequences of my wife's actions on two nights as a 16 year old have cursed me with sorrow forever. I will forever know that she has shared with someone else what was supposed to only be shared with her eventual husband (me.) It breaks my heart. I didn't know how much I treasured thinking that I was her one and only in that way. It wasn't until it was gone that I truly realized how much comfort that brought to me. Additionally, there were things she had done with him that she had never done with me. It tore me apart. It literally was and still is excruciating to think about and know. I feel so helpless.

This is my first time posting and I respectfully ask that only those with experience similar to mine respond to this question. Everyone has opinions on this matter but I have found (through personal experience) that until you actually go through this it is difficult to properly address the situation. To those reading who have not been through something like this, you probably think I am overreacting. Those who have been through this or something similar will hopefully be able to offer me some perspective on this. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by marty » 24 Feb 2016, 02:23

I had something typed up and lost it, so I'll do the short version. :thumbdown:

I was not my wife's first. She was mine. I've never thought twice about it. We have a fantastic unrepressed sex life.

I have a hard time understanding why you were okay with the idea of her being fondled, but now are devastated about the idea of oral sex. There's not much difference.

You're devastated by losing something that was a fantasy crammed down the throats of us "children of the 80s". If you stop and really think about what you've lost, it's nothing. But you gained a 14 year marriage with someone who loves you and who gave herself to you. Thousands (hopefully) of sexual experiences compared to a couple of minor things 14 years ago just isn't worth being upset over.

If you're worried about her comparing, then give her a good reason to forget. I've always found the idea that my wife had past lovers to be a very healthy and motivating factor in making sure I was always #1 on her list.

Good luck. It sounds like you're in pain, and I wish I had more comforting things to say. It's not your fault. You're reacting how we were taught to react.

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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by DarkJedi » 24 Feb 2016, 04:30

There's more than the sex in the picture here - your wife lied to you for 14 years. I'm not a psychologist, but that's my take. Speaking of psychologists, I suggest you see one either alone or as a couple.
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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by Roadrunner » 24 Feb 2016, 11:39


Like you, I’m sharing some intimate and (to me) somewhat embarrassing details of my life. I share hoping that you can relate and that it can bring you a small measure of comfort knowing that your feelings are not unique.

I’ll skip to the conclusion and then explain how I got there. My issues with my wife’s sexual history are my problem, not hers. I believe that. She’s repented and I can’t in good conscience constantly bring it up with her. I may eventually need to see a professional counselor about it because it continues to gnaw at me – although I’m better now than when I first found out. I think DJ’s advice to see a psychologist is probably good advice. The advice to simply sexually perform better rings hollow to me, and I can’t just “fix it.”

In many ways I’m the poster child of being a good Mormon boy. I’ve never tried alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. Hadn’t done anything more serious than kiss a girl before I was engaged – I’ve only kissed 4 girls in my life. Eagle Scout, served a faithful mission, went to BYU. Straight As, played piano, sports, worked part time. I was a boring kid. I never even said swear words. The one big sin I committed was masturbation – and even that sin wasn’t extreme. My dad was a bishop for part of my teenage years and he drilled it into my head that this was a sin next to murder. I felt tremendous guilt from 6th grade until I got married because I was committing a terrible sin practically every day. I cannot exaggerate the effect this had on my teenage years – I had very low self esteem. Once I asked my seminary teacher anonymously if masturbation would cause me to burn at the 2nd coming. I was on a school sports team and I fasted during a tournament to prove to God how much I wanted to overcome it and not surprisingly I performed terribly.

Fast forward to after my mission. Meet a beautiful girl, short engagement, marriage in the temple. She tells me she’s a virgin (which I suppose is technically correct) and of course the worst I’d done is kiss a few girls. About 9 years into marriage somehow it slips out that she’s had oral sex and mutual masturbation with two guys as a teenager. Not only once or twice each, but probably hundreds of times. I was devastated but never thought about divorce. About 5 years after that she tells me that she was engaged to another man once but never had sexual relations of any kind with him – only an engagement. I still think about the oral sex / engagement probably once a day and it still bothers me.

I’ve been married to her for 20 years and I love her deeply – she is the reason I’m still in the church. I never ever want to lose her. We still have a great relationship in every way including sexually. She tells me that her past relationships cause her tremendous regret and that her repentance process was long and difficult and not worth the pleasure during her teenage years.

This is why it bothers me. You’ll notice that most of this is about me, not her:
• To me oral sex = sex. I believe that if I had an affair but “only” had oral sex that my wife would consider it cheating and that the church would excommunicate me.
• In some ways oral sex is more intimate that regular sex. She won’t perform oral sex on me – but she willingly did with two guys as a teenager.
• I lived through years of repression in every way during my teenage years and felt extreme guilt for something I now realize is 100% normal.
• I feel that I missed out on part of my childhood. No experimentation in any way whatsoever.
• I feel that virtually everyone around me experimented with sex, alcohol, or drugs as a youth and is better for it now. They seem to relate better with people and have more of a social network than I do. I honestly believe that living a more typical teenager lifestyle makes people more successful professionally and socially.
• I know current bishops who were wild sexually and experimented with alcohol, drugs, etc during high school. It seems like having it both ways and they seem hypocritical to me. I know this is not fair and that it’s judgmental of me and that this means I don’t understand the atonement. But it’s how I feel and am struggling to overcome it. Somehow it just seems convenient that someone can do virtually anything for years and then have a few weeks of sorrow and repentance and it’s all forgiven. Again I realize this is my issue to overcome.
• My wife lied to me for years.

This is not an emotional issue that I can overcome easily. It’s been 13 years since my wife told me about her sexual relationships and I still think about them – most of the time I’m now able to put it out of my mind, but occasionally it just burns inside of me. The most common trigger is when I hear on the radio or in a movie that someone is a virgin or that someone has only had sex with one person – as if it’s abnormal and weird – and it usually makes me grumpy for the rest of the movie. I fear that I’m going to be 80 years old before I figure out that I let it bother me for decades for no good reason whatsoever.

The parable of the prodigal son bothers me. I’m the son who never left. I sincerely wish I could forget about it but I’m not emotionally mature enough to handle it completely. Yet. I have no good advice except that for me it’s gradually gotten better and that I remind myself that NOW is what matters, not 30 years ago.

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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by mom3 » 24 Feb 2016, 12:27

Gentlemen - Thank you for having this conversation. I am/was the nearly perfect LDS girl, and then some. I am a low sex girl. Mind, mental interests, sports, life direction, etc. counted to me. I could blame it on the church, but I don't think so. I knew my LDS chick friends. I was and am a anomaly. That said life seems to be full of people who, as Roadrunner pointed out, get to have both lives. And it wrankles the soul.

I am not interested in going into my history. It really doesn't apply to this conversation. What does apply is the struggle between desire, self-worth, and comfort.

We all have strong desires. We can't even probably name all the ones we have, and sometimes a desire we never knew comes whipping through and blindsides us.

The deepest relationships we have are our marriages. Even if they are crappy, we desire a very specific marriage. We pin everything on it, including our self-worth. This juggernaut is the fulcrum of our daily existence. Most of the time we don't even notice it. Our second deepest relationships are parent to child. Even if they are a failure our longing for the perfect scenario still exists. This makes any disappointment whether real or perceived - agonizing. We don't like ourselves, we don't like them, we struggle to function in the world. It is the center of our universe.

I have recently learned that our strongest defense or saving grace in these tight places is knowing and owning ourselves. And it's really hard. Psychologists call our natural connected tendency fusion. We sort of lose ourselves and fuse to the other. But when our desired relationship hits a bump, it causes that fusion damage. And we become the collateral damage. However when our energies are spent in honoring ourselves and un-fusing (not uncaring, unloving, or disconnecting a relationship with the other person) ourselves from them - everyone of us gets healthy. It's kind of weird.
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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by LookingHard » 24 Feb 2016, 12:47

You asked for only those that have the same situation and I am not, but in my decades of deep struggle in my life I have done quite a bit of research into the area of marital problems. You are not the first to bring up this issue. Outside of the church there are many people that struggle with dealing with the image/idea of their spouse having sex with someone before them.

I can say as far as her having had oral sex twice before, you may not know HOW she felt about it not only now, but then. She may have been emotionally immature and was pressured by her boyfriend and then afterwards felt VERY bad about it with lots of shame. So her brain associates oral sex with extreme negativity now. So you do need to not multiply your anxieties with her shame or things could go downhill quick in your relationship.

I would agree very much with the comment to go get some counseling - even if it is just you. A good counselor can help you work out some of your own issues before moving on to your wife.

Be patient with her. Be patient with yourself. It isn't "bad" that you are feeling this way. It is a reaction to a bit of a shock. It is bad if you don't work on this before it eats at your marriage any more.
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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by hawkgrrrl » 24 Feb 2016, 12:52

This is a tough one, but I'll weigh in. I'm inclined to give her a pass for the lie because sexuality is so fraught in the church; regardless of her feelings about her past (shame? guilt?) she probably had very good reason to fear how you would feel about it as she's been subjected to YW lessons telling her that her entire worth is about giving her future husband the precious gift of her sexual purity. I mean, that's a lot of pressure. Mormons with sexual hangups? You don't say!

One more thought about oral sex as premarital sex. Usually this is the kind of things religious kids do to avoid having actual sex. It's seen by some as a loophole (and others rationalize it) because you don't get pregnant from it. I wouldn't necessarily assume she was into it like a porn star. Teenage sex by all accounts is not fabulous and wonderful. It's much more awkward than all that usually. They are usually novices, socially inept, unsure what they are doing. Let's not romanticize a teenage fumble.

But let's also be realistic. She didn't know you. She doesn't really owe you any explanation of that at all. It had nothing to do with you. She married and loves you. You've built a life together. Trying to compete with a teenage lover is silly. I agree that all you've lost is a fantasy. But what you wrote also makes me nervous about another quality you may have: sexual possessiveness. That's not a healthy position to take in marriage, not because you shouldn't have total sexual fidelity in marriage (I believe you should), but because being possessive will choke the love out of a relationship. It's based in fear. Not that I believe everything in Donnie Darko, but fear drives out love. We can't be insecure and love another because the insecurity is our own ability to love ourselves, and we can only love others when we love and accept ourselves. Otherwise it's codependency, not love.

If it's not possessiveness, but it's competitiveness, then I agree with marty:
If you're worried about her comparing, then give her a good reason to forget.
This is excellent advice.

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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by Dax » 24 Feb 2016, 13:00

I have read and read this post and find it very interesting. I have been on the other side of this as the wife not having been told everything in exact detail by my husband. I really don't think that your wife lied to you when you first questioned her, she waved over her whole upper half, that I assumed would include her mouth which brings into play is oral sex the same as vaginal sex? You can debate that all day long but the real issue is here is you. You feel you got the short end of the stick. That you sacrificed sooooo much to remain a virgin and pure and she "didn't" according to your definition. Now you are jealous and depressed that you didn't get to "play" like that all those many years ago. If you are not careful you will easily use this as an excuse to justify all sorts of bad behaviors down the road. I know because I started to use my husband's past to justify myself in almost any mundane matter. I finally had to ask myself if I was better that Christ? If Christ could forgive him in a matter that was long BEFORE I came into the equation why the hell should I get to be such a jerk. Let it go, you are not a victim and neither was I !!

Oh and a side note. I just have to say to all the guys that are quasi ok with polygamy, welcome to the emotional side of it. Since many men can't understand why modern women would have an issue with polygamy, maybe a guy lamenting over his wife's betrayal from BEFORE she was with him will open your eyes to what many women feel when the church still teaches and supports polygamy in some forms today.

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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by mfree6464 » 24 Feb 2016, 14:00

Thank you all for your responses. Many of them have given me some new perspective which is what I am after since this is all still so fresh. I would like to reiterate that the purpose of my posting is to seek advice from those who have had either direct or very close indirect experience with similar situations. I appreciate everyone's opinions and you all have been kind, but at this point I am not looking for any sort of diagnosis as to what is wrong with me (unless you have personal experience in the arena.) I am just hoping to get some insight and counsel from those who have walked my path or paths similar. I do agree that I may need some counseling and I am open to this. Again, it is all only a month old and I would like to give it a few months at least so I know how I really feel about it all so I can fully evaluate it with professional help if needed.

Last night my wife and I were talking about my feelings. I believe she is fully repentant and I do not question this in any way. I believe the Atonement works and has worked in her case. In fact, I believe at this point in our lives she is the purer of the two of us. She really is a Saint in every sense of the word. As I spoke with her she mentioned how this experience has been weird for her. How she feels like she is a third party looking on and offering me advice. She tells me she barely remembers the experiences and I believe her - in fact I know this to be true based on past experiences with her over 14 years and I will just leave it at that.

As for forgiveness, I don't hold this over my wife's head. I am not angry at her. I am not even angry that she didn't tell me - she had that right and I respect it fully. But I do feel that going so long thinking her sexual experience level was (x) and now finding out it is (x+y) has amplified my emotions. I do wish I could have dealt with this 14 years ago or at least started the process at that time. Personally, I do believe that when two Mormon youth (or youth from any faith that preaches abstinence) marry for the first time it is within their rights to ask about sexual history. If someone saves themselves for marriage and they want that in return I personally believe they have the right to know that about a prospective spouse. As I said however, I also believe that one who has repented has the right to keep that between them and God. But I don't feel it is wrong to ask about it and/or seek out sexual purity in a potential spouse if that is something one seeks.

Roadrunner, my emotions really mirror yours. Though I think it will be ultimately easier for me to deal with two "missteps" from my wife verses the "hundreds" you have dealt with. The situations are similar but I think there is a marked difference there. I appreciate your thoughtful response and frankly it scares me that it has carried on for you so long. This is a fear that I have. I shared this fear with my wife last night. I told her that logically I understand that this does not matter, yet at the same time nothing has mattered more or affected me in such a dramatic way in my life. I broke down and she just held me. Her love and concern for me is buoying me up through this trial of mine. If I were in a bad marriage I would be a broken man right now. I thank God that I have a woman like her in my life. Like you, I think often of the prodigal son parable and it bothers me. My wife lived how she wanted to in her youth. The two episodes of oral sex were the farthest she went but she did go to "2nd base" (and kind of 3rd base) many times with both of her boyfriends in high school. I am encouraged by the fact that I have known about the drinking and the 2nd/3rd base thing since we dated. It bothered me initially but I was able to forget those things completely in time. She also has the benefit of knowing what it is like to sin in that way, repent and return to the light so to speak. She tries to explain to me her perspective but I just can't grasp it. Much like how she can't fully understand what it would be like if I told her that I lied and did actually have oral sex with a girl on a couple occasions in high school in a moment of weakness. She told me she would be a mess if I said that to her, but she still can't fully understand it. She also gets the comfort that comes with knowing she is my absolute one and only from a sexual perspective. I would also like to say to RR that I do not feel oral sex is sex. It is a form of sex which is why I am so troubled by the fact that I was able to deal with "fondling" (ie 2nd/3rd base) but be so crushed by this new revelation (3rd/4th base.) I feel oral is MUCH closer to sex than just touching or even mutual masturbation. It is hard to understand the Atonement on this matter from my perspective. How does it heal me? I have never considered it in this way.

My real issue is just a deep sorrow that I can't seem to shake. I feel like I lost something that gave me comfort. It's not a possessive thing in my opinion. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that sexual relations outside of marriage are wrong. It is part of the plan to be your spouse's one and only. That is how it is designed and how it is supposed to work. When that changes the plan is disrupted and this has caused me great heart ache for 4 weeks now. It's not that I feel like I own my wife's sexuality. It's more that I held our experiences so precious and to know she has shared some of that (more than I thought) with someone else and the idea that this fact will never change for all eternity is heartbreaking to me at this time.
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Re: Coping With Previous Sexual History of a Spouse

Post by DarkJedi » 24 Feb 2016, 14:14

I hope you're not assuming (because you know what happens when we ass-u-me ;) ) that because I didn't bare my soul or give details about my own experience that I don't have experience. My experience is exactly why I said what I said. FWIW, the roles were reversed and my sexual activity happened prior to becoming a member, it was discussed before we married and we have both moved past it. That's why I won't discuss it, it's over, my behind is in the past. Your second post only confirms to me that there's much more afoot here than sex - no offense intended.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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