Their relationship was going great, so Michael finally decided to pop the big question and asked Jennifer to marry him. She said yes. Joy overwhelmed their hearts and they quickly began making all the appropriate wedding arrangements. They set a date, found a location for the ceremony and reception, and even hired a limo driver. But a few months before the wedding, Jennifer was internally struggling with something. She couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and finally decided to talk with her fiancé about it.
Michael was a virgin. He waited his entire life to find the “right” girl and had never met anyone like Jennifer, a woman who could help him become the man he always wanted to be. Jennifer, however, was not a virgin. She loved Michael deeply, yet she knew she didn’t want this wedding to happen without coming clean and confessing her past sexual relationships with her future husband. This was the man she would spend the remainder of her life with; therefore, she had to confess.
Surprisingly, Michael took the news very well. He looked into her eyes, told her it was all in the past, and even offered full forgiveness. Jennifer, thrilled at his response, lay in his arms sobbing for the next several minutes. She was astonished that somebody could love her this deeply and could truly forgive her for giving her body sexually to other men. She was now, more than ever, fully convinced she, too, was marrying the “right” man. Only one problem…Michael lied.
This is a story we’ve heard countless times. Two people begin seriously dating, or perhaps become engaged, and one feels it necessary (and rightly so) to confess past sexual experiences to their future spouse. The response they receive is genuinely positive: “It’s all in the past. Don’t worry about it. I’ve done some really stupid stuff, too, you know? I forgive you. Let’s just move forward.” And they do move forward…for a while.
But then something happens months into their marriage. Forgiveness, it seems, was more difficult than they ever imagined. He (or she) begins to wonder how they “compare” to others who have been naked with their spouse. Or perhaps he (or she) spends more time focusing on the truth that their spouse was intimate with others, when they could have been focusing on the truth that their spouse chose them above all others. Nevertheless, the thoughts and images of their spouse lying down with somebody else haunt them. The forgiveness they offered, it seems, wasn’t genuine. And years into marriage, sex is all but firing all on cylinders. One spouse cannot at all put a finger on why things are so off kilter. The other internally blames their formerly promiscuous spouse for their sex life being in the crapper. They never talk about it. And the pain lingers….
This may or may not describe your current marriage. Our guess is some may be reading this and thinking, “My spouse and I have talked through all of this and we’re doing very well.” That’s great! Really, it is. But if you read the above example and thought to yourself, “I can relate with Michael” or “I can relate with Jennifer”, we ask that you take some time to dwell on your current marriage. Is there any form of unforgiveness that may be hindering your marriage or your intimate lives? Is your sexual past, or theirs, still a problem for you?
If so, this is a series dedicated to you. We’ll pick up one week from now to begin to discuss how you can deal with the pain, frustration, and anger of former sexual encounters. Until then, we recommend you take the next week to:
1) Spend time every day thinking of all the things you love about your spouse
2) Write down the top 3 life experiences you’ve had with your spouse (before or during your marriage with them)
3) Listen to the song you danced to during your wedding, or look at your wedding pictures. Remember why you fell in love with your spouse, and remember that they chose to be with you, for better and for worse.
Have another topic you’d like us to cover in a future series? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.