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I am in my sixties and I recently married a woman my same age. She is a true gift. She is what I have wanted since I was in high school.
I suffer, many times every single day, thinking about a terrible decision she made shortly before we met. She invited an old classmate, a convicted drug addict, into her home and bed. They lived together for only 10 weeks.
She was not truthful about that relationship for the first eight months of our relationship. She truly does regret it and has no contact with him.
We are very lucky to have met each other. This is a great time in our lives to be in love.
I want to take a pill to help me never think about my loving wife being with another man so recently. I don’t want this to poison our relationship.
Because she was not truthful with me I have this nagging concern that I need to know more. What was the truth? Her being with this low life person is not consistent with what I know for fact my wife is. She is a good person.
How can I “fix” myself before I ruin a wonderful, God given relationship.
I’m thrilled you’ve found your dream relationship! I’m sure your wife is equally blessed to have you as her husband. Even though your joy is palpable, your pain and worry clearly cause you considerable distress. Let’s explore some healthy ways you can respond to your wife’s indiscretion.
You’ve identified two main concerns in your question. You feel betrayed by her keeping this information from you for eight months and you’re also concerned with the type of man she allowed into her life. You’re having a strong unwanted reaction and you’re wise to first look at your own reasons for responding this way.
Do you fully understand why you feel so threatened with her being with another man before she met you? Here are some possible questions you can ask yourself to better understand why this might be so difficult for you:
- Are you concerned about her character?
- Do you feel compared to this man?
- Are you worried about contracting a sexually transmitted disease?
- Are you worried about her judgement or boundaries?
- Would a different relationship time frame with this man change anything for you?
- Would knowing this information prior to marriage have impacted your decision to marry her?
She’s clearly ashamed about her ill-advised decision to partner up with this man and didn’t want it to reflect poorly on your view of her. Even though her sleeping with him prior to meeting you isn’t a betrayal against you, you would certainly feel betrayed if she lied about this prior relationship when you were asking about her history. It makes sense to wonder if there is more information you don’t have about her history.
She’s doing the right thing by not having contact with him and expressing sincere remorse for hurting you. We are taught in the Doctrine and Covenants that you can “know if a man [or woman] repenteth of [his or her] sins—behold, [he or she] will confess them and forsake them.”[i] Her accountability to you isn’t the fact that she shacked up with this man, but that she was untruthful about it.
But, the fact remains that her lying leaves you with additional questions. This is a great opportunity for you to understand her better. It’s also an opportunity for her to understand herself better. She’s not on trial and doesn’t need to be interrogated about her past. Instead, see if you can have conversations with her about what was going on for her during that time. Seek to understand her heart, her vulnerability, her pain, and her thought process. Invite a safe discussion in a spirit of genuine curiosity. \
Remember what President Spencer W. Kimball taught about this process of looking beyond the sin:
“Jesus saw sin as wrong, but also was able to see sin as springing from deep and unmet needs on the part of the sinner. This permitted him to condemn the sin without condemning the individual. We can show forth our love for others [and ourselves] even when we are called upon to correct them. We need to be able to look deep enough into the lives of others [and ourselves] to see the basic causes for their failures and shortcomings.”[ii]
The more you understand about your wife and her journey, the less you’ll care about this other man and his involvement in her life. You’ll have a deeper connection to her, feel more trust that she’s fully one with you, and you’ll have the security of knowing that she only wants to be with you. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself during this process of discovery, which will help her feel closer to you. This process will work better when it’s done with the spirit described in Isaiah when the Lord says, “Come now, and let us reason together.”[iii] Don’t be afraid of these conversations as they have the potential to bring you both closer.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected]
If you or a loved one are struggling with the devastating impact of pornography issues, sexual betrayal, and relationship trauma, I have created a 6-part audio program to help married couples strengthen their recovery. You can purchase the 6-hour audio program here for a limited time at the reduced price of $29 – https://geoff-steurer.mykajabi.com/marriage-recovery
About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, UT. He is the owner of Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com) and the founding director of LifeStar of St. George, an outpatient treatment program for couples and individuals impacted by pornography and sexual addiction (www.lifestarstgeorge.com). He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, available at Deseret Book, and the audio series “Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage”, available at www.geoffsteurer.com. He also writes a weekly relationship column for the St. George News (www.stgnews.com). Geoff also hosts the Illuminate Podcast (https://soundcloud.com/geoff-steurer/sets/illuminate-podcast) and has produced programs and resources to help couples rebuild broken trust. He holds a bachelors degree from BYU in communications studies and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University. He served a full-time mission to the Dominican Republic. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.
You can connect with him at:
[i] D&C 58:43
[ii] President Spencer W. Kimball, “Jesus: The Perfect Leader,” 1979 August Ensign, 5
[iii] Isaiah 1:18
emSeptember 2, 2019
I love the core idea of engaging in a spirit of love to try to understand better what was happening with her during that time. We all have our stories, but hiding them doesn't help a thing and having a safe place to share them and to learn from sharing them can, as the article states, build a sense of intimacy and trust. However, I am surprised that this article doesn't give just basic advice to ask for STD testing just in case. Anyone who has been sexually promiscuous (all the more so when drug addiction is involved in one or both partners) should be tested for STDs, and their partners should know those results to make informed decisions about safely managing their intimate relationship. Repentance can erase the sin, but it cannot magically make physiological consequences disappear. In that sense, I completely disagree with commenters who say that this is in the past and she has no obligation to talk about it. It's kind of like if he was going to ask her to be an organ donor for him. She can be the most loving, giving, caring, repentant person, but if her body is infected, he should know that before accepting fully her acts of love. They can still build a loving relationship, but you can't exercise agency without knowledge. And you can't build trust without honesty. If I were to ever have to remarry later in life, I'd absolutely be expecting a full disclosure of any sexual history and I would openly share mine. The bishop is not the mediator of the layers of trust needed in an intimate, marital relationship. He's only the mediator of worthiness for church membership. That's not insignificant, but it should never be used as the only measure for whether a person is healthy mentally, physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. I also agree with the person above that the betrayal he feels may take some healing of its own.
LoriAugust 10, 2019
Her past is her business as is his, and not many would bring up an embarrassing past situation until they were sure they were in a secure relationship which takes time. This man is 66 years old, not a kid. I am sure he hasn't been perfect either. How sad that he wants to dwell on the negative and has made it a cross to bear. They both wanted a safe and loving partner and he is going to ruin it with his judgmental attitude. Her past had nothing to do with him.