Thursday 22 June 2017

Dear Patricia: His night of teenage passion with older woman still casts a shadow

Patricia Redlich

Q I'VE been married for 25 years to a man I love. We are a very close couple. When we first started dating, my husband owned up to a one-night- stand with an older woman when he was 17. She was a widow and in her 40s. He said he was young and inexperienced and it lasted only five minutes. He was staying in her house at the time, and said he went back to his room as soon as it was over. During a conversation recently, however, it came to light that he had spent the night with her and had done a lot of sexual exploring.

I feel betrayed and hurt that he hid from me the full extent of what went on. I feel he should have told me the truth right at the beginning, as I would then have had the option to either deal with it or walk away. You may think this is petty, but I feel this has cast a shadow over our 25 years together. I'm now wondering if he's been thinking about her whenever we had sex.

My husband says it all happened before we met, that it has no bearing on our marriage and that I'm looking to be a martyr in all of this. He just doesn't get it, how hurt I feel.

Now I wonder what else went on. I'm tortured with thoughts of him with this woman, and the mark she has left on him. My husband says I'm over-reacting. Am I?

Patricia replies:

YOU'RE not hurt, actually. You're jealous. And if you handle that jealousy correctly, it can put a sparkle into your marriage rather than burdening your relationship. You've also reason to be grateful. Think about it. If your husband had just spent five minutes with this woman he would have learned nothing. During the night, he moved from adolescent fumbling to a lover's light touch. Your marriage, I imagine, benefited from that. Two inexperienced people might have fumbled forever.

And no, before the moral outrage begins, I'm not suggesting young men should seduce, or be seduced by, older women. I'm simply saying that since it happened, you could be quietly grateful for the good bits.

Jealousy can spur us on, or pull us asunder. Instead of feeling one-down, why not channel your energy into enjoying a whole new phase in your sex life with your husband? You do have that choice, you know. How we see things is ultimately a choice.

Yes, I understand that you feel vulnerable. But you can change that. You can rejoice in the fact that you care enough to be jealous, rejoice in the fact that you have a live, vibrant and communicative marriage, and take up the challenge to be sexier than any fortysomething-year-old widow of bygone days.

Ask for nice nightwear as a Christmas present.

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