Wednesday 26 June 2019

Dear Mary: I can't get over she lied about her sexual past

Photo posed
Photo posed

Mary O’Conor

I have a problem with my wife's past. When we met, I was a virgin. I had only one girlfriend before her. She was a teenager and had asked me to wait until she was ready. However we broke up and so that magic moment never came for us.

Later, I found out that she had been cheating on me - what a blow for my masculinity.

When I was 21 I met my wife who was then 18. I fell in love with her immediately, because she was a really pretty girl who wanted to date me and wanted to have sex with me. Because of my lack of experience I thought all girls to be angels then, despite my first experience. So I didn't pay much attention to the fact that my new girlfriend often mentioned some male friends. She said those were just friends and I trusted her. She said she had serious relationships with two guys before me. I told her that I'd been a virgin when we met.

She smoked a lot and I was happy when she told me that she would give it up.

And that is where the first problem came. I thought when an angel says something it is 100pc true. So I was utterly upset to find out that she was still smoking. Eventually she ended up smoking secretly and lying to me that she successfully gave up.

Then I found a notebook among her college notes. Several pages were glued together but I tore them apart and found long conversations between herself and a classmate. They were obviously sitting at a boring lecture and writing to each other. She was boasting about her former sex partners starting from the first man who raped her when she was only 13 and down till the very end. It was 18 names in total. Literally, she had gotten laid with every single so-called friend of hers. She even didn't know some of her partners' real names because she didn't care. And she had sex with the last guy from the list when we were already dating.

It was a strange relationship: they didn't go out anywhere, she just went to his place in the evening, and they had sex.

I saw that when she'd realised that things were serious with our relationship, she'd changed her ways. But she still didn't remove those "friends" from her life.

To say that I was ruined and utterly upset isn't enough. I was ready to put a stop to our relationship. But she swore that she was terribly sorry, that she just didn't know what to tell me.

She said she realised those were her stupid mistakes. And finally she simply said she loved me more than anyone in her life. That was a long, hard and painful talk.

Believe it or not I still married her. She completely broke up with her past, threw away all her photographs, letters and everything that reminded her or me about her past life. She stopped all contact with those people. She tried hard to give up smoking. She proved to be a good and caring wife. We had two kids and I love them very much.

The only problem is I cannot accept her past. I cannot listen to stories about her school years. And when I find out that, let's say, she is smoking again, I have terrible feelings coming back.

I even cheated on her twice to retaliate. Those were just casual sexual contacts, not any romantic affairs. But I hated the feeling of guilt.

Now we're in our thirties, but my wife's past still haunts me, especially when she makes some minor wrong. I cannot forgive her after all these years. It's done and it's in the past, it's never to be changed.

So the question is - how do I put up with her past and peacefully live on? Leaving my family is not an option.

Mary replies:  A number of things struck me when reading your letter, which for reasons of space I have shortened, and well done on writing to me in what is not your mother tongue.

Let us look at things from your wife's point of view. Raped at 13 and subsequently with a string of sometimes nameless lovers, I sincerely hope she has had counselling with regard to the rape. I am not aware of what services are available in your country but if she has not had counselling, I strongly recommend that you encourage and support her to get help.

Resulting from her early trauma, she doesn't appear to have had any experience of having both sexual and emotional intimacy until she met you. As it so happened, you had only had emotional intimacy so you were coming from completely different backgrounds.

Nobody knows at the beginning of a relationship whether it is going to work out or not, and so people do not divulge all their past secrets right at the start. They wait until they see if they have a future together. So your wife didn't tell you the full story which you found out by looking through her papers. When confronted she told you what had happened and why, and that cannot have been easy for either of you. She then went on to try to make amends but you simply cannot let go of the fact that she didn't tell you everything right at the beginning.

I believe that you had no right to know at the beginning and her only wrong was that she maintained contact with these men when you were already together.

You found out that retaliation simply does not work. I hope your wife never finds out because it would cause even more strife and would lead her to question your loyalty.

You also would benefit from speaking with somebody, because you need help to stop blaming her for her past. It may help if you tell yourself that you were each other's first experience of both emotional and sexual intimacy. So together you created something new, which is to be celebrated, and far preferable to seeing your wife as somehow tarnished by her past. She is trying her best, and so should you.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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