Is Her Past a Problem Now?
Q: My husband has suddenly, after 23 years of being together and three kids, decided he can't deal with my past. I told him when we were first together that I had been with five guys before him, so that it wouldn't be an issue later. He is ready to leave me and wants me to give him all the details of the men I slept with to make him feel better. I'm scared, and I don't want to lose him, but I don't think talking about all the details will help either. I suggested a counselor, but he wants none of it. I'm scared for us. I love him so much and we have gone through so much together. I don't know how to cope. -- Katie, 45
Dr. Susan: It's very suspicious that your long-ago past is suddenly bothering your husband so much that he wants to leave you. Your gut feeling is correct that sharing such details would be excruciating for both of you. It would most certainly not help him feel better. The question is "Why now?" Is he interested in someone else and seeking an excuse to end the marriage? Has he had an affair and looking for some way to alleviate his guilt? Is he suffering from depression or an obsessive disorder that has him suddenly focusing on distant irrelevant events to the exclusion of his and your best interests?
I'm sorry he won't see a counselor with you to determine if there are alternatives to giving up. You might benefit from seeing a professional yourself as you go through this crazy time. There's something weirdly abnormal about his insisting you should have been a virgin, 23 years down the line. This is about him, not you, but you're the one who has to keep pushing to find out what's really going on.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.