Have you really forgiven your spouse for the past?

Jay Dee

Have you really forgiven your spouse for the past?

Aug 12, 2016

I received an anonymous question last night through our Have A Question page.  The questions is quite long, but bear with me: “Because of a disparity in our early sexual histories, I have an on-going problem, feeling that I married my wife after

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IAnonymous Question received an anonymous question last night through our Have A Question page.  The questions is quite long, but bear with me:

“Because of a disparity in our early sexual histories, I have an on-going problem, feeling that I married my wife after everyone else (except me) had had sex with her. In fact, whilst refusing to have sex with me, she got out of a bed we were sharing to sleep with another man. And I still married her, because I loved her. Now, after 35 years of marriage, its just a massive heart-ache that keeps coming back.

In fact, she had sex with quite a few guys. And hundreds of times. When I did eventually get to sleep with her, I was a virgin. Now, I feel cheated, that all the cool guys used my wife before I got her, and she only got interested in me when she found out that I loved her and wanted to marry her. I’m jealous. I want to be the one who took her virginity.

I know I went into this with my eyes open, but at the time I just wanted her and nothing else mattered. Now, it matters deeply.

It gets worse.

She says she is truly sorry, that she was a teenager who’d never been taught about the value or importance of sex, and she wishes she’d waited. She says she loves me, and that her body is mine now and always will be. (We take I Cor.. 7:4 seriously – “”The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.””)

That’s where this gets nasty. I have a strong desire for her to prove her body is mine now. I feel it would compensate for the past that keeps hurting me.

It was an issue I was coping with for many years. We loved each other and were happy. But some time ago, we traveled overseas, and at a very famous landmark I wanted her to flash her boobs for my camera. We could have done it quickly and nobody would have seen much, if anything. And we’ll never see those people again anyway. She refused. Which said to me that her body isn’t mine, any more than it was back when she was refusing me sex but sleeping with other guys.

That’s when all this came flooding back to me, and its been a big issue to me ever since. I need her to back up her claim that her body is mine by doing something that confirms it. I have an idea that I’d like her to do – but it involves sexual immorality. I know, as a believer, I can’t go there, but I SOOO want to, and don’t feel that this thorn will ever be dealt with until this is resolved.

Please, if you just want to abuse me for how wrong I am, spare me. I already know that, but I still NEED her to show that I am truly the one she gave the most to.

Please preserve my anonymity, as I’ve put a lot on the line here.

So, firstly, I know absolutely nothing more than what’s given in the question.  I don’t know who this person is, or even what country they are in.  If you ever need something removed from a question to feel safer, just let me know.  Now, let’s move on to answering.

This is how I read the history:

  1. His wife had multiple partners before him, he was a virgin before her
  2. He said he accepted that, and just wanted to be with her
  3. Years later he now feels she needs to prove her submission to him
  4. She refuses to give him the proof he feels he needs
  5. He now feels she needs to prove her submission even more

And he doesn’t want me to hold him accountable for asking for things he knows is wrong…

We don’t always know what we’re agreeing to

How many of us know what we were signing up for when we got married?  I mean, I know, we have these “for better or worse, till death we do part” vows, but do people really think about them?  Do you realize what you’re vowing when you get married?

You’re promising that NO MATTER WHAT, you will CHOOSE to love your spouse.  Do you understand how insane that sounds to the rest of the world?  It’s no wonder that it’s taken as a tradition, rather than an actual vow.

So, this husband, agreed, to love his wife, no matter how many men she’s slept with, or how many times.  He said it wasn’t a problem, that he was going to love her regardless.  Now, years later, he feels differently.

Control your emotions, don’t let them control you

The problem is, we have this idea in our society that love is a force.  That it’s an emotion we need to follow.  People do a lot of things because they “feel” they need to.  The Bible has a different take on it.  According to the Bible, love is a choice.  We choose to love.  In fact, Jesus commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves.  How is that possible if it’s not a choice?

So, in light of this, we can see where this husband went wrong.  When he started feeling insecure, that she didn’t love him, the response should have been to choose to love her.  To continue to forgive her, like his wedding vows implied.  Instead, he decided to act on his feelings of insecurity.  He asked her to do something immoral to prove she submitted to him: To flash him in public where he knew others would see.  This is how strong the insecurity is.  He wants his wife to show that she’s more submissive to him than to God.  He wants to be God to her.

I’m sure that specific thought didn’t enter his mind, but that’s really what he’s asking.

Good for her for refusing.

But, it doesn’t stop there, now he wants to push even harder, for something even more immoral.  Again: prove that I’m more important than God.  Insecurity can make us do some crazy things.

Sorry, I can’t let that go uncontested.  It’s wrong, and he knows it.

Learn to forgive

Seeking Forgiveness - A 13 Day Devotional - CoverThis is what I’d say to this husband:

I think you need to finally forgive your wife for her past.  She’s said she’s sorry, she seems remorseful, by your own statements, but you never seem to have forgiven her.  You “coped” with it for years, but never let it go.  Instead, you’ve been harbouring these feelings of betrayal and insecurity for years, and now it’s come to a head.

You need to decide.  Do you love her, or do you love your feelings of insecurity and betrayal?  Are you willing to submit to God, or you do you want to continue to try and be God?  Your wife isn’t the issue here.

P.S. For those that have a colourful history and are having trouble feeling forgiven, either by your spouse, or by God, then I suggest checking out my devotional on forgiveness.

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16 thoughts on “Have you really forgiven your spouse for the past?”

  1. Sarah says:

    A seriously awesome response to this question (that honestly creeped me out a lot). Eve submits herself to Adam, as long as HE submits himSELF to GOD!
    If anything, I think she proved that she was his alone, that she had changed, by NOT flashing him in a public place where others could see. If she had, she’d have allowed others to see her naked body… Therefore making it so it isn’t her husband’s alone to see.
    I think it may be time for him to enlist the help of a marriage counselor and/or religious leader. The problem is NOT with his wife and her past. and if he keeps up this sort of damaging behavior with the immoral pressures he’s putting on his wife, he is going to destroy a long marriage with what appears to be a changed and God loving woman.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Eve submits herself to Adam, as long as HE submits himSELF to GOD!

      I disagree with this phrase strongly. Perhaps it’s just how it’s worded. No man will ever submit himself fully to God, because no man is perfect (excepting Jesus of course). That does not mean no women ever has to submit to their husband. Rather, she should submit to her husband in everything excepting those that violate God’s will, just as we should submit ourselves to governments, except in those laws that violate God’s will.

      1. Sarah says:

        Yes I see what you’re saying. And I agree with your statement. That is exactly what I feel and think about the submitting to God/husband statement. I just didn’t delve farther into it, because I felt that would be obvious. But you’re right, there are plenty of men and women who may twist this statement to try to get or do what he/she wants. Thanks for expounding.:) and thanks again for your spot on response to this question!??

        1. Jay Dee says:

          You’re quite welcome!

  2. Tracy says:

    I really appreciate this post. The thing that is harming our marriage the most is my refusal to let go of my feelings of insecurity and betrayal over his infidelity. “Do you love her, or do you love your feelings of insecurity and betrayal?” That line is really what it boils down to for me, but I have never heard it put so succinctly before. I haven’t asked for immoral proof of his remorse and devotion, but I’ve continued to punish him by withholding love and affection while waiting for him to “prove” that he loves me. I’ve held onto my insecurity and pain to protect me from being hurt again. But it’s done nothing but cause me more pain. I need to truly forgive and let go to appreciate and nurture what we have.

    As always, thank you for your blog and podcasts. It’s difficult to find resources that support staying together and working through issues and sex in a Christian way. We are grateful for your willingness to share your own difficulties and struggles.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m glad it was helpful! And thank you for the kind words. I appreciate them!

  3. Mike says:

    I understand the feelings about past indiscretions. My wife had lots of boyfriends before me. As far as I know, she never had sex with any one of them. I have never asked her. I really don’t want to know. I think if I knew, it would bother me, so I never ask. However, I would never ask her to do anything immoral to prove herself to me. She has proved her love and faithfulness to me for our whole marriage. She has kept her vows, and I have kept mine.

  4. heyimmultifaceted says:

    Way to speak directly to the issue. he wants her to submit to him over and above God. Spot-on response.

    1. Anonymous says:

      In what way does he want her to submit to him over and above God? Did he make her submit to him? Did God tell her never to flash her husband even when no-one else will see?

  5. MaBeck says:

    There’s a book by John Bevere on forgiveness called “the Bait of satan“, it may help this husband. I do think you hit the issue “spot on”, and I’m SO glad this wife did not submit to the sexual abuse and humiliation that her husband wanted her to. It’s sad how our pain can drive us to do such ungodly things to our spouses. The verse that the Lord led me to quote when I feel like bringing up my hubby’s past sins is “Woman, where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” It helps me to see MY sin of accusation, judgement and condemnation in my own thoughts, so I can repent. In my experience, anything that drives us to protect ourselves (out of pain) at the other spouses’ expense is sin.

  6. libl says:

    I don’t know much about my husband’s past, except that he had lots of girlfriends, partied, looked at porn casually, casually did drugs, and had busted strip clubs with the guys a couple of times. But, it NEVER occurred to me that he had to be sorry to ME and I had to forgive him for it. None of it had anything to do with me! It happened before he even knew I existed. I don’t understand why he has to be sorry to ME about it. Should I apologise for kissing a boy before I met my husband?

    Now stuff that happens after wedding vows, yes, I can see how repentance and forgiveness is needed.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well, I am the original writer, and I think you got it quite wrong. I will try to restate … and if you reread my original post you will see that this is what I did try to say … (though perhaps in the wrong order).

    We were happy for many years. We went on holidays. I wanted a photo of her flashing me. Not to punish her. Not to dominate her. Not to display her to anyone. Not because of anything in the past. Probably because we were on holidays and I was feeling frisky and I think it would have made that night memorable. It would only take seconds. We could have done it without anyone seeing. She said “no”. I didn’t insist. I didn’t react at the time, but I was disappointed.

    But over time, I began to be unhappy that she was saying no to me, for something she could have done. And the thoughts came about when she used to say “no” to me back at (or before) the start of our relationship. That’s when I started to think she could, and perhaps should, say “yes” to me about doing something that would make me feel that she did love me. I became very sensitive about her saying “no” to me. Memories that had laid dormant (forgotten?) for 30+ years started causing emotional pain with increasing frequency.

    And in time my mind came up with an idea for something, a fantasy, which, if she did, would satisfy me for the rest of my life that the past is long gone and she does truly love me, because it would demonstrate that she considered that I had authority over her body (I Cor. 7:4) – which is the opposite to what her saying “no” to flashing me had said.

    However, as I said above, it involves sexual immorality, so I AM NOT GOING TO ACT ON THAT! My wife won’t be forced, required, pushed or even asked to do that. And she won’t be pushed to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

    Look, let’s say I again ask her to flash for my camera. I don’t force her (that would make the exercise pointless). She’s shy, she’s nervous, it’s not something she would have thought of doing or would volunteer to do, but on the other hand, she can do it with no-one else seeing or being aware of it. So, she does it. It only takes a second. No-one sees anything. And I know she did it because she wanted to make me happy because she loves me. And I think that she doesn’t knock me back whenever she feels like it, and her saying “no” to me way back when is not an issue in our lives anymore.

    I do not want to dominate my wife. I do not want to punish my wife. I would just have liked her to say “yes” to me that time. If she had, I would have known she was putting me before herself, and that would have reassured me that the past does not reach into the present.

    Perhaps the cold hard fact is that I should never have married her, in spite of the many good years we have had. Perhaps I should have found a girl who had waited to give herself to her husband.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks for clarifying!

      Perhaps the cold hard fact is that I should never have married her, in spite of the many good years we have had. Perhaps I should have found a girl who had waited to give herself to her husband.

      I think this is a fruitless thought that, if entertained, will only lead to your unhappiness. Rather than fantasize about “what might have been”, I’d suggest working on your current relationship. Women generally don’t just “say no” for no reason. Something is causing her to put the brakes on. It may be relational, contextual, body image, theology, mind state, or a billion other things, but something is holding her back. I’d focus my energies there instead.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I really feel that you grossly misread what I said … which has made me feel rather sick.

    Jay Dee: “To flash him in public where he knew others would see.

    No, I said “nobody would have seen much, if anything.” I would point out that you have recommended your readers not only to flash but to have sex outside, and in a vehicle – that’s much more likely to be observed.

    Jay Dee: “This is how strong the insecurity is.  He wants his wife to show that she’s more submissive to him than to God.  He wants to be God to her. ”

    No, I didn’t make her submit to me, and being God doesn’t come into the picture. I just asked her to flash me quickly. And this wasn’t to hurt her, dominate her, make her submit … this only became a problem some time after she said “no” to flashing me, as I said: “That’s when all this came flooding back to me, and its been a big issue to me ever since.”

    Jay Dee: “But, it doesn’t stop there, now he wants to push even harder, for something even more immoral.  Again: prove that I’m more important than God.  Insecurity can make us do some crazy things.
    Sorry, I can’t let that go uncontested.  It’s wrong, and he knows it.”

    Yep, that’s why I said: “I have an idea that I’d like her to do – but it involves sexual immorality. I know, as a believer, I can’t go there!”

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m sorry I misunderstood. Like I said, thanks for clarifying. It’s helpful when the questioner comes back to add their comments. Unfortunately, that’s the problem with anonymous questions, I have to go with what I have at the time, and sometimes that means I might misread a situation. That’s why I ask for contact information, if possible right on the question page.

      Just be sure to include any information you think I might need about your question as I will not be able to contact you for clarification, to discuss, or to inform you of a posted topic.

      I’m glad I was mistaken about your intentions and that you came back to set the record straight. I appreciate it.

  9. Greenbean950 says:

    The wife seems to have genuinely asked for forgiveness and been honest with him. She refused to share her body by exposing herself in front of others. She seems to be able to be intimate emotionally and physically with her husband – something that many women who were promiscuous cannot do. That’s is a person who has given herself to her husband. As difficult as the past may be, she has earned his loyalty.

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