My fun, happy, fairy-tale marriage of 2 months is imploding because my husband suddenly can't accept my past. Super-long explanation inside.
posted by anonymous to human relations (70 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Basically, from the ages of 18 to 23, I had a serious problem with alcohol, cocaine, and sex addiction. I was the weird smart zitty smelly kid in my early adolescence, and even though I discovered deodorant around age 13 and photographic evidence shows that I was perfectly acceptable-looking throughout highschool, I attended 5th-12th grades with the same small group of kids and the label never wore off. I had absolutely zero friends (except for the mentally challenged kids in the special needs class where I volunteered as an aide every afternoon from grades 10-12) and, of course, nothing but negative attention from boys, so when I got to college and realized that boys who hadn't watched me grow up might find me attractive, I went a little crazy. The drugs and alcohol helped me talk to them and the sex helped me feel accepted and everything sort of fed off of everything else. I took the substance and sex addiction with me when I dropped out of college and moved to Chicago and by the time I reached 23 I was throwing up blood on a daily basis and I'd racked up about 200 sexual partners. Luckily, I got evicted and, faced with the choice of homelessness and moving back in with my parents, I went with the latter. Well, actually, they dragged me home against my will, but I saw sense pretty quickly (fortunately, by this time they'd moved to a different town than the shitty one I grew up in). I stopped the drugs, stopped drinking (though for the last three years I've had a perfectly healthy relationship with alcohol, 3-4 drinks a week at the most) and I was celibate for almost two years. I had normal, healthy sexual relationships with three casual boyfriends in the two years before I met my husband (and I have, of course, been perfectly and happily faithful to him since the moment our relationship started).
I was honest with him about my past from the beginning and he was always completely and totally cool with it - not in an icky feminist-guy I-am-so-supportive-way, (even though he is a feminist guy), but in a completely non-judgmental no-big-deal way. It's hard to put that difference into words, but maybe that's clear enough. Anyway, as I said, he's suddenly not cool with it anymore. My first clue was that he told a mutual friend about it. The friend (who we'll call C) was hanging out at our house and the three of us were gathered around the laptop, trying to gross each other out with stuff from the internet (yeah, we're weird). I found a picture of a warty, cauliflower-looking vagina and C sniggered and said 'is that what yours looks like?" I know that sounds incredibly harsh, but we all tease each other really hard and I probably would have said the same thing to him had it been a picture of a warty penis (even though I'm pretty sure his partner count is in the single digits). I didn't think anything of it until I saw my husband give him the "dude, shutUP" look.
This led to a huge blowout after C left. His excuse for telling C about my sexual past is my claim that I'm not ashamed of it so why is it a big deal? And I was furious because I had this idea of our marriage as being this united-front, us-against-the-world, defending-each-other-no-matter-what partnership and the idea of him talking about me behind my back (ESPECIALLY talking about something like my sexual past) has devastated me. I've tried to work through it and forgive and forget, and he promises never to say anything about it to anyone again and C has promised not to talk about it, either, but I am still resentful. And that's making my husband resentful and it's making him weird around our friends (they're mostly male, and if we're out and he notices me laughing with someone, or having an intense conversation, he's suddenly at my side saying "hey what's going on?" when before the most he would have done would have been to catch my eye and smile) and it's destroying our sex life. Before it was intense and rough and joyful (sounds dorky, but I can't think of another word for it) and crazy and there wasn't anything that we wanted to do to or with each other that made either of us feel weird or uncomfortable, and suddenly anything that isn't totally power-neutral seems off-limits with him, if I try to pin his arms over his head while I'm on top or encourage him to pull my hair a little like he used to, he just kind of loses interest in the whole thing. He says he doesn't think it's healthy that I'm trying to work through my "issues with sex" by being rough in bed, which is bullshit. My "issues" were with feeling like an outsider and looking for acceptance. Aside from sheer quantity, there was nothing unusual or abusive about the sex I had, and there is no abuse of any kind in my childhood. I LOVED our sex life, and we've done so many insane, awesome things that I never did-never CONSIDERED doing-with any of the people I slept with before. But he doesn't believe me. And he suddenly doesn't seem to believe that I am capable of loving him as much as I say I do or that I can happily be faithful to him after 'my past'. He's also convinced that I'm lying about the fact that I made it through 200 sexual partners without contracting any STD's other than HPV. It's not hard to explain, I've always been a little germ-phobic, and I picked up the brown paper bags of condoms at the health department clinic on a pretty regular basis and always kept one or two in my wallet. I wasn't perfect, but I used a condom almost all the time. But he still doesn't believe me and he says if I'll lie about that, I might lie about other things.
I don't know what to do. My fairy tale is falling apart. I know lots of people will mention therapy, and while I would be happy to give it a try (it helped me kick my addictions before, I don't see why it wouldn't help us through this), I know my husband won't go. I've asked him. He says it will work itself out in time and that we're just going through a rough patch and I'm blowing it out of proportion.