Can this marriage be saved?
March 30, 2007 8:31 AM   Subscribe

My fun, happy, fairy-tale marriage of 2 months is imploding because my husband suddenly can't accept my past. Super-long explanation inside.

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.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (70 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

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

Which is bullshit, of course. This is certainly his issue, and he's gotta own up to it. I wonder, though, was he always "cool" with your past, or just in denial?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:44 AM on March 30, 2007

That's quite a story.

You don't way how long you two knew each other before marriage.

Something clearly needs to change in how you two are interacting, since it seems to be making you both unhappy. I'd ask your husband how he sees that change coming about. Be honest about being unhappy with the way things are, and ask him what you two should do together to get back to where you were. Certainly elicit descriptions of his own dissatisfaction, and offer change yourself. You can make it perfectly clear that the status quo is unacceptable. If he can't answer the question then keep asking it and offering your own solutions. Therapy can be one of those solutions if you think it will help.
posted by OmieWise at 8:46 AM on March 30, 2007

The only question I can see in here is your title, "Can this marriage be saved?" I would argue that almost any marriage can be saved, as long as the participants are willing to honestly share their feelings with each other. That means not only telling each other how you're feeling about the relationship, but also genuinely listening to your partners concerns.

It sounds like your husband isn't understanding the depth of your concern about this issue. Whether you're not explaining well or he's not listening well, you've got a disconnect about the importance of your current disagreement. So maybe the issue to address with him isn't "what's up with your attitude about all this stuff in my past," but rather, "I have a serious concern and I feel like you're blowing it off. Can you either help relieve my concern or else join me in being concerned?" Focus on why the communication isn't working, before trying to figure out why the sex isn't working.

Of course, IANAMP (married person), so I suppose you'll have to take my advice with a grain of salt. Best of luck to you!
posted by vytae at 8:47 AM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's interesting you refer to you marriage as a fairy tale. It suggests you may think it's too good to be true and after all the crap you've been through are scared of and expect it to fail. That's a lot of pressure you are putting on yourself.

Relax. Take a breath. If your marriage is going to crack over something like this in the first two months it could never have been that serious to begin with. Guys sometimes tell friends things, because everyone needs an outlet, and your story especially I would probably want a friend's take on, but he married you. As long as it's not his habit, understand there are exceptions to every rule.

If it were me, I would stop talking with my husband about how I was a crack whore for a while. Give him a rest, and try not speaking about it. If he doesn't want to go to counseling, you go to counseling. That way you can talk about it with your therapist. I'm not saying you need to pretend it never happened, but I am pretty sure any husband would not want to be constantly reminded that their wife used to be a crack whore. You might even consider downplaying this story in the future by saying something like "I used to have a lot of sexual partners and did some drugs".

Finally, marriage is no fairy tale, and if you expect it to be your marriage will have no chance of surviving. There are days when he is going to be angry, when you will be angry, there will be fights, there will be boring periods, and there will also be great times. You love each other, but neither of you can be perfect.

Just let him know that you love him and give him some time. Try and relax a bit. If things don't change back after a while (I mean a while, not days or weeks) then bring up therapy again.
posted by xammerboy at 8:56 AM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

he says if I'll lie about that, I might lie about other things.

The fact that he is not just thinking this anymore but saying this out loud tells you everything you need to know about where you're at. Until this barrier is overcome, virtually anything you can think of to do or say is going to be a waste.
posted by hermitosis at 8:58 AM on March 30, 2007

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.

This makes it sound to me like he was cool with it until he discovered that you are, in fact, not cool with it, despite what you might be saying. So now he doesn't know how to relate to it anymore. He was fine being cool with your past when you were, but if you're all self-conscious about it, how's he now supposed to react?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:58 AM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

A couple things come to mind immediately:

- I always worry when people describe marriages with words like "dream," "fantasy," or "fairy tale," because it often means they are (deliberately or not) suppressing or denying the tough issues of living day-to-day with another person. Fact is, the period when the "honeymoon is over" can often be weird and emotionally rough for folks - and it seems too early to be so seriously questioning whether things "can be saved" or not;
- No matter how hard one tries to be cool, alternative, feminist, or open-minded, sometimes just the new socially-codified labels of "husband" and "wife" that you've applied publicly to yourselves by entering into the institution of marriage change everything (in your two minds as well as those of family or friends). It may honestly have been no big deal for you to have this intense sexual history when you were "girlfriend," but now that you are "wife," just that change of status makes things different - he might not consciously understand it himself;
- you don't mention his sexual history, I don't think - but if he's also a single-digit-partners person it could just be sinking in for him now how big the differences in your experience are. A big differential between sexual pasts can be weird, even when it doesn't seem like it should be, and the denial might have been easier before he had made a lifetime commitment to you;
- your husband may need to have friends (like C) to vent to or blow off relationship stress with, most people have this, but usually such people aren't also socializing so informally and frankly with the partner being complained about. I find that aspect sort of weird and wonder if maybe C knows too much about your past now to be cool around you;
- I know you say your husband has said no to therapy, but he somehow needs to work through his issues about your past issues, or even the whole concept of being married to someone with past issues, if he wants to be happy with you. Something a little more thoughtful than complaining to buddies who are like "Wow man that's fucked up, lemme buy you another beer." Somehow he needs to understand that therapy is a potentially useful tool, not a sign of weakness (though the fact that your having been in therapy when you were so down and out is likely to reinforce his prejudice that it's only for fucked-up people). It would be good somehow to break that association - maybe if you know someone who was helped with therapy but who wasn't desperate or at the end of their rope, to use as an example? Also, maybe a (good) therapist could help you help him, even if he won't go?

Good luck!
posted by aught at 9:02 AM on March 30, 2007

Ahh, I get it. YOU started this fight, and you're making him feel insecure by being insecure about something where a man is so vulnerable.

Talk to him and tell him that you promise him 100% you'll always be faithful to him, and that you will NEVER EVER be with anyone else. Tell him that the past is the past, and it is not ever going to repeat itself.

Try him real nice that night - cook him dinner, rub his back with massage oil, and show him that he's the only one for you.

If that does not work, I'll send you $10. It'll work. He just needs to be reassured, and instead of doing that, you're reacting off his own reaction, and creating a cycle that will lead to implosion. You break the cycle without requesting anything back from him (i.e, no you do this, I do this), and everything will be fine.
posted by markovich at 9:03 AM on March 30, 2007 [3 favorites]

My guess is that, before you were married, he thought of your past as yours and found it titillating to hear about. Now that he is your husband, your past belongs to your marriage, too. And he can't handle it being that close to him. If he refuses to go to couples counseling with you, I feel this marriage should not be saved.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:05 AM on March 30, 2007

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).

Here's a thought: cut this stuff out. Right now. If you and your friends sit around insulting each other, OF COURSE somebody is going to hit a raw nerve someday. His joke was in extremely poor taste, but you can't really blame him, if that's how your friendships were set up. Have a talk with C and anybody else, say you're not comfortable with this sort of stuff anymore, and then stop.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:09 AM on March 30, 2007 [5 favorites]

You've been married for two months, you've just had your (first?) really big fight, where you accused him of betraying your confidence. You're still resentful, and presumably so is he. The reality of marriage is just setting in, and suddenly he's full of doubts.

Not to detract from the fact that he's being a dick. I'm just pointing out that his being a dick is not entirely due to his attitude to your past, but also because of the situation. He's picked on this to hang his doubts about your marriage on.

I'd guess he was never as comfortable with your past as he pretended, hence his talking to a male friend about it. But I'm also guessing that is as much about his general doubts and fears, exacerbated by the fight and end of the honeymoon period, as it is about your past specifically.

I would focus on reassuring him in general about the relationship, and forgiving him for breaking your confidence, rather than tackling his attitude to your past, at least initially.

Good luck
posted by Touchstone at 9:13 AM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Like any relationship filter, I can only speak from my point of view and that's bound to be skewed. Apologies in advance.

Honestly, i actually sorta agree with him-- its a rough patch, and you'll get through it... as long as you keep the lines of communication open and you guys don't keep stupid things from each other. He's gotta stop clamming up and being a jerk about it, your past is your past and it made you the person he loved right? So he should accept it, and try not to think about it.

It's obviously a sensitive issue for him, so I guess he'll need a lot of reassurance but I think he'll figure it out and get back on board, especially since he knew about it all before anyways.

There's nothing wrong with your sex life as you described it, and in fact I'm a little jealous. I think the 'work your issues out' argument was dumb and he's just being grumpy about it for the time being. A fun and adventerous sex life is something to be treasured, damnit!

So yes, your marriage can easily be saved. Just put a lot of effort in and keep the lines of communication open. and avoid resenting each other! LISTEN to each other, don't just talk AT each other. That goes double for him.

... ps i've never been married or had a relationship longer than a year.
posted by ZackTM at 9:16 AM on March 30, 2007

You DO have issues about your sexual history. As does he.

If you haven't already, you should go get a complete STD workup. Everything. Just because. And show him the results.

But after that, the interpersonal issues are more important than the medical ones. While both men and women should be free to have many sexual partners throughout their lives, it is nevertheless not a turn-on for men to *think* about their partner's history. "I'm putting my .... where so many ... have gone before..." This is not a turn-on. Period. It just isn't. Say what you will about how things should be, thinking about that isn't a turn-on. It's like thinking about having sex with his grandmother - an instant erection killer. Every man wants to believe that he is the one, there is no other who could satisfy you as well as he can... and then he starts thinking about the other 200 guys, and he starts to have doubts about whether that is actually true...

He's squirming now because one part of his brain wants to be completely accepting of you, and another part of his brain does not. You need to help the one part win.

Talk to him. Use words like "fairy-tale marriage". Tell him how great he is and how much you love him.

Do not talk about your past. You've told him, he's heard it - the duty of communication has been fulfilled. Now it's time to let sleeping dogs lie. Don't make him think about "200 partners" and "throwing up blood" and "wild cocaine orgies with dogs and horses". Any time you make him think about that, I can pretty well guarantee you that you'll have a few days where that second part of his brain wakes up and the first part has to beat it down again.
posted by jellicle at 9:31 AM on March 30, 2007

Take this: "Ahh, I get it. YOU started this fight, and you're making him feel insecure by being insecure about something where a man is so vulnerable."

With a side of "You've been married for two months, you've just had your (first?) really big fight, where you accused him of betraying your confidence."

And a heaping side of "This makes it sound to me like he was cool with it until he discovered that you are, in fact, not cool with it, despite what you might be saying." this.

It's totally understandable to not really be OK with your past and with having it be bandied about casually -- but YOU are the one that needs to resolve this, not your husband. This is not something he needs to get over. He's lost and confused right now because one of the pillars that he built his image of your personality got jerked out from beneath him. It's up to you to restore him to stability.

(And that, btw, is what a marriage does. Like everyone else has said, there's no such thing as a fairy-tale marriage.)
posted by SpecialK at 9:35 AM on March 30, 2007

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.

How bizarre. Can't you get some kind of proof of being disease free? Or does he think you got the clap and got cured?

Anyway, this guy sounds like a grade-A wanker. Telling everyone about your business, and then freaking out about stuff he already knew about.

It's hard to say whether the marriage can be saved without knowing your husband. I mean you can probably stay married, but are things ever going to go back to how they were? Who knows?

If you do get married again, try to get to know the guy longer. What kind of moron would act like everything was cool and then flip out after the wedding. Bleh.
posted by delmoi at 9:38 AM on March 30, 2007

My reactions to this story are kind of scattered.

1. "my claim that I'm not ashamed of it so why is it a big deal?" Your husband fucked up here. There's a difference between "not being ashamed" and "wanting to advertise it to the whole world." Everyone who has been in a LTR has learned facts about our partners' pasts that they might want to keep in the past. The rule is to let that partner always take the lead on discussing these things with company. You are justified in getting upset.

2. "This led to a huge blowout after C left." Okay, maybe not that upset. This says to me that A) there are other issues at work and this was the straw that broke the camel's back, B) maybe you guys need to work on talking about emotional issues without getting overheated, or C) some combination of A and B.

3. "But he doesn't believe me." Ouch. I think that's the worst part of the whole story, and possibly the crux of the problems. You and he need to have a serious chat about this. If the two of you can't trust each other, it's over. He's violated your trust, and somehow he feels he can't trust you. I'm not sure what the two of you can do to regain each others' trust, but you have to do it.

4. "He says it will work itself out in time and that we're just going through a rough patch" That may be. But don't let him use it as a blanket excuse not to talk about these hard issues. I'm not saying you need a therapist to help you guys talk to each other, but you do need to talk to each other.

Keep talking, and keep him talking. Make sure he knows how serious this is to you if he doesn't already. With any luck, things will start to re-solidify for you two. Perhaps after a few weeks, you could schedule a weekend trip where you've got nothing better to do than enjoy each others' company. That might help push the reset button.
posted by adamrice at 9:44 AM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

1. Why does he think he can't trust you? You didn't promise him you wouldn't sleep with other people before you met him.

2. I don't think you can trust him, and you should say this. "You talked about me behind my back, and now I think you suck. You better figure out how to earn my trust back."

3. He has a warped view of you. Maybe his confusion is coming from insecurity, but who knows? It sounds like he's deliberately trying to ruin the marriage. Ask him about it. "Are you?" "Does our future look like our past, which was my ideal relationship? If not, what does it look like?"

4. I think he should be punished for all of this bad behavior, and you can tell him I told you so. This punishment should involve him taking you somewhere nice on a vacation and treating you like a princess.

Having a wife is a privilege. I don't get why people don't get this.
posted by ewkpates at 9:51 AM on March 30, 2007 [4 favorites]

It seems to me that he's still a little squicked out by your past, and he knows it's his own problem. He probably figures that he should be over it by now, but yet he still has weird feelings about it and isn't sure what to do with them. I think this confusion explains why he's been acting out, but also why he insists that this is a rough patch you guys will get through. Like markovich said, he probably needs a little extra sincere reassurance, affection, and attention from you right now to get back to normal and realize how insecure he was being. Hopefully setting a precedent of being sensitive to each other will ensure that with a little more time he won't flare up about this at all anymore.
posted by infinityjinx at 9:54 AM on March 30, 2007

This is a pretty good summary of what I was going to say.

Unless there's some other "lie", it seems to me that the "if you lied about this...etc" is about him thinking you aren't as over your past as he thought you were. The change in his attitude about the "rough" sex seems to mesh with him thinking that you aren't over it.

Try to talk about the current problems between you two. It might be an argument about the past, but the emotions/doubts that are fueling the fire are current ones.

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.

I hope you're not doing this when you're trying to resolve the spat. Calling his thoughts bullshit isn't going to help. You might think they're bullshit - and they might be - but they're the angle that he's coming from. Dismissing them isn't the way to go about it.
posted by CKmtl at 9:56 AM on March 30, 2007

Saucy Intruder,

I used the word "crack whore" to suggest how unpleasant it might be for the husband to have to discuss in depth his feelings about his wife's past on a regular basis. Probably not the best strategy on my part.

However, if I were dating someone and they said they had had plenty of sexual partners before me I would hardly be surprised or care. If they wanted to talk to me in depth about it on a regular basis I would probably not be okay with that. That kind of discussion, regularly, can be very taxing in and of itself.

That's why I suggest cooling off on discussing this a bit, and not going to a therapist to talk about this every week.

Anyway, I didn't mean any offense, I meant to highlight how distressing it could be to the husband to go over and over the past.

Also, I think there's something to the idea that your husband was cool with this while he thought you were cool with it. Let him know it was spilling the secret that was the issue, not your past, and make your peace with that.

On preview, jellicle's erection killer comment pretty much says it all. Try a backrub and makeup and then just let it lie for a bit, act like you forgot about it. Your email reads like hysteria, like you are absolutely freaked out you are going to lose him, and this is adding unnecessary pressure to the situation. Get yourself a backrub too. It's very unlikely this situation will be a marriage killer.
posted by xammerboy at 10:07 AM on March 30, 2007

Anon, I believe that you have every right to feel let down and betrayed. He had no right to share your story with his friend.

Aside from that, I find that people often say that they are cool with difficult truths and may truly believe that at the time (how uncool is it to admit otherwise?), but it can often eat them up inside and then comes the meltdown. It sounds to me like this is the stage you are now facing.

I think the hard truth is that he will either be able to come to terms with your past or he will not. I imagine that while he struggles with not accepting your past, you will see that manifested in all manner of unpleasant ways (like his questions about your love and fidelity). This process is up to him and I imagine this process will be quite punishing for you. Unfortunately, your choice may end up being between how much you love him and how much you can withstand.

One other thing I will share is my rules about what info SO's have a right to. I warn you that this flies in the face of our pop-psych, purge-all contemporary outlook on this matter. I believe a new SO has a right to the following three pieces of info about your past: 1. If you were married, 2. If you have children, and 3. If you have an STD.

The reason I think this is because no one can ever know the person you used to be. A new person can never truly know the circumstances of that time because they were not there. I have seen so many relationships dissolve because of struggles over issues from the past (usually insecurities over sexual histories) and what can be done now about someone's past? Take care, anon, I wish you the best.
posted by melangell at 10:16 AM on March 30, 2007 [4 favorites]

One thing that stuck out to me was

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.

Now take a look at this:

I was honest with him about my past from the beginning and he was always completely and totally cool with it...

I don't think it's possible to just be completely and totally cool with your partner's past intense sexual unhealthiness and drug use. Your husband\boyfriend is trying to be supportive by acting cool with it, but he isn't. That doesn't mean he doesn't love your or want to spend the rest of his life with you. What it does mean is that he needs to talk about. That brings me back to the first thing. When dealing with this, and thinking about you as a partner, he is going to need to talk to people about what he's dealing with. Some of those people should be you, but some of them will not be. You are going to have to deal with the idea that he will talk to some of his friends about your past, so that he can process it.
posted by !Jim at 10:17 AM on March 30, 2007 [4 favorites]

He probably knows he shouldn't have told his friend about your past. He also was probably completely freaking horrified that the friend brought it up, since he probably confessed over a couple of beers. Hence the defensiveness and the totally bullshit and desparate "thought you were okay with it" line.

My guess is that, before you were married, he thought of your past as yours and found it titillating to hear about. Now that he is your husband, your past belongs to your marriage, too. And he can't handle it being that close to him.

This was my first thought, too. Heck, my SO and I don't have the same kind of sex we did when we first started going out, and I attribute it similarily -- I'm not the girl that he takes home from the bar anymore, I'm the person he loves the most-est.

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.

This is the really problematic part. My snark answer to him would be, "well, I guess I would know better than you, since I have a greater basis for comparison." But instead, perhaps you two could come up with an agreement that you'll not refer to the wild oats you sowed if he doesn't pull this passive-agressive "I can't believe you really love me/want me thing. The thing about you not having contracted any STDs is just him being hurtful to put you on the defensive. But no, I don't actually think that this is a marriage killer.
posted by desuetude at 10:25 AM on March 30, 2007

You sound like a spectacularly good catch to me, anonymous, and I bet your husband knows that deep down, is not totally serene about matching up to you, and that his friends are a little envious, and that marrying you has threatened the positions of those above him in the hierarchy, who are choosing to try to maintain the status quo ante by attempting to make you seem less than you deserve to be in his eyes.

I would also guess that, as a specific manifestation of all this, some particular event has suddenly made him worry that his penis is not large enough, or his performance is not virile enough to satisfy someone who is in a positon to know exactly how he measures up to other men. This is a very common (I'm tempted to say nearly universal) insecurity. It could be something which happened between the two of you that you didn't even notice, or something his friends teased him about. If this is the case, I think it's essential to get it out into the open and do your best to reassure him.

Once sex is back to anywhere near the level the two of you have already achieved, you can work on helping him have more healthy relationships with friends at your leisure, whether or not they are the friends he has now.

I think you will succeed. He has everything to gain by cleaving to you, and you appear to be very capable.
posted by jamjam at 10:29 AM on March 30, 2007

My ex-girlfriend pretty much went through the same experiences as you concerning sex and drugs. And yes, I tried to be accepting of it, but damn it was really hard. In my own times of emotional weakness, I couldn't help but to think of her as a 'crack whore' sometimes. The best thing she did for this was to tell me, and show me how much she loved me. The best thing she SHOULD have done was never tell me that she slept with 175 people and that she used to be a stripper in San Francisco. Any man who cannot be affected by that is a better man than me.
posted by kaizen at 10:40 AM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

My fun, happy, fairy-tale marriage of 2 months

You don't really have to read more than those words to realize the problem here. You've ascribed an unsustainable ideal to your marriage that no one can live up to for any realistic period of time. Two months sounds just about right. Now that you realize your "fairy tale" isn't exactly "happily ever after", instead of understanding that you're actually going to have to work to keep this relationship, you begin to resent the source of any break in your fantasy, i.e. the very real voicings of your husband's emotions, and therefore your husband himself.

And then, instead of looking for an opportunity to grow closer to your husband and strengthen your marriage by working this out with him, you assume the relationship cannot be fixed and might very well end.

You have to admit that, on the surface, your past does not inspire confidence in sustaining a monogamous relationship. Just remember that your husband has only been in this for only 2 months as well--he's made the same huge emotional investment in this just as you have--and he obviously has not yet come to terms with your past given this new set of circumstances. But it doesn't seem like he thinks its all falling apart. However, if you're already questioning whether or not your marriage is salvageable, then don't you think your husband's insecurities are justified?

If you want to save your marriage, you're going to have to realize that it isn't a fairy tale and never will be, and be totally ok with that. More than that, you're going to have to want the reality of the situation more than the fairy tale. Otherwise, its just going to get worse.

And, please, don't listen to these people who say that your husband is obviously a jerk and to dump him ASAP. You married him for a reason, right? Because you love him and want to spend the rest of your life with him? I hope I'm not being naive in this assumption. And you don't need therapy either.
posted by tjvis at 10:49 AM on March 30, 2007

Can it be "saved" after 2 months? Of course. From your marriage's pov, I'm a little worried by the idea you think it's on the rocks. So you have an issue to work through? Don't worry, there will be plenty more if you stay married. And this won't be the most difficult of them. On reflection, if you guys can't cope with this, better split now. It only gets tougher. Oh, and better, maybe. Think: do I want to be with this guy in ten years' time? If yes, work at it.
posted by londongeezer at 10:50 AM on March 30, 2007

I didn't read anyone else's reply. But. You say he doesn't accept you any more, but earlier you say you resent him for the telling. You need to get back the feeling of you two against the world. You therefore need to figure out what you can ask from him that would ease your resentment, if you can't just let go of it. Therapy is not necessary. This is basic communication. "When you do X, I feel Y, so please do Z." It's a risk, because the person can say no. You can then renegotiate or walk away, but at least you know where you stand. I've had jaw-dropping suprises, like yours, that lead to conflicts. With my partner (sadly not with my family) we always get through it. It's about acceptance. YOur bump just came shockingly early after the honeymoon. My two cents.
posted by Listener at 11:20 AM on March 30, 2007

All long term relationships have their ups and downs, but the secret to them remaining vital is communication. If your husband is too scared to go to a couples therapist now, I'd suggest you try working through one of John Gottman's self-help books. with him.

Gottman is a terrific researcher and therapist and he has very practical suggestions about how couples can maintain and strengthen connections and friendships. Just try googling his name and you can learn a lot about what his thinking is, and see if it seems suitable for you and your husband.
posted by jasper411 at 11:32 AM on March 30, 2007

I'm going to go against the flow here and give you an alternative point of view. Probably no one else is going to tell you what I'm about to say, and after this comment there will be several that tell you to ignore what I said. But maybe you could benefit from a different perspective. So, here goes:

Part of the problem here is that you aren't being realistic about how you two should think about your past. You had (give or take) two hundred sexual partners. That's off the charts. What you want is for your husband to be "cool" with that, "shrug it off" in a "non-judgmental way" and think it's "no big deal." It sounds like he realized pretty quick that that's what you wanted, and, in modern society, that's that standard "appropriate" reaction that we expect. We're told that it shouldn't matter how many drug-fueled one-night-stands you've had, when someone loves you, they shouldn't mind at all. That's nuts, but it's the party line.

He's having a hard time dealing with your past, and no surprise. Only someone with a bizarrely low standard for sexual involvement wouldn't have difficulty dealing with it. (And you wouldn't want to be married to that kind of person, anyway.) It's hard to know without talking to you both in person, but my guess is that he tried really hard to do what he thought he was supposed to do and just shrug it off, and now he's discovered that just forgetting about that kind of past isn't possible for him. So what does he do? He's stuck. He can't tell you he has a problem with it, because he's already shrugged it off, and in a sense it would be reneging on a commitment to come back now and try to talk it through. He does something stupid and talks about it with his friend (which was a huge violation of your relationship, and should never have happened) because he didn't know of another outlet for dealing with this. And now, because he doesn't feel like he can directly address his distress at your past, he's coming at things from other angles, like the STD issue. It's probably good advice to get a full STD screen and show him the results, just on general principles, but the minute you do that, he'll just find something else to be concerned about that's not-quite the real issue, but is related to it. Actually, that's already happening--he's critiquing some things you like to do sexually as your attempt to "work out your issues."

Okay, full disclosure. I'm a Christian minister, and I can't read your situation through any other lenses than those. When I look at your story, I see a situation that is crying out not for a shrug, but for grace. He's going to nit-pick anything remotely sexual in your current life forever until you give him permission to be truly hurt by your past promiscuity. You have to let him know that as your life-time spouse and partner, you know that your past affects him, and that you know you really messed up and you're sorry for it. And then I think you need to ask him to forgive you. It's what he wants to do--or else he wouldn't have married you. But by taking your past off the table for any kind of critique, you've also ruled out the possibility of him taking a long look at what you've done, acknowledging the ways it hurts him, and then consciously choosing to offer you grace.

One you let him truly be hurt and then choose to forgive you, these other symptoms (talking to friends, fretting about STD's, sexual anxieties) are likely to go away. But I doubt they will until then. I would also suspect (although, again, I can't know for certain), that it would be a healthy think in your live to have some speak forgiveness to you rather than just shrugging at what you've done. A shrug might be what you think you want, but it leaves a lot churning under the surface. Anyway, which is the deeper form of acceptance, to think nothing you've done is a big deal, or to think that you've let him and yourself down in some important ways, but that his love and acceptance of you is so great that he is compelled to truly forgive you? I think the latter, but again, I have my biases.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2007 [15 favorites]

I don't have time to preview so I hope this ain't a repeat of what everyone else said. I think there is something else bugging him, making him feel insecure, and it's coming out in your relationship. Maybe his boss looked at him crosseyed. Maybe he feels like he failed in some other way.

I'd do what you can to reassure him, without going overboard & catering to his insecurity. Maybe he needs to hear how great he is in bed, how much better he is than all those other guys. (Say this without actually bringing up the guys.) If he says you're blowing it out of proportion, then obviously it's not as big of a deal to him as it is to you. Tell him what specific behaviors annoy you (him horning in on your conversations with male friends, him suggesting you lied about safe sex). FFS, both of you can get STD tests now and easily prove that neither of you have anything.

I don't think this is unsalvageable at all. For whatever reason, he's hit an insecure patch. Midlife crisis? who knows. I bet it has less to do with you and your past than you think. Which is what he's trying to tell you when he says " don't make such a big deal out of it." Leave him alone, let him know you're supportive, and let him work out his own shit. Pestering him is just going to spin up his paranoid thoughts.
posted by desjardins at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2007

OK, I've read what everyone else said and there's some good advice and some not so good. In general, I would favor the "it's been two months and you finally had a fight" camp. This isn't a big deal. You're going to have fights. This time it's about your prior sexual history. Next time it'll be about his porno collection or (worse) World of Warcraft addiction. The reasons don't matter much. It's a fight. You come up with reasons because you're feeling bad about something (whether or not it's the reason you decide to voice) and you yell at each other (or just stew, depending on personality) and then you work it out -- together or with help or with "grace" (whatever that is) or whatever.

He probably has decided that he feels betrayed because you banged a lot of other guys and you probably feel betrayed (rightly) because he blabbed. It'll pass -- seriously -- just be good to each other for a bit. My general feeling is that things like this are like scabs -- don't pick at them and they heal. But some people love to pick, and if that works for you then feel free. Whatever you do don't panic -- those of us who've been married for a while know that this happens and it passes.

But as far as I can see there is only one truly evil and dangerous post up there and here it is:

4. I think he should be punished for all of this bad behavior, and you can tell him I told you so. This punishment should involve him taking you somewhere nice on a vacation and treating you like a princess.

Having a wife is a privilege. I don't get why people don't get this.

This person is either (a) single or (b) fucking insane or (c) both. Having a wife is not a privilege. Having a husband is not a privilege. Having either is sometimes an enormous joy and sometimes and enormous pain in the ass and most often (if you're lucky) a pleasant way to go through life based on mutual support and understanding. I'm not saying it's not wonderful -- it is -- but it isn't an endless dream of ponies and rainbows and if you think your husband owes you something because you have granted him the privilege of being his wife (or, God forbid, vice versa) the marriage is headed for disaster.

This is a very new-age-man thing to say and I'm sure there are people out there who believe it, but imagine if I said "Having a husband is a privilege. As husband I demand my husbandly rights over my wife." I don't expect that would go over very well (anymore), nor should it. Having a relationship requires work. It's not a right, and it's not a privilege. As cliched as it is to say, it's a job. It just happens to be a job with exceptional rewards.
posted by The Bellman at 12:01 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am astounded at the level of misogyny in this thread. Good fucking god. "wear makeup, give him a backrub, let him forgive you, you crack whore"? Are you people for real? I have never been so ashamed of the boy's club as I am at this very moment.

Anonymous, your first mistake was admitting your past. The vast majority of men, as evidenced by this thread, consider their women property...and if that woman has been "used" too many times before they got to "use" her, she's devalued.

As you can see by the majority of responses in this thread, your vagina is not your own. It's supposed to be held sacred for some future man. Duh. How could you not know that? *eyeroll*

"Let him forgive you." Jesus on a stick, that's even more offensive that the "crack whore" comments.

This thread has turned my stomach. Not from anything that anonymous has done, but because she was honest with someone who then whipped around and betrayed her, then is punishing *her* for his betrayal...and you people are telling her to wear makeup, give him back rubs and beg for forgiveness.


Anon, I don't know if the relationship can be saved. I don't know either of you, so I can't speak to your level of self awareness, or willingness to work through issues, or capacity for understanding.

What I do know, from what you've said, is that you made an incredible journey, you learned much from it, you stepped away from the brink of disaster, and you're an honorable enough person that you thought you could trust your partner with the story of your Dante-esque jaunt through to self actualization.

He's the bozo here. He's the one that betrayed you. He's the one punishing you because he told other people something about you that embarrasses him.

You don't need to apologize. You don't need to ask for forgiveness. You don't need to put on makeup and give him back rubs because he's an insecure little prick that can't deal with honesty.

I would recommend couple's counseling. But, I would also suggest that it's quite possible he will never get over this issue. He is quite likely to always think of you as "used goods". I say that based on both the responses in this thread, and on how I hear guys talk all the time. Should you find that this relationship cannot be saved, I really would avoid mentioning a specific number of partners in the future. Saying "I partied my way through college" is both truthful and gives men enough room to not be dicks about their penises going where others have gone before.

I hope that you find a good resolution, and by that, I hope that you find a way to move forward in happiness.
posted by dejah420 at 12:07 PM on March 30, 2007 [30 favorites]

He broke your trust. Now he's playing defensive with a big side of insecure and thinks he can get away with that kind of selfishness because having a sexual past like yours is so off-kilter and nasty, and of course you should be feeling guilty about it anyway. Bullshit. It's his issue. He needs to figure it out, work it out with you, and apologize to you. If he can't/won't, joint counselling, because that shit will linger for a very long time (trust and honesty, very very big relationship points). If he refuses, personally, I would walk. I mean, you can suck it up and soothe his ego and insecurity (because, how dare you, you should be wallowing in guilt and placating your wonderful man willing to put up with you being damaged goods), but that's at the price of putting yourself down and validating this behavior.

Trust is a huge relationship issue for me and someone that would 1) break it and 2) not be sorry and do their utmost to make it up having broken it is not someone worth partnering with. Turning around and punishing you (in bed, and implying you're dishonest) for his fuck-up and insecurity is low. I can get that, as a typical guy, he might not know quite how to handle this. That's fine. But it's not at all fine to slough that shit off and put it on you to make himself feel better when you didn't do anything wrong. Call him on it and talk it out (and in your position, I would be pretty thoroughly and righteously pissed about this). Damn right it should be the two of you against the world - I wouldn't settle for less. And if you can't trust each other and you can't be honest with each other then it's not a good partnership. (May as well get counselling for yourself even if he won't go.)
posted by Melinika at 12:09 PM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think you've gotten a lot of good advice in this discussion, and probably some not so good.

I hope things work out for you and your husband but if they don't I think kaizen's comment was spot on. For potential future relationships or for others in similar situations I don't think telling all is the best thing. You can describe the situation generally without attaching a number, like "I went through a period trying to find acceptance and I got involved with drugs and multiple partners." More details definitely aren't helpful, and I honestly probably couldn't deal with knowing as much as your husband does.

Some have come down on your husband for telling his friend. It's not something that should have happened in an ideal world but in this world people tell their friends things their partners wish they wouldn't have. I think it's human nature to want or need to discuss some things and he's in the unenviable position where he can't do it with you and, even if he could, probably doesn't want to. I can definitely picture how something like that may have come out with C in an ill-considered moment, perhaps one involving alcohol.

My own reading of your question and the responses suggests there are a few issues that are coming out. The end of the honeymoon period where it becomes obvious that this is a real marriage not a fairy tale. His insecurity, inadequacy, and difficulty accepting your past. You're feeling betrayed about telling C and your reaction has him on shaky footing.

I think Pater Aletheias's response is definitely worth considering. This may not be something that can be dealt with by him just shrugging it off.
posted by 6550 at 12:12 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

It sounds like the "fairy-tale" image (which I realize you don't talk about too much and is probably just shorthand for "surprisingly awesome") was based somewhat/largely on him being fine with your past? So this feels like the end because that basic pillar has proven to not be as solid as it seemed.

I think your dude's "non-judgmental no-big-deal" approach allowed a lot of stuff to go unexamined, you know? Just being "okay" with things can cover up a lot of not being okay, as it seems is happening here. (It's like people who are described as "laid back" which really means passive and unable to deal with their shit. BUT ANYWAY I DIGRESS.)

[It's also worth noting that the icky "supportive" feminist is maybe somebody who is actually dealing with the issue and is more engaged with you—and himself—on the matter (how has that experience effected you? what will it mean for me and my manifold insecurities, both known and unknown? etc.)]

You trusted him when he said he was cool with it. That's totally legit, but has proven to be somewhat naive. You were hoping that him saying he was fine meant he was fine and that your relationship was fine and that this aspect of it was settled. Now you know it's not.

You two need to talk it out, which means he needs to stop avoiding the issue and inventing bullshit—yes, bullshit—ideas like you using rough sex to work through "your issues." (And while it's probably not the best plan to call it bullshit to his face, you are totally right to draw that line between you two and say that you recognize what he's going through but that it's totally not acceptable for him to accuse you of this just because he's conflicted about you as a sexual partner).

If he really does have a lot to work through re: your past it'll be important for him to have an outlet that isn't you. You can't be both therapist and the cause of his pain. That might just be a good friend, for him, but it's worth reminding yourself and him of that.

This isn't just a rough patch, given the seriousness of the issue. It's something that will come up again if you don't deal with it now. But it's also something that, if you do get through it, will make your relationship so much more awesome and solid.

I think you need to come to him and talk to him with all your resources marshaled: all the love you have for him, all the positive things that he is and has been for you; but also all the great things that you have done for yourself in getting out of your old, crazy life. Let him know how much you love him and how much he means to you but that you will always be this person who did these things and that will always be a part of your relationship. And that you are there to help him work through it, to help both of you work through it.

Peter Aletheias's comment is half dead-on. Him taking a long look at what you've done [and] acknowledging the ways it hurts him is precisely what he needs to go through. You have nothing to apologize for, but there are things you can do and say that will open up the space for him to go through the process.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:14 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Anon, I hope to God you read this, because there is a lot of bullshit in this thread.

I am almost completely with dejah420 here. The idea that you need to look for his forgiveness about your past behavior is laughable. You did not betray him with your past! You weren't dating him when you racked up sexual partners and did drugs. You got through that beforehand. He has no right, no right at all, to act like you should have known when you were 18 that you were marrying him and should have preserved your precious vagina's purity with that in mind. Posters who are implying that are fucking misogynist jackasses.

You did what a lot of people don't have the balls to do, and you admitted to him--early on!--the difficulties you went through and gave him a chance to confront you about them and work through them together. Now you're married and BAM--suddenly he's got issues with it? What the hell? How is that fair? How is that right?

He does have the right to have difficulties resolving the person you are now with the person you used to be. I would as well, if a partner of mine confined their kind of difficult past to me. I would be worried about them, and I would be confused about how to deal with the situation. But I wouldn't decide to drop all this worry and confusion on them after we were married. Jesus.

BUT--you love him. He loves you. And the underlying issues are there, and they're breaking through, for better or for worse. So you need to talk with him about them. Get the STD workup. Not because you think it will resolve things--it won't--but because that's what partners owe to one another anyway. And tell him what you feel. Ask him to be completely, and utterly upfront with you about how he feels about you and your past, and don't try to defend yourself until he's finished.

And then explain you love him, you would not betray him, and while you understand his pain there is not a damn thing you can do about it. Because this is something you worked through a long time ago. You can't change the past. He has to move on--whether through therapy or reflection--and you can help him, but you can't force him through it. And if he doesn't believe you there's nothing you can do. Say you want counseling. Frankly, your past is enough of an outlier that this is a freakin' major issue.

Also: I don't think this will necessarily spell the end of your marriage. As others have said, marriages can be rough. They're not fairy tales. I mean, I say this as an unmarried person, so take that as it is, but still--understand shit like this will come up. But ignoring it doesn't make it go away.
posted by Anonymous at 12:54 PM on March 30, 2007

he's trying to renegotiate the moral framework of your marriage by putting you on the defensive, making you feel guilty for your past, so that you will be more compliant to his wishes. he sees no problem with putting your private business on the street in aid of this.
whether or not you can save the marriage is the wrong question. you need to set some rules here, and let the marriage live or die based on whether or not he obeys them.
posted by bruce at 1:03 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think there is something you did not tell us. What exactly was said during this argument? Did you by any chance make statements along the line of : "Any of those guys would be happy to have me with him right now?"

A statement like that, you may have forgotten, but can be very very bitter for some men to swallow. He may be brooding over something like that. And unaddressed, it can lead to marriage breakup, particularly for the type of individual who broods.
posted by markovich at 1:10 PM on March 30, 2007

2nd & 3rd dejah420 and schroedinger. 200 or 2 it's your damn body. The past is not the causing this communication breakdown, you did not retroactively harm him
posted by French Fry at 1:18 PM on March 30, 2007

A few comments removed. There is a MeTa thread about this, anyone who is not answering the question but responding to other posters should go there.
posted by jessamyn at 1:42 PM on March 30, 2007

4thing dejah420 and adding that peter alethias' comment is one of the more distasteful things I have ever read on askme.

Now, to the question: I think you have more than one issue going on here and, actually, he may not be far off when he says this is a "rough patch." After 2 or 3 months, marriages & relationships pretty much always change. For lack of a better word, they get more real. By real, I mean that some of the luster wears off, you begin to notice that the other person has flaws and is human, oh horrors, and that's often the time when people's past starts to get dragged up. Also, the sex often changes. This is the time when it's really important to have more communication and not less, because stuff that gets swept under the rug now has a nasty tendency to grow and get horrible in a couple of years.

So I think the fact that you two are talking about this and addressing it at all is a total net plus. Yeah, a counselor probably wouldn't hurt, but the main thing is to keep talking. Talk it to death. Talk about how much you do love each other and how much you love your sex life and how much you two want to be only with each other forever and isn't that amazing and so on and so forth. And talk about how the past keeps on receding and what you're doing now are the memories that the two of you are going to have in common and share from now on - and in a lifetime, that stuff from your early 20s will be long faded and gone, but your memories of the beginning of your marriage should still be sweet. Just don't let the anger - his or yours - keep building quietly up until it's a big wall in the living room because take it from divorced me, that is a lot harder to solve than a 2 months in thing about your past. And also, you know, without your past you wouldn't be you, and it's you who he's in love with. Besides, your wild oats are sown - you might mention that to him. You already did it - you're not going to leave him and go off to do more.

However. Do not forget that you have done nothing wrong. Your past is your own and anyone who would ask you to beg forgiveness for something you did before you even met him is so full of shit I can barely stand it. I have a pretty damn colorful past myself and I'm proud of it. It adds to me, it makes me who I am today and I learned from some of my mistakes and I keep on repeating some of the more fun ones and, all in all, I think, it's better to have a colorful past than a terribly bland and boring one.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:57 PM on March 30, 2007

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.

Has he been to the doctor lately? Is it possible that he found out that he has an STI, assumed he got it from you, and freaked out? It seems strange that he would accuse you of lying about this while continuing to have sex with you.

While I agree that you don't owe him apologies or back-rubs for your past, those small acts of love could still help a lot in such a tense time. Acting out our love can often rekindle it.

As for the rest, I've just got to hand it to you for managing to get through such a rough patch and for being brave enough to be up-front about it with him. I hope things work out.
posted by heatherann at 2:19 PM on March 30, 2007

Whether you did wrong things in the past, you didn't wrong him by doing them. Maybe they were mistakes, maybe even morally wrong, but they weren't betrayals of him. So he can't forgive you for wronging him, because you didn't.

He did (deliberately!) wrong you, by telling C about your past.

Or, maybe he honestly didn't realize that you would want your past kept secret, in which case he didn't mean to wrong you. I think this is a bit far-fetched, especially if you have known each other for a long time, and especially because he gave his friend the "shut UP" look. But let's take him at his word. Why would he not realize that you wanted your past to be confidential?

Maybe he set you up in his mind as "the wild girl" who does raunchy stuff and doesn't care who knows it. Maybe (a) this by itself is pleasing to him (if he is generally very positive about women owning their sexuality), or maybe (b) it's pleasing in a kind of "wow, sexy, naughty girl" kind of way (if he generally thinks sex workers for example have something to be ashamed about, if he ever uses the word "slut").

Either way, he's been wrong about you as the raunchy wild girl who's public about her sexuality. So he's now learned something about you. How will he react?

If he's sex-positive as in (a), it seems like you should be able to work through this by talking it over.

If he's sex-conflicted as in (b), it will be more difficult. Maybe he told his friend because he's insecure, feels like he won't be a good enough partner, and needed some outlet for those feelings. But maybe he told his friend to titillate the friend (my wife is such a slut! it's hot!), in which case that's a huge, huge betrayal of you -- because in some deep way he sees you as being tainted by your past, and because he used your story (which he himself sees as being sort of shameful) to get cheap social points. That is, he intentionally shamed the person who should be first-priority (you), in order to please or impress someone who should be second-priority (his friend).

I'm guessing that that last possibility is the one you see as likely. In which case, you should explain clearly and calmly to him that this kind of behavior shows that does not respect you, and you won't put up with it.

Pater Alethias is right that it's important for both of you to work through his discomfort with your past, but as I said above, he can't really forgive you since you haven't wronged him -- though he can "come to terms" with your past.

But if you suspect that he betrayed you for cheap social points, and because he wasn't man enough to tell you that he was uncomfortable/titillated/bothered by your past, then he has wronged you and should be trying to earn your trust and forgiveness.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:07 PM on March 30, 2007

Re-reading what you posted, here's another possibility:

Could it be that he only told the friend about your past in very general terms? (Eg: "she went through a period where she did drugs and slept around a lot") That could explain C's remark, and seems to me like much less of a betrayal than if he got into specifics (eg: "she was an addict and had hundreds of partners"). Maybe this is why he thinks it's not a big deal?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:15 PM on March 30, 2007

Just want to throw out another possible angle.

Perhaps this really doesn't have as much to do with your sexual past as it appears to either of you.

Perhaps he's afraid that if you went through one long period of self-destruction (and I'm not intending to condemn any specific behaviors by calling it that, just referencing your own take on that period of your life) you might go through another one -- and he doesn't know how on earth he'd deal with it if you did.

I don't know if anything can be done but talk, talk, talk. Even if he's not yet ready to open up about his own feelings, it seems it needs to happen eventually. I think there are few things worse for a relationship than festering weirdness/resentment/etc.
posted by treepour at 3:18 PM on March 30, 2007

What went wrong here, initially, is the collision of your security and standards internal to the relationship with those of outsiders. Both of you were comfortable and open about your past. You probably both saw it exactly as dejah420 and others describe it: a period of difficulty like many of us have had that you got through and now you're happy. What's the big deal? But then, as we see in this thread, outsiders may not be so accepting. Seems to me that we know that at least one person, "C", probably isn't. And we don't know that your husband hasn't mentioned it to others that were judgmental.

In my opinion, based upon your narrative, I don't think it was wrong of your husband to mention your past to his friend. It may have been naive, but not wrong and not—based upon my reading of what you've said—a betrayal of trust. It sounds like you were open and secure about it, and he was too. However, a negative and judgmental reaction from his friend, or others that he trusts and respects, very likely will, over time, start to undermine his acceptance of it. This is human. We're very subject to social pressures.

Furthermore, your own acceptance of your past is subject to those same pressures. And of all the people to whom you would be sensitive to their judgment, no one is more important than your husband. So when he became insecure, it undermined all your own security about it. Suddenly something that was no big deal is a big deal.

The part that really worries me, as it does others, is that your husband actually has accused you of lying. That's such a strong reaction to all this that it goes beyond the boundaries of what I'd expect from only what you've described. That's why I suspect that one of two things are true: 1) someone has his ear and is saying really disapproving and judgmental things and convincing him you're a liar; or, 2) he was never much accepting and secure in your past in the first place.

The latter possibility is disturbing and you need to find out if that's the case. If it is, then you've got a deep problem. You may not want to continue to be married to him. Otherwise, his feelings must change, somehow.

The former possibility is a more surmountable problem. The solution amounts to working out between the two of you a comprehension of your past, how you feel about it, and how you deal with it, that takes into account both the context inside your relationship and the context of other people who may be disapproving and judgmental. It requires that you both be realistic that it's normal to have latent insecurities that can be greatly amplified by outsiders. It requires that you trust each other to essentially be okay with your past while still each having some latent insecurities. You'll need to decide how you want to deal with other people. Do you want to face down other people's disapproval, be defiant? Or do you want to avoid other people's crap by not letting them know about your past?

Both of you may want to avoid telling outsiders about your past, not because either of you are ashamed of it, but simply as a practical decision that recognizes that other people can be judgmental and may cause problems for you as a result. If you decide to deal with it this way, though, you both need to be on the same page about things.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:34 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

(Forgive the disjointed nature of this, I don't have enough time to dedicate to this.)

Honestly, this is not very hard to understand or navigate. To avoid cries of misogyny or offensiveness, I'm going to coin a new word: The word is "bralk" and it means "a male or female who has been very promiscuous and has had a great many partners." I myself am a "bralk" or at least a "bralk" wanna-be, depending on your definitions.

He met you, found out your past, and loved the dirty, raunchy hard-core sex life of a playboy. He was dating a "bralk", and loved it.

Now you're married, and by relating your story to his friend, it has suddenly dawned on him that he married a "bralk". And that thought wasn't NEARLY as pleasant as when he was dating a "bralk". Where before he was proud, now he's ashamed.

The obvious factor in all this, and where he is having the problem cognitively dealing with this, is that you are no longer a "bralk". You are a dedicated, monogamous wife, and intend to stay that way.

However, to him, he has somewhat belatedly learned what reactions might be like if others find out you were a "bralk". It doesn't garner high-fives like it did at the frat house. It will inevitably be met with claims of "how do you deal with it" or "there's no way I could marry someone like that".

Understand also that people's expectations can change, sometimes wildly, after marriage.

Consider a recently divorced couple I know. They dated for about 2.5 years, and one of the things he enjoyed was that she swallowed. Well, after they got married, the wife overheard them discussing some less-than-appreciated new girlfriend of a comrade, and she overheard him say that "only sluts swallow". The discussion was in reference to someone else, but it betrayed his true feelings on the subject, so she never swallowed again, for 12 years.

See, he was proud of it, but once she became his wife instead of his girlfriend, it was no longer fun, it was shameful.

In a sufficiently large enough group of friends, this has played out several times. For instance, I knew someone who started dating a stripper. At first, it was a huge deal about "look at me, I'm dating a stripper" until they got serious, then it was no longer funny (to him) to talk about his fiance twirling on a pole for us in the living room.

Will it work out? Hell if I know. It can, of course. But basically I think your option in the future is going to be to try to erase and forget that you ever were a "bralk". And that might not be acceptable to you.

In the short term, all you can do is reassure him, and see if he will talk to you.
posted by Ynoxas at 4:19 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

"This led to a huge blowout after C left."
I don't know if this applies to everyone, but for me nothing kills sexual chemistry like a good fight. My advice for saving your marriage is to think twice (or more, and use some of those thoughts to consider the perspective of your audience), speak once.

It's not clear in your post if huge blowout fights are a routine part of your married life, but if they are you should get divorced right away. There's no sense in living with your enemy, regardless of the rationalizations and social constructs you've built around the relationship.

As for his doubts of your honesty about the STDs: this is not something you should ever demand that he just 'trust you' about. Go get screened and show him a piece of paper that shows what you do and don't have. It's the least you can do.
posted by mullingitover at 5:49 PM on March 30, 2007

Response by poster: The anonymous poster asked me to post this:
1. I was never a whore, crack or otherwise. I've snorted my share of lines but I've never even seen crack in person. The closest I've ever been to it was at a party once and I asked the person in line in front of me for the toilet if he could smell that weird chemically smell, and he told me it was crack being smoked down the hall behind a closed door. It is possible to have sex with hundreds, hell, THOUSANDS of people, and never once take money or goods in trade. Maybe I should have, though, I might have scratched up enough for a down payment on a house or something.

2. For those who wonder, I've known my husband through mutual friends for five years, we were in a long distance relationship for about a year and a half, we lived together for four months, and we've been married since January. He's had about 30 partners, 20 of which were drunken one-night-stands. Until the recent troubles, my sexual past never seemed to trouble him. We even joked about it. I can only guess that C, or whomever else he might have told, has made him question everything, but he won't admit to it if that's the case.

3. While I understand that this may seem strange to some people because of their religious beliefs or just because of their general feelings about sex, the almost-entirely-safe sex I had with those 200-odd people is really not that big of a deal to me at all. Unlike the alcohol and drugs, It didn't damage my body, and because I don't view my vagina as some sacred space that has been violated but rather just another part of my body, it didn't damage me psychologically. The sex life I had before all this exploded shows that. The main reason I don't bandy this information about willy-nilly (aside from the fact that it's no one's business but mine) is because most people (as evidenced by many of the responses in this thread) simply can't handle it without getting their proverbial panties in some kind of wad. I want to be known as anonymous, the girl who likes video games and can do magic tricks, not as anonymous, the former alcoholic turbo-slut. Also, my husband and I both work in a small, close-knit industry, as do almost all of our friends, and I am probably going to work for, or with, or even supervise some of them at some point, so keeping the more unusual aspects of my past private is even more important because of that.

4. I had the full work-up of STD tests when I got my last pap smear about two years ago. I've not touched anyone but my husband since then. He knows I'm clean, he just thinks it's statistically impossible that I didn't get the clap and have it treated at some point.

I've really appreciated lots of the answers here. Even the wadded-panty set has had some good advice. But enough with the crack whore stuff, even if it is a metaphor or whatever. Please feel free to email me at the address at the bottom of the original post if you want to.
posted by Anonymous at 6:11 PM on March 30, 2007


I regret my choice of words. I apologize, and meant no disrespect. I wish you the best with your husband.
posted by xammerboy at 6:23 PM on March 30, 2007

I have no idea what the answer to your question is. Only time will tell. But perhaps you may find it useful to consider whether you yourself have unresolved issues about your past. (How is it your husband and/or his friend could push your buttons so painfully?)

It does seem like the friend dropped a bomb on the two of you. Some friend!
posted by Coaticass at 6:25 PM on March 30, 2007

My partner and I had a big blow-out fight about two or three months into our marriage, over exactly the same issue. (The numbers weren't anywhere near the same, but the hurt feelings and mean words were a lot worse.) I don't know if it is just an "everyone does it, it's normal" thing, or only insecure assholes like me who freak out and behave badly, but you guys sure aren't alone. (For what it's worth, we had that same argument intermittently for the next two or three years before I finally wised up and caught on that it was pretty cool that she loved *me* and only me and not some previous boyfriend, and since then all our stupid fights have been about different things entirely.)

I mean, everyone here is being all "OMG, 200 partners, OMG!!!", but my first real girlfriend could never let go of the fact that she had been a virgin, but I had had three previous partners; in the end part of why we broke up was because of this. It's not the absolute number that is the problem here.

So yes, your marriage can be saved (it may not even be in serious crisis). Learning to communicate is part of a relationship -- you've only been living together what, seven months? This is still early days for all kinds of things, and there will be lots of ups and downs to come. You are starting on a good foundation, and that is a good place from which to build.

If he brings up the STD thing again, you could offer to get retested immediately, if that would make him feel better. But I'm guessing that it isn't really about the STD thing at all, and instead is about insecurity, concerns about social stigma, and not being sure how to talk about it.

Counseling, at least for you if he refuses to go, might not be the worst idea in the world. It sure helps a lot of people. But at the same time, you write that:

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.

Those aren't the words of a guy who wants a divorce and wants to end a relationship. That sounds like someone who sees good times ahead, but maybe needs help getting there with you.
posted by Forktine at 6:37 PM on March 30, 2007

Guilt turns people into assholes, sometimes.

Here's what may be happening:

(1) Husband messes up and reveals a marital confidence.
(2) Husband feels extremely guilty, and (like many a newlywed) is afraid that he has broken the marriage. He hasn't, of course, but this marriage thing is new and freaky, and he has nothing to compare the situation against.
(3) Husband can't deal with being the marriage-ruining jerk who hurt and humiliated his wife by telling tales about her, so he (consciously or unconsciously) starts thrashing about, looking for ways to push some or all of the blame for the marriage being (in his mind) borked.
(4) Husband latches onto the very issues that he told tales about.
(5) Husband now gets to tell himself that the problems are not his fault, because wife has "issues about sex," or is "lying about having had STDs."
(6) This is actually really bad, because husband seems to be willing to call his wife a liar and accuse him of intentionally and dishonestly putting his health in danger.

As to what to do about it, if this is truly the case, I honestly have no idea. I've had situations like this in the past (same dynamics, not the same facts) but quite frankly, every one of those relationships eventually went tits-up.

The one time in my married life when feelings of guilt created a bit of a malfunction for one of us, we were able to talk it out and unpack the situation. The guilty-feeling one eventually owned up to the feelings, and the other explained that there was nothing to feel guilty about, and it was okay. So I guess, if I were to offer a solution, it would be to try and sit down together, be as honest as you can, and dig your way through all the accusations, the hurt, and the other BS.

Good luck.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:39 PM on March 30, 2007

Here's a thought: what if he thought that "if she isn't ashamed of it, why should I be ashamed of it?" and so was cool with it, but (via the blowout) he now realizes you ARE ashamed of it, and so that made him view things differently?

Meanwhile, yes, therapy.
posted by davejay at 6:50 PM on March 30, 2007

I think LobsterMitten's post is awesome, and spot-on. I think you two can work it out, and the way I would start is by flipping Pater Aletheais advice on it's head, and suggesting that you forgive him for telling his friend. I think he was in the wrong, but understandably. I think that as others have pointed out, Ynoxas most recently, he may be having some serious cognitive dissonance due to your recent change from girlfriend to spouse. This is his issue, but I think it's an insecurity many men would have. He should apologize for betraying your trust, and you should forgive him for it, as he was probably really intimidated (and maybe still is) by your past. You sound, in your post, like an awesome woman; put that awesomness to use and talk to your new husband.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 6:53 PM on March 30, 2007

I don't know if I know the answer to this, but I can tell you what happened for my husband and me. When we got married, young, with a baby, we had enormous trouble learning to live together. We had great goodwill and love for each other, but still, as we grew up (early twenties - early forties), we had to deal with a number of issues and still do.

Those issues include: differences in semantics (gender-wise, class-wise, education-wise), differences in expectations (spousal mind-reading, Cindarella complex, social preferences), differences in interests & hobbies and values for each, differences of opinions in what's enough (enough money, enough arguing, enough housework).

Some of these arguments/disagreements/differences left us worn down and miserable and feeling hopeless about the longevity of our marriage. We split twice for a total of two years.

Now, after years of practice, we still have differences and sometimes I still feel a little hopeless about the direction we're going in, but sometimes that's just about my mood-swings more than any deep truth about us.

I can't say what your husband (or indeed his buddy) is thinking or feeling, but I think the only way you're going to work this out is through painful discussion where you take turns at really listening to each other and accepting each other's viewpoint, even if you don't like it. You need to tell him that you see marriage as being us against the world and you need to hear exactly what he thinks about your past, and his indiscretion (maybe he's ashamed and that's colouring your relationship).

I think though that from both your original comment and your followup that you are intelligent, and I suspect your choice of life partner would reflect that intelligence. So, yes, I think this marriage can be saved. And I think it can be stronger for this opportunity to really learn what both of you think about stuff, and how to fight about stuff, and about behaviours that are tolerable or not(avoiding each other, holding grudges) and about what you expect, and I think I'm starting to repeat myself.

Anyway, it hurts when something like this happens, and it feels like it's the end, and it can be the end, if you (both) don't take steps to make it another building block in your relationship. But painful experiences aren't reasons to end a marriage, they're part of it.

email in profile if you're interested in discussing further.
posted by b33j at 6:54 PM on March 30, 2007

It's been suggested above, and it may seem somewhat off-topic, but I enthusiastically second the suggestion of Gottman's books, specifically 7 Principles. Your marriage doesn't have to be in trouble to get huge benefits out of it, and I think you'll find that it directly addresses the issues at hand.
posted by moira at 7:34 PM on March 30, 2007

I think the missing piece of the puzzle is why your husband seems to be changing his attitude.

If it's because so-called friends of his are wounding his pride or giving him "advice," then, IMO, he needs to ask himself whether he made the marriage vows to them or to you.

On the other hand, some people do have crises of conscience from time to time. For example, if he comes from a rather puritanical background, old fears about sexuality could be coming back to haunt him.

I'd guess there could be other reasons, too, that only he might have a clue about.

Seems to me, then, that how you approach the situation -- anger, compassion, reassurance, some combination therein, etc -- will therefore largely depend on why he's changed his tune.

The problem is he's clamming up about it. And worse, he's behaving passive-aggressively, accusing you of lying, etc.

So maybe something to ask yourself is how long you're willing to put up with him acting passive-aggressively while refusing to clue you into what he's really thinking/feeling.

I suppose it's debatable whether or not he has an obligation to open up to you before he's had a chance to think through his feelings himself. But I feel that you have every right to put your foot down and demand that the hurtful behaviors stop. No more accusing you of lying, accusing you of "working out your sexual issues" via rough sex, etc. If he's going to accuse you of such things, he needs to be able to back up that statement with a sound argument, since it's a 180 from what he clearly used to think. Otherwise, he needs to back off.

I don't think your marriage is doomed, but this doesn't sound easy, and I wish you the very best of luck. In a new, deep relationship (I can't speak to being married), I think it takes a long time to stop stepping on one another toes -- and then getting angry at the other for having left his/her foot where you happened to be stepping. (Somewhat silly analogy, probably, but it's worked that way in my experience.)
posted by treepour at 7:56 PM on March 30, 2007

"I had this idea of our marriage as being this united-front, us-against-the-world, defending-each-other-no-matter-what partnership."

These sorts of partnerships do exist. If this marriage turns out to be unsalvagable, don't let it convince you that this sort of relationship is impossible. Just trust me on this.
posted by milarepa at 8:08 PM on March 30, 2007

I'm sorry you're having troubles. But this is something that askmefi can't help you with. We don't know enough of the story and there are several gaps in it like how long did you know him before you guys married, how old are you guys, why the blow out with C etc, etc

In short therapy. If your husband doesn't want to go, ok, then go yourself. Askmefi can't help, but that doesn't mean you can't get help. Talk to your husband, or a friend or a therapist or maybe all three but you need to have several conversations with someone in order to sort this out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:16 PM on March 30, 2007

A man must confide in one of his fellows. You can't blame your husband for that. The problem here isn't your husband's big mouth, it's this "C" character's lack of tact.

My suggestion: Come to an agreement with your husband that the whole thing is C's fault, then conspire to hit him on the head with a beer bottle. I'll leave the details (brand of beer, strength of blow) up to you.
posted by aparrish at 9:59 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

As many have stated there is a problem here, that true motivations can only be guessed at. I'll take a shot, anyway:

I think that up to recently your history was basically abstract to him. He knew the facts but didn't personally connect them to the person he knew and loved. I think the interaction with C blew that illusion: these things really happened, they are a serious part of your history (as made evident by the fact that you consider them private - and let me stress that is of course a totally reasonable normal wish he SHOULD have just understood, but if he was indeed sort of compartmentalizing your history as an abstract, not really examined fact it might have made his breach more understandable - not excusable, but understandable).

And I think the reactions he has uncovered to your history fall into the same category - not excusable, but understandable. Personally I've never related to men who are hung up on their partners' sexual history - but I understand it, and I think it is often much less about ownership or puritanism and more often about insecurity - do I measure up, am I really special. Wanting to be the only one is unreasonable and wrong. Wanting to be the best and last is reasonable, if permanent monogamy is the goal, and for some men the presence of past lovers creates insecurity about this. His reactions certainly sounds like insecurity.

That being said, while possibly understandable his reactions are NOT reasonable and I don't see how things can be resolved until he faces up to that. It is not reasonable to mistrust your fidelity. He has to let that go. It is not reasonable to hold the pleasure of your sex life hostage to his hang-ups about your sexual history. He has to get over that. And it is absolutely wrong and unreasonable for him to reproach your honesty, particularly about whether you knowingly had an STD and are concealing the fact from him (a different issue is whether you might have something asymptomatic that could cause problems for one or both of you - that's worth thinking about and dealing with).

If he won't acknowledge these things are false and wrong I don't know that your relationship can survive.

On your side, you will have to find a way to let go of your resentment for him betraying your confidence and to trust him to keep his word not to do so again. He was wrong, but it's done and he can't take it back. I think he does need to acknowledge that it was wrong of him to do so and to say he's sorry for it, I think you need to acknowledge that it was a mistake more than a betrayal - if you got into it with him about the whole it's supposed to be you and me against the world thing, well, I'm sure he felt pretty shamed by that. You let me down, you're not really on my side. Again, yes, you have justification for this reaction but people react to shame in funny ways. And if the base problem here is, as I intuit, insecurity on his part, well, that shame feed into this. Gentle reinforcement on your part - that you trust him, believe in him and feel he is on your side despite current problems - might help.

I confess I relate somewhat to the "he needs to get over it, and fuck him if he can't" style advice, because I do think this is largely his fault and his problem. My problem with it is that I don't think he'll be able to without your help, and it doesn't sound to me like you want to write this marriage off as a bad deal just yet. That means you will have to be the bigger person.

Again, I don't think you will make progress until he acknowledges certain things: that he doesn't have rational reasons to doubt your faithfulness or honesty. I think you need to be sure you are communicating as clearly as you can the specific things he is doing and saying that are hurting you and the fact that they are hurting you. I think you are going to have to be patient and give him some ongoing reinforcement of your feelings for him and belief in him while he works through his feelings and emotional conflict. I suspect he wants to believe he is above being so affected by your history and, discovering he is not, he is inventing these scenarios that make it your fault rather than his. I think there is a decent chance he can come to terms with that, but I do think it will take time and maybe professional help. You can give him time and patience and understanding. What you can't do is ignore the facts of your essential innocence or compromise about his ultimately acknowledging them. If he really won't come around I think you really do need counseling. If you can't work this out through talking, and if it isn't getting better over time, then either he needs to accept that and join you in getting help.
posted by nanojath at 9:18 AM on March 31, 2007

To answer your question anonymous... it depends on what kind of man your husband is.

So far, from what you've written, he seems rather immature. Telling friends what is private between yourselves is pretty immature, to say the least. Not quite what one would expect of a husband-wife team against the world. What was he thinking by telling his buddy¿ Unreal. Is he vying for a medal from his buddy¿ A notch¿ Why. What's with that¿ Some odd contest¿ I'm baffled why he would out his dearest wife's private thoughts to some...buddy¿ The mind reels. Wow.

This lack of judgement and bending to peer pressure or trying to make himself 'da man' in his buddy's eyes is wack. It's passive aggressive because he does have an issue with it now and that disclosure to his buddy is a 'getting back at you' in his mind for some reason. He may feel wounded, but instead of discussing it with you, he does this¿ Not good. He needs to refocus on what is important to you, that you're up front and honest and you expect it from him. Not blame, not accusations. Got an issue¿ better discuss it with you firstly, because it is about you both.

You've been around the block, and have dealt with your past and you know what you want and are moving forwards. Seems like your husband has not been around the block, quite. Being upfront about your past and his reaction Now to it, tells me he is beginning to sense the size of the block, the one he hasn't even been around. His single digits experiences haven't been varied, I dare say.

He is going to have to show some balls. Some backbone. So far, he hasn't exhibited that in the least, from what you write.

Those sewing a double Scarlett letter on anonymous should not be surprised some have had more varied experiences and different appetites than yourselves, period.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander is still not understood among many.

I admire your guts anonymous. Don't let others shit on you or tell you otherwise.
posted by alicesshoe at 11:00 AM on March 31, 2007

An earlier poster said:

Part of the problem here is that you aren't being realistic about how you two should think about your past. You had (give or take) two hundred sexual partners. That's off the charts. What you want is for your husband to be "cool" with that, "shrug it off" in a "non-judgmental way" and think it's "no big deal."

Hold on there, pally. The OP admitted she had an addiction--i.e., an illness. She's not implying her behavior was normal or healthy. She feels her promiscuity was a reaction to the social rejection she experienced early in life, that it was a symptom of despair.

Anonymous, my heart goes out to you because your story reminds me of my own tsurris around similar stuff (Yiddish word meaning trouble, but trouble just doesn't convey what I want to express here). I'm rooting for you and your marriage.
posted by frosty_hut at 11:52 AM on March 31, 2007

I see both sides here. I would be hurt and surprised in your shoes...and, if I'm honest with myself, if I found out my husband had a history like yours, you can bet I would've mentioned it to my closest girlfriend. Is that wrong? Probably. But man, I think I'd need to process it and sometimes you can't really process ambivalent feelings with the person you have those feelings about. I'm also curious about whether this is something your husband knew about/was told when you were casually dating, or was this clearly communicated to him in the "sacred marriage secret, this may never be revealed" sorta context. It's easy to have something like this escalate...I would agree with previous posters that it sounds like neither of you are as cool with this as you might have presented to each other, and this might be a time when a little therapy could go a long way. Best of luck...
posted by purenitrous at 3:56 PM on March 31, 2007

I don't think he was ever totally OK with your past and that is normal--it should come with the territory with every relationship you will have because you want someone who does care that you are true to him.

I'm sure he felt he had to bounce that stuff off his friends and ask them if it was a good idea because of your past. He would have been a fool not to--he's a human being.

Here's the thing, you two are going to need to work it out together. If he doesn't want to do therapy, try some books like those by Albert Ellis or David Burns. They are therapy in a book.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:21 PM on March 31, 2007

Treepour covered my first thought. Ynoxas raised interesting points I hadn't bothered to consider. Fact - men gossip. Are you hurt by the subject or the act? A husband incapable of deception could be veiwed as a humorous blessing.

After High School you had a point to prove. Sounds like you had a kick ass time doing so. They had to drag you away kicking and screaming. You've emerged victorious, others don't survive be proud. Don't ever let anyone destroy that for you!! Save your shame for those deserving of it.

Had you experienced life after High School differently... well who knows. But just as we don't need to know how hot dogs are made just that they are disgustingly fabulous. Perhaps a husband need not know and just indulge.

Numbers are obviously important to you. So reverse it, savor that thought until it wraps around your heart and kicks you in the gut. Unrepentant sensualism and a sweet pure love both speak for themselves but together? Terrifying. Perhaps just be a gracious winner.

He is going to have to grow the fuck up though. You can eat your hotdog and enjoy it or there's tofu and lentils if you prefer. But either way pick one and shut the fuck up.

I'm blunt I know but real fairytales always have trolls.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 9:04 AM on April 1, 2007

I didn't read everything, so someone may have already said this.

This is what it looks like to me:

1. He told C about your past in a conversation--not necessarily in a "Dude! You're never going to believe this!" way, but probably in more of a "Oh, I know--when [wife] told me she had slept with 200 people, I was shocked...but we worked through it and blah blah blah..." way.

2. C freaked out. "Dude, your wife slept with 200 people? Isn't she dirty? Didn't she catch something? Didn't she get pregnant 50 times? Did you get all their names? What if you work with one of them and don't even know it?"

3. This made your husband freak out. This started the problems you are talking about--it scared the crap out of him. Probably made him think about things he hadn't thought of, because up until now he saw you as his perfect fairy tale wife, and then C made you look like the HUMAN that you are.

Talk to him about that.
posted by starbaby at 9:46 AM on April 6, 2007

I don't agree that he betrayed you by blabbing to his friend. There has ALWAYS been a best-friend-exemption from spousal privilege. He was having trouble with it, and he needed somebody to talk to about it. His friend was a clueless jackass for his crack, but it sounds like clueless jackassery is the norm with you three.

A friend of mine dated a girl who literally was a prostitute. His words: "You think you can deal with it, but you can't". People can't control their feelings. They can deal with them, but they can't stop having them. So I'd reject all the "He's an asshole" posts. His feelings are irrational, but they are also normal human feelings.
posted by TigerCrane at 7:46 PM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

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