Recently we were traveling down a two-lane highway when we approached a blockade stretching from one side to the other. An entire section of the road had collapsed, presumably under the weight of rising floodwaters, and there was no getting over it or going around it. The only option was to back up and find a new route.
A similar dynamic applies to marriage. Sometimes we may discover a mental “roadblock” that seems impossible to simply ignore, and we must figure out a new route to our ultimate destination: genuine intimacy and sexual fulfillment. One of the most common mental roadblocks to intimacy is when one person comes into the marriage with some things in his or her past that may grow bothersome to the other – they have trouble getting over their spouse’s past. For example, Don writes via e-mail:
My wife and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Our sex life has been good, except in one area. I was a virgin when we married. My wife was not, and I knew this. It did not bother me until after we said “I do.” I began worrying, Am I good enough to make her forget? . . . Will she compare me? . . . Will she have flashbacks when we are making love? Will I meet her expectations?
One day she said, “You’ve never asked me ‘how many?'” She followed up with a number that didn’t help. It slowly festered, to the point where I began asking questions on my own — and I wish I never had! It only made my fears worse, and even had her remembering things she’d tried to forget!
My question: what do I do when thoughts of her former sex partners come lofting into my mind? The advice so far has been: stop playing tug-o-war with the devil . . . you can’t win . . . drop “the rope” (the memories of her lovers). Do you have any extra encouragement or advice?
I’m so glad Don asked this question, because I certainly do have some strategies for helping one spouse get past the other’s sexual past.
First, think about human nature. When we focus on what we shouldn’t or can’t or won’t allow ourselves to think about, guess what we naturally do? We’re all the more tempted to think about those very things. Instead, focus on what you can or will choose to do. There is power in remaining positive. Choose to win your spouse’s trust (believe me, his/her insecurities are just as significant as yours!), and you’ll win their heart as well. Choose to become his/her dream lover, which is far more about tenderness than technique, and I guarantee that all previous lovers will pale in comparison.
(to be continued…)