I have been happily married to my wife for two years. I'm 36 and my wife is 28. We dated for 8 years before our marriage. We did have pre-marital sex. Recently, my wife admitted to me that she had had premarital sex with three other men while we were dating. Two of the men were one night stands (college vacations) and the third was a man she dated briefly while we were broken up for three months. She claims that all of these encounters occurred within the first four years of our eight year courtship.
Needless to say, this disclosure has made me feel hurt and a little insecure. I always believed that I was the only man to ever sleep with my wife. I was her first. Now I feel as if my relationship has been cheapened. I still love my wife dearly, but I find myself just a bit jealous now. I never was before. I have slept with other women, but those encounters were before I ever met my wife. I have never cheated on her. Honestly, I wish she would have never told me. What you don't know can't hurt you.
Am I wrong in feeling hurt that my wife cheated on me during our courtship? Is the fact that she told me this her way of saying she loves me?
How you feel is perfectly understandable. I think almost anyone, male or female, would feel like you, and be worried by pangs of jealousy and doubt.
Just the same, I think that you make the matter worse for yourself than it needs to be, by the language you use. Try and rewrite your letter in neutral language, avoiding words like 'cheat' and 'one-night stand'.
It might read something like this: 'My wife and I have been married for two years. We have had a monogamous dating relationship for four years before that. In the preceding four years, I was committed to her, but she experimented around before committing herself to me.'
If I read it right, your wife was 20 when you first got together. Some people are adults at 18, but many are still emotionally very young. I have had many clients in their mid-30s who had an affair although they still loved their spouse. Invariably, they entered a monogamous relationship while still very young, then 15 to 20 years later they felt they had missed out on something. Temptation came along, and against their best judgment they gave in to an impulse.
Had your lady 'shopped around' before she met you, she might not have felt the need later. This was your situation. You knew you wanted her rather than the women you 'sampled' previously, but she had no such basis of comparison.
In four years, she'd had three sexual experiences. One of them was while she and you had temporarily broken up. The other two were at a time when she was dating you, having fun together, but she had made you no promises.
Then, for six years, she has been monogamous, with you, and she felt sure enough of her feelings to marry you.
I think things are not as bleak as they might appear to you. Perhaps it's fortunate that she has had those experiences, so that she won't feel the need later, in another five to ten years.
Finally, why did she tell you, and why now?
Well, how can I know? But my guess is that she has had feelings of guilt, and wanted to come clean. It took her six years to work up her courage, and she must feel secure enough in the relationship to take the risk.
So, I don't think you need to be afraid of losing her, or having her engage in casual sex with strangers. At the same time, I suggest the two of you keep the romance alive by regularly doing the kinds of things you did while dating. Don't settle into a boring routine of taking each other for granted. Her confession should at least have that benefit.
All the best,
This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com