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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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I have been married for 19 years. I have never told my husband

Customer Question

I have been married for 19 years. I have never told my husband about the kind of person I was before him or even what I had done when we were dating and broke up. Over the past 2 years I have finally told him all the things in my life that I have been ashamed of. I never told him about being molested by multiple family members. I slept with many people before I met him. When we broke up, I picked up and dated another man and slept with him. I went out with his sister and met and slept with another man in a motel room. I also did this again when I went out with a mutual friend. I also called 2 ex-boyfriends during our relationship, I spent the night with one of them, but nothing happened. I have not done anything since before we were married, and am totally committed to my husband and my marriage. Now because of all of the lies, my husband feels he can no longer trust me, he says he still loves me, but is not sure he can continue to live with me. We are still together now because of our son. Is there any way that we can rebuild our marriage? I do love him, I feel that he has made me a much better person, and would do anything for him.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

I can understand how your husband might be surprised by your actions before you were married. However, you say you have been faithful since you married him. Is that correct?

You also say that he doesn't know if he can trust you because of 'all of the lies' what lies are you referring to? If these occurred before you were married i.e., did they involve not disclosing what you did during your 'break up' period? I'm assuming you have never been formally separated during your 19 years of marriage is that correct?

What did you lie about during marriage counseling?

Have you ever had quality, intensive counseling for the sexual abuse incidents in your life?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes, I have been faithful to my husband since we have been married.

"all the lies" means-not telling him about my past. No I did not disclose what I had done during our 'break up' period. No we have never been formally separated in any way.

During marriage counseling, I lied, I did not tell him anything about my past. I told him these things after he quit counseling.

I have been to counseling 3 separate times for the sexual abuse incidents.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
I'd like to share with you a very important 'golden rule' regarding the sharing of personal information--even with a spouse. This golden rule applies to nearly every situation with children, spouses, fellow employees etc. The rule says, "When I have an urge to tell someone something, WHAT DO I EXPECT THEM TO ACTUALLY DO WITH THE INFORMATION?" In other words, the rule says, NEVER give anyone information they can't actually make very good use of, constructively act upon etc. So let me ask you: In telling your husband about your past----confessing to him as you did, what did you expect him to constructively DO with the information?

Now, I suspect you will tell me you simply felt awfully guilty about your past behavior and felt a compelling urge to 'confess' to your husband. Frankly, if you were not a married 'couple' when you elected to sleep with other men (i.e., during the period you were 'broken up'), it is your private business. My point is, that your need to alleviate your feelings of guilt have NOTHING to do with what is more important----following the golden rule. That is, your guilt has nothing to do with answering the question, "What did you expect your husband should do with the information you shared with him about your past?" Objectively, he could do NOTHING constructive with the information. And, what he did do was not constructive. He has acted in a completely irrational manner. What is irrational is his conclusion that even after 19 years, with no evidence of your infidelity or unfaithfulness, he suspects you might have been unfaithful during your marriage and simply aren't telling him the truth; and he believes you could be unfaithful in the future. WHAT sort of rational thinking is that? NOT. It is of course, completely irrational and illogical for him to conclude this.

Here is one way to try to repair the mistake you made in sharing your early sexual behavior with your husband. (Off topic: Incidentally, do you suppose you told him about your past as a sort of 'test' of him, to see if he would confirm his love for you even given these 'sexual mistakes' you made? If you did so, I would be somewhat concerned about whether you are unconsciously blaming yourself for being molested by family members as well----a most unfortunate and invalid thing to do---to blame yourself!!!!)

What you might want to consider is sitting him down to talk, or writing him a letter; telling him that you told him everything about your past so that [you choose one or more if they are accurate, ignoring the ones that are not accurate]: 1) you could alleviate your feelings of personal dislike for yourself and your guilt over your past actions by 'confessing' your behavior; 2) you hoped that if he knew the actual truth about your past, he might appreciate your honesty and love you all the more for being honest; 3) you wanted to provide a strong model for being open and honest in your relationship, and this was a big step for you----to actually BE a good role model for honesty.

And, if he now, since you've told him this stuff, suspects you have been unfaithful during your marriage or believes he has LESS of a reason to trust you in the future, then you are extremely disappointed in him for using the information you shared with him to draw these conclusions. Indeed, if he decides you may be untrustworthy, then, he is probably NOT the type of man you want to try to build an intimate relationship with and 'grow old' together with. You want a man who can look at actual facts objectively, understand your motives for telling him this information, and actually love you MORE for having shared it.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your original question. I realize this is a complicated mess for you and you feel helpless to fix the mistake you made in disclosing this information. But your husband's reaction is a serious problem by itself, in my opinion. So let me know if I have missed any points you hoped I would cover. Please hit the green Accept button at the bottom of this screen. Thanks.

Edited by DoctorMichael on 1/2/2011 at 3:39 PM EST
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
How do I fix the controversy?
--between sister and brother, When I went out with his sister. Also the fact that she told other family members about what I had done.
--The fact that there were men who he knew that I had slept with but told him I had not.
--all the lies and cover ups. He looks back and questions every time he wasn't around, what I was doing. I had slept over at and old boyfriends house when we were dating and also called another one. How can he trust me now?
--he suggested marriage counseling to make it work and I failed there too. I lied about everything he had asked me there too.
--because of all of the suspicion, which he has a lot of, he doesn't believe there is an end to my lies. How do I prove to him that the lies are all over with, and move forward from here?
--He feels cheated, because I wasn't the type of person that he wanted to marry.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.

If I understand your story, all of the sexual indiscretions you committed were before you married---over 19 years ago. Is this correct? You lied about some of this stuff during marital counseling sessions after you were married, is this correct? So it is the basis of your lying that informs him that he cannot trust you anymore, I trust?

 

If the above points are all "correct", your husband really has just two reasonable choices to make, and you can help present the choices to him. His first choice is simply ACT on his belief that he cannot trust you (and conclude that he probably never will;); and therefore, it really makes no sense to stay married to you. he should divorce you if he truly, deeply believes this. Alternatively, he can choose to stay with you, but ONLY if the two of your lay out a path toward forgiveness and letting the past stay in the past. This means being willing to put the past behind the two of you and never talk about it again---not ever; not during any arguments or future problems. It means reflecting on the past 19 years and assessing whether your behavior has been consistent with that of a faithful wife (not the lying that occurred during your marital counseling), but your ACTIONS and behavior. You've never cheated on the man following the marriage, is this not correct? So he bears the burden and responsibility of deciding whether he wants some peace and relief from his concerns about your trustworthiness, and act 'as if' you are starting over and trying to build trust with one another, much as a newly married couple might. People make mistakes. I suspect he has made plenty of his own, which, if someone had not stepped up and forgiven him for, he would yet be suffering today.

 

Either of these alternatives are worth considering, but the second alternative is much more rational. He may have not married the sexually inactive woman he thought he did and prior to your marriage, you may have acted up during your courtship. I suspect he has no basis for suspicion and no evidence, because there is none. The current circumstance however, with your marriage is completely untenable and 'unlivable' going forward. That is, it makes no sense whatsoever to stay in a marriage in which you are forever holding lies about premarital infidelity over your spouses head day after day, when these things actually occurred prior to your marriage, and over 19 years ago. And, yes, he may have been upset about the lying about your past premarital relationships. But frankly, if he cannot believe that and won't "let it go and move on", then once again, he may be impossible to live with in a relationship, going forward. You really have no marriage. So the burden is really on him to make a decision. If you make a decision to try to put the past behind you, I would absolutely find a good clinical psychologist who does marital therapy to help you out. The last therapist you had acted irresponsibly in allowing a discussion of your premarital past to enter into ANY discussions of any topic you were facing. No interrogations during the therapy should have occurred, such that, you were put in a position of having to decide to lie or not. Anyway, if he decides that he wants to stay married to you, it can ONLY be under the condition that you return to marital therapy with the sole purpose of figuring out what each of you need to be doing today and tomorrow and the next day, to build trust in one another. No discussion of the past, period.

 

What do you think?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your time. I realize now that there is nothing that I can do to change how my husband feels about me. Since I only told him bits and pieces at a time, he will always believe that there is more that I am not telling him. I am trying to understand how I can make it without him, since we have a son who needs 24 hour care. Now I work 3rd shift and he works days to accomodate our needs. Without him, I will have no help to take care of our son & no way to support ourselves. Please give some help on how I can handle these situations.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
YES, I think you've 'got it' now. I need to run to some meetings but will get back with you on this. I realize you are now asking the 'million dollar question' which is, what to do if this man really never changes how he feels about me and I'm faced with 'moving on'. Very, very scary and difficult for you, I realize. So I'll get back with you tonight or tomorrow, o.k.?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
My customer roster shows that this question has been 'timed out'. If you would like to provide a response to my last post, please feel free to do so. Alternatively, please hit the green Accept button at the bottom of this screen so I may receive credit for answering this question. Thanks.

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