The Past

How do you let go of your spouse's past? Especially if someone that he may have been intimate with is still in his life (the girl is one of his brother's good friends...he does not communicate with her). My past is not pretty and I feel terrible holding onto his when he has let mine go. How do I let it all go?
Kerrie

 

Kerrie,

Thank you for this question, unfortunately it is not an uncommon one.

I need to be extremely clear, you have suffered an injury even though your spouse was apparently not married to you at the time and therefore has not broken his vow with you.  You are not absolved from your responsibility to heal, but you must understand that an injury has occurred.  That injury occurred when you learned of that other woman.  It seems to me there are two facets to deal with: 1) you suspect (?) that she was intimate (sexual or otherwise) with your spouse, and; 2) that woman is still in his life, even if only tangentially

Some speak about the idea of soul ties, a sort of spiritual connection; they make the case that the bible speaks of soul ties.  For example, 1 Corinthians 6:16 says “do you not realize that anyone who attaches himself to a prostitute is one body with her, since the two, as it is said, become one flesh.”  There is something mystical, something spiritual about the tie between lovers.  I suspect that your mind believes that your spouse has such a soul tie with this woman.

What to do?  I wish there was a simple pill or incantation, but past ties must be dealt with thoroughly.  This means that you and your spouse should not fear discussing this; not aimlessly, but with the purpose of breaking all past ties.  I suggest rigorous honesty which may need to be facilitated by another, perhaps a minister or other trusted counsel.  The honesty must be rigorous, but gentle and certainly not brutal.  For example, you can’t go through life wondering if your husband has been sexual with that other woman, but you don’t really want to know about passion, positions or promises.  If something happened in the past, it is in the past; we must break the connection; once that is done, we are free of it and of the psychological tie.  This is a two-way street, you must be rigorously honest with your spouse.  Once you have had full disclosure, I recommend that you go together to confession (one after the other) to ask the Lord to put these ties behind you.  Additionally, if your pastor or another minister in your church has helped you walk through disclosure, he may have recommendations for you as a couple.  Your spouse can’t break his relationship with his brother, but he must (and you must) get rid of any remembrances of any past person.  This includes any vows, oaths or commitments; disavow them forever.  He must also, at least until you are healed, avoid any situation which could put him in contact with that woman

It is unlikely that either of you wants to talk about past sins; why would you?  In many situations I might recommend deciding against such past disclosure, but in your case, those soul ties haunt you.  I suspect that it’s not just your spouse’s past but yours which haunts you and that you wish to be free of it.  Honesty is paramount, make an agreement with your spouse that you wish to be free of any past encumbrances and that those past sins will not separate you; it is so easy to justify ‘a little lie’ or to hold back an important detail but that will haunt each of you.  I have met with many married couples of 20 or 30 years who still struggle because secrets were kept when honesty was requested

Additionally, you will struggle when (if) you find out he had a sexual relationship with that woman prior to marriage.  The initial pain will be searing; it will want to stay with you because this is (more) trauma.

Two conditions must take place for you to heal,

1) your husband must care for and support you, and;
2) you must work diligently on forgiveness.  Forgive out loud, forgive both your husband and the other person.  Try this: when no one else is around, place two chairs facing a third; place the two about a foot apart from one another and about 3-5 feet away from the third chair.  Sit in the chair facing the other two chairs.  First, forgive the other woman, she is in one chair.  Do this out loud, unconditionally and with conviction because Jesus is sitting in the other chair.  When you have forgiven the woman, ask Jesus to bless your vow of forgiveness.  Take a break and notice that you should feel lighter in spirit.  Next, switch the exercise by putting your husband in the place of the woman.  As you did previously, forgive your husband unconditionally and with conviction; believe it!  And then ask Jesus to bless your forgiveness.  As happened with the first part of the exercise, you should notice that you are lighter in spirit.  But here’s the thing about forgiveness, you must forgive every day it bothers you.  Don’t be concerned if you wake up one morning and you feel insecure about it again, just repeat a forgiveness exercise that works for you.  Forgiveness is not about the other person, not in the least.  Forgiveness is about the state of your own heart; you must own it completely which is why, in this exercise, you are asking Jesus to bless your forgiveness and making sure that you aren’t blaming the other person.

BTW: there is and added benefit to this work; learning forgiveness is one of life’s essential skills!

Please let me know if this helps.  Thanks.

Ron Kaufmann, MA, CO LPC #11336, EMDR Certified Therapist
National Certified Counselor #267299
AASAT Certified Sexual Recovery Therapist