Q&A: Getting Over the Sexual Past of Your Spouse

A few weeks ago we discussed Letting Go of Your Past and now I wanted to take some time to talk about the issues associated with having stayed sexually pure while your spouse may not have done the same. We have had many people write in regarding this issue and the circumstances have really run the gamut. Some married just a few years. Some married for decades. It has been mostly sad to me how someone can hold something like this against their spouse for so long. There are some sins in Christian circles that just seem to be “deal breakers” when in comes to grace and mercy, and in particular sexual sins really fall into this category. I don’t know why, but within marriage it is even sadder when I read things in the Christian Nympho email inbox such as:

My wife had several sexual partners before we got together.  She is my only sexual partner.  It’s always been very difficult for me to deal with her sexual past.  I believe it’s because I dont really understand it!  I never had any trouble abstaining from sex, even when I was faced many times with the oppertunity.  She was raised in a christian family, and knew it was sinful, etc., but she still led a very promiscuous life before me.

And:

About six months after we started dating and after we had slept together, she told me she was not a virgin. I was crushed with a tidal wave of grief.

Both of these are from men, but women have written us and struggle with the same thing. There are two common threads in these emails which are important to recognize if you are struggling with this same thing. First of all, although the husband or wife is lamenting that their spouse did not stay pure for them, many times they also compromised their purity with them before they were married and had had some form of premarital sex. If you can relate to this aspect, please extend grace and refrain from attempting to hold your spouse to a higher standard than what you have held yourself to. Ask your husband or wife for forgiveness for not honoring them and ask the Lord to restore you both.

Secondly, it is very common in emails like this for a husband or wife to want to know the details about their spouse’s past. What they did. How many times. Who with. Somehow they think it will help them get some piece of mind, but it really doesn’t. I am not promoting that a spouse be deceitful and present themselves as something they are not, but I would encourage you, if you are struggling with this, to respect that a person who has confessed to the Lord and been forgiven needs to have their spouse be their biggest voice of freedom rather than continuing to bring up their past.

I can appreciate how painful it is to know that your spouse has had sex with other people, but really when you don’t forgive them you are allowing the enemy to have authority in your marriage and rob you of what God wants to release for you. Your spouse can not change their past and it’s too easy to allow these things to become idols in our hearts. As well, forgiving them allows you to become a safe sexual release for them. If they don’t have to worry about what you think about their sexuality, they can be free to enjoy the marriage bed you share.

I know this can be a difficult road, but it’s important for the health of your marriage. If you have encountered this and have some insight to share from your experience, please feel free to participate in the discussion.

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