I am not sure if this has been discussed in this forum. It is a rather difficult topic for me to bring up because in my pursuit to become a better man, I feel I need to somehow deal with this in a mature manner so I can ultimately have peace of mind. It is also rather embarrasing. I have done research on what I have been struggling with the last 7 months, and it seems to be retroactive jealousy. In short, this is a term that defines jealousy regarding a partner's past. About 7 months ago, I found out that my my wife has had 25 sex partners in her past. The topic came up while we were doing a book called "All About Me." This book was meant to be a life sharing exercise, but has turned out to be one of my biggest nighmares. If I had known how I would react and how much I would suffer from this, I would have never wanted to know about her number. The most challenging part of retroactive jealousy is the random, obsessive, intrusive and racing thoughts about her past. My imagination gets the better of me.
I am not proud about what this has triggered in me but at the same time I don't beat myself up because I did not choose to react this way. It triggered some core insecurities. Now, I am not sure if any man, no matter how secure, would be completely okay with finding out how many men their woman has slept with. The mind can play tricks on you and make you think that what you are imagining is happening now. It has been said that jealousy is basically a fear of abandonment. Well, that fear has been alive and well the past 7 months, irrational has it may seem, even thought there is not clear and present danger that she is cheating on me. I have been going through the same feelings that would be present if in fact she was.
Has anyone here experienced this and what have you done to rectify and ultimately "cure" the problem? I don't want this to become a life sentence because I surely did not deserve to experience this much pain. I noticed that retroactive jealousy reared its ugly head as my feelings for my wife grew. We were married this past June 25th by the way.
"random, obsessive, intrusive and racing thoughts" suggests a mental condition that should be evaluated by a health care professional
As a woman who had 2 serious relationships before my fiance, but who just posted about my virtus being intact, all I can offer you is: You married who your wife is now.* Who she is now you know and love. Who she is now was shaped by those prior experiences. If it shaped her into the person she is now, they shaped her for the better. My failed romances gave me a self-awareness and maturity that's more important to my future husband than the prejudices and unhappy emotional baggage I also carry.
*You also married her with full disclosure. You married her 5, 6 weeks ago. This disclosure was made 7 months ago.
Excellent call on the timeline.
If you were having such serious angst about her past, you should have put the wedding on hold.
With that said, finding out about that is never really an enjoyable experience for anyone. If you didn't want to know about that, why not skip over the question?
The point though is that whether she had 5, 25, or 100 previous partners, she is with you NOW and given that you just got married leads me to believe that she may enjoy being with you juuust a little bit.
Now if you said she CHEATED on 25, heck even 5 would be some cause for concern, but that is not the case.
As I post below, there's men who look for wives with a certain degree of chastity. They may employ a single standard, or a double standard, but they have a standard going into relationships and marriage, and they're honest with themselves and their dates about it.
The OP may not have had that self-knowledge before the disclosure, but he had three months to work at it before the wedding. If he "does not know who [sic] he married," it's 'cause he refused to find out, not because of any willful concealment or fraud. Burden's on him.
Look, we never know who we or our spouses will become. Right now, I like broccoli, and my future husband does not. He likes seaweed salad, I do not. In a few years, those preferences may flip. And about bigger things. We hope for 0, 2, 3, or 4 children, but I may have the first and decide for whatever reason I can't bring myself to desire a second child. No one can know how they'll react to a very different life circumstance until they're in it.
I don't blame the OP for not having the self-knowledge before marriage he has now (My future husband and I have a big theory that one good reason for marrying is to obtain greater self-knowledge.). But this obsession is either something he should have addressed before the wedding, or it's something new. If the former, he's a cad. If the latter, it's part of that "for worse" in the marriage vows. She hasn't changed in the last 7 weeks. He has.
I'm moralizing you.
It sounds like this came up during a thought-out premarital discussion. This was not, "By the way, sweetie, I've had sex with 25 men, but you're the best. Oh! There's my plane to Timbuktu! See you at the wedding in 3 months!" He had that discussion to ask follow-up questions. He had those 3 months to ask follow-up questions. He didn't. He married her anyway.
Now, it's possible he had no follow-up questions at the time. He was so in love he couldn't foresee this being a big deal. I think that's likely and no moral fault of his own. But now he does have these new concerns and new worries and new questions. I think he can go a long way in helping himself by realizing they're new, and in him. His wife is the same person she's always been. All that's changed is his perception of her. He has new moral glasses, or a part of her old veil has slipped off. With his new vision, he should investigate. But he should do so recognizing he's the one who's changed, not her.
[We haven't applied our theory to a situation such as this. I don't think it will help the OP. As it relies on moral intuition, and you have denigrated my character, you are set up to distrust my moral intuition, and so to reject my theory, so I'm not sharing. When we publish our book, you can read it, if you'se so inclined.]
Maybe it's a process of thinking beyond it. You do have to remember that there was time before your marriage and that things were different for her in those times cause all you seem to be doing at the moment is just throwing all these thoughts towards her, instead, maybe you should be looking inside for the reasons behind those thoughts and fears in the first place. It might be based on an earlier experience that you have yet to move on from that may be blocking the path towards the cure.
You cannot change the past, and if you deny it all, your relationship will be worse for it. Aknowledgement of the feelings you have is important, as they are an absolute for you, and ideally you should talk them through with someone who has more expertise in regards to human emotions and their effects, and formulate a proper plan to get through it.
"And, I would suggest, multiple partners are made because fucking is fantastic. Eliminate the orgasm and your problems are solved."
Hahahaha. I'm sure the world's greatest thinkers, such as Keyshia and Ludacris, would support that statement as well.
On AoM, we believe people can change. That's kinda the point. If this bride spent money instead of erotic capital in her early 20s, but wised up, settled down, and paid off those debts, we'd applaud her responsibility and maturity instead of wondering if she'd repeat those mistakes as a materfamilias.
We don't know if this bride had her wake-up before she met her husband or as part of meeting her husband, but the fact this came as a surprise to him suggests she's a sufficiently changed woman (or he's dense) that she should be applauded for her new fidelity, or at least accepted.
Now, sex is different from money. There's men on here who've had more than 25 sexual partners who still expect/want to marry women who've had considerably fewer. They're misogynist jerks in that respect. But if that's their (double) standard, they've at least got it clear going into the marriage.
And, at what number does a woman become a slut? [haven't read the link] 1 before marriage? 24 before marriage? I suspect people are thinking "one more than mine." But why does the man get to have the higher number, never the woman?
"And, at what number does a woman become a slut?" I can't define it but I know it when I see it. More to your point, I know that many of the men on here who think her past sexual escapes are a legitimate cause for concern would say the same if the roles were reversed and it was a woman worried about her husband's sexual past. If a female friend told me that her fiancee had just confided to her about 2 dozen girls in his past, I'd tell her that this is a serious problem and she has every right to be concerned.
Of course, double standards exist, have existed, and always will exist (world until it ends). That doesn't necessarily mean that those who run afoul of those standards haven't done wrong, but rather that some people are being let off too lightly. It's entirely possible, perhaps likely, that the OP's past relationships and sexual habits could prove a problem in this marriage as well, but that doesn't mean that the lady's won't.
Which brings us to people changing. People can change for the better, but it sounds like this guy needs more detail about how his wife changed and why she changed. Why the switch from a couple men (at least) a year to promising lifelong fidelity? What reasons does he have to trust that this change will endure?