Spouse's Past Sexual Relationships

"I was a virgin when my wife and I married last year. My wife was not. She had several lovers before coming to Christ, and one after. She was honest and shared that with me. She's tried repeatedly to tell me she's broken all soul ties with them. So why can't I 'get over it'? I can't even put into words what I feel: anger, sadness, betrayal, which all seems strange, right, since it was before me? Please tell me what I can do to deal with this."


In answering your question, we are assuming that your wife's sexual history is not hindering her, and that her past sexual relationships have been dealt with and she is experiencing freedom. If it is still an issue with her, we suggest she reads, The Invisible Bond, by Barbara Wilson.

There are 2 things we think you need:

1. You need to have a change of perspective--all of us are broken to some degree: some, like your wife, have obvious outward areas. Others of us have them in our hearts. When we understand this concept, it's easier to forgive, and be forgiving!

You may have been a virgin, but that doesn't mean that your life has been free from sexual sin...

Think about it: what man has not lusted when looking at women--actual or virtual! You are in your mid-30's. Do you realize how many thousands of images of girls may have played through your mind--even if it was only for a fleeting moment?

Jesus said that lusting after a woman is equivalent to adultery in our hearts. Is it reasonable to imagine that all of the women you have "lusted after", even momentarily, might weigh heavily on your wife's mind?

As well, rather than focusing on what you're struggling with, consider what your wife may be struggling with! Is she wondering how much you love and accept her because of her past sexual relationships and your inability to forget? Your wife may not feel sexually confident with you because of her past.

2. You need to adopt a strategy to deal with your thoughts. Fighting them is like playing "tug-of-war" with the devil: you can never win. You must drop the rope! You do that by using the troubling thought (of your wife's previous sexual partners) as a springboard to new thoughts based on Scriptural truth!

When we are dealing with thoughts that seem to torment us, we have to see they are thoughts originating from the devil--the enemy of our soul. He wants to rob, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) the great things God has done by bringing you together with your wife in marriage. These thoughts are the flaming darts the Bible warns against in Ephesians 6:16.

Our response is to lift up the shield of faith! This means you must engage your faith by proclaiming what God says, regardless of how you feel. He says in 1 John 1:9 that when someone confesses their sin, He forgives and washes them clean--and so that is what happened to your wife! She is clean from the past and you have to learn to adopt a strategy that helps you exercise your faith and confess the truth--what God says. This process will result in you being free from all of the thoughts that torment you.

When a thought about your wife's past sexual relationships comes to you, there are 3 steps to follow:

Step #1. Quote a Scripture related to the thought of your wife's past sin and sexual partners, out loud.

Step #2. Personalize the verse, and say it out loud in the "first person".

Step #3. Then pray for an unsaved loved one, again out loud.

OK, let's put the steps into practice now: the thought comes to you...

Step #1: Quote: 1 John 1:9 "If anyone confesses his sin, He is faithful and just to forgive him, and cleanse him from all unrighteousness."

Step #2: Personalize the verse: "Lord, thank you that Mary (put in your wife's name) confessed her sin, and I have confessed my sin, and that you have totally forgiven us and you have cleansed us from all wrong! Thank You, Jesus!"

Step #3: Pray for an unsaved loved one: "And now I pray for our neighbors, Bob and Alice (put in names of unsaved friends or loved ones, but always pray for the same people), and I pray that they may experience the same forgiveness we have experienced. Amen!"

It takes 3 weeks to form a habit. Be diligent to take these 3 steps, and get into the habit of thinking this new way. We guarantee you will be free,and your marriage will take on a new joy!

Comments for Spouse's Past Sexual Relationships

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Oct 30, 2011
helpful verse
by: Anonymous

One verse that helped me shape my heart was, Romans 12:3. "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." (NIV)

Oct 21, 2012
Thank you!
by: JC

Thank you so much for this! I will add these steps into my life and with God's help look forward to defeating my issues. Thank you again.

Dec 05, 2012
Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thank you for these words. I needed to read them. I probably need to reread them over and over for a while. It's not easy. My story is similar to the question above. You find your mind playing things over and over. Hard not to obsess about it. Just is good to know, I'm not alone in this. Thanks.

Jan 14, 2013
Observation on this letter and your answer
by: Douglas47

You seem to equate lustful thoughts with actual sexual immorality. In the eyes of God, it is true. But as far as the marital relationship is concerned, I feel sure that the man upset about his wife'e sexual past would be much happier if his wife had only had lustful thoughts instead of having engaged in pre-marital sexual intercourse.

Apr 07, 2013
Jesus was a virgin. His Bride wasn’t. He loved us anyway.
by: L

I can relate to this. Since I met my girlfriend, she was open and honest and told me that, before she came to Christ, she had numerous sexual partners and lived a life of sexual sin. I am still a virgin and always had the desire to wait until I’m married. We have not yet had the talk regarding the details of her past, and I foresee it being any day now. Since very early in our relationship I have felt that she is the one for me, and we are both currently praying and waiting for confirmation from God. It saddens me deeply to know that there are numerous men out there who shared the deepest and most intimate physical and emotional activity with my potential wife. It is difficult to make peace with the fact that on a physical and sexual level, we will never be able to share each other exclusively. I know and accept that she has a deep sorrow for her conduct in the past, that she had repented of her sins and that God has forgiven her and made her as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18), that He has removed her sins completely (Isaiah 43:25), that her old life is dead and that she is a new person in Him(2 Corinthians 5:17). I do love her and accept her despite what she did in the past, as I am not in a position to judge her. Just because I made myself guilty of a different type of sin before I was saved, does not make me a ‘lesser sinner’ than her, as all sins are equal before the Lord. This does unfortunately not take away the emotional effect that it will have on our lives in marriage in the future. I experience the sadness, anger and frustration of the effect that this conduct is going to have in our marriage almost on a daily basis. Initially I thought I wanted to know all the details of her past in order to enable me to work through my emotions, but I’m starting to feel that it might actually be better for me to rather know only the basics in order to prevent me from over thinking and visualising too much. I’ve read a passage of Russel D Moore that kind of put things in perspective for me. He said “Jesus was a virgin. His Bride wasn’t. He loved us anyway.”
Thank you for your helpful advice, I believe and trust that the Lord will work in my heart and bring me to a place of complete peace.

May 24, 2014
forgive is verb
by: Anonymous

someone said marriage is two forgivers living together. forgiving is a verb. keep practicing it asking the Lord for his help,

Jul 27, 2014
addressed to L
by: douglas 47

Dear L,
I implore you to be 99.99% positive that her past will not be a significant problem in your marriage. If your feelings are, as you described on your posting here, still present in your marriage, you may both be miserable.

Jan 19, 2015
Let the dead bury the dead
by: Estrela

Dear L,

I agree with Douglas. Remember that God forgives and forgets. There is NOTHING impossible for Him. We know what to do, we know the truth, now we have to put into practice :

Hebrews 3:15 ESV

As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

Let us not harden our hearts and fall into the traps of the enemy. Let us use the power that God has given us by His Spirit and through the meditation of his Word.

"Let the dead bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Luke 9:60" For whoever puts his hand on the plow and look back is NOT fit for the kingdom of God" vs. 62

The past has been buried, let us not go back and open the grave in purification or live in recollecting the ashes of what is not worth it. LET us RENEW our minds and think of what is true, noble, right, pure...
Think of the reasons why you got married in the first place - and know that She chose YOU and truly loves YOU.

Let us not let the enemy destroy one of the most beautiful gifts the Lord has given us to reflect HIS relationship with his church : marriage. You are a target, because you are HIs Son. The enemy's job is to kill, steal and destroy your happiness. He will continually use anything that affects you to take your mind off the ONE who deserves our complete attention - JESUS!

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