My husband won’t talk about his past

Dear Guys
My husband, whom I have been married to for five years—we have two children—and I, are happy. But there is something that is niggling me that I want to resolve. When I speak to my husband about this he just clams up.

He split up with his ex four years before we met, and he had a difficult time with it. He always told me the reason they split up was a mutual decision, that she moved for career purpooses and since he didnt want to go, they parted ways. However, I have always felt that there is something he is hiding about her. He never mentions her name; when retelling a story, he will edit out any part that contains anything to do with her. ( ie When we first met he told me he’d been traveling and various details about it, but two years later I found he went with his ex.) I thought it was strange that he edited that part out, since I am very open about my past relationships and am not a naturally jealous person.

I’m feeling more and more frustrated about this. I have asked him countless times to tell me why he is so weird about her, but all he said for two years is that he probably hadn’t dealt with it, and he didnt know why he was being so weird. Anyway, last year he finally told me they split up because he was phoning sex chat-lines. I still don’t know why he hid that from me, since he knows I’m cool about that sort of thing.

That said, I feel he is still holding back. And he looks guilty, every time her name is mentioned. I just know there’s something else. My fear is that he still has feelings for her. He will not speak honestly to me about it and I don’t know how I will ever know the truth.

Please help!

Z

Dear Z,

Thanks for your question, and donation. We do appreciate it.

We understand that you’re an open sort of person, and that you’re comfortable revealing everything about your past. But clearly, your husband is not. That doesn’t mean he’s hiding something from you that could completely change, or threaten your relationship. It just means that he prefers to keep the past the past. It also means that he doesn’t want to tell you about this woman for fear of upsetting you, or putting worries into your head, worries that don’t need to be there.

We don’t doubt he still has some feelings for her, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be with her instead of you. It could just mean that he remembers her fondly, since their breakup was less about incompatibility, and more about bad decision making on his part. He probably feels some regret over his actions, and might even wonder about her, and what she’s up to.

All this is pretty normal.

Think about it. Yes, you have a happy relationship. But it’s probably really busy and stressful, since you have two kids, careers, responsibilities, and not enough time. He doesn’t want to trade what he has, but what she represents is a simpler time in his life, a time when he could be selfish, and do things at his own pace. A part of him misses that time. (Don’t we all? Just a little.) It’s easy to daydream when you come home dog tired, worried about paying bills, wishing you could sit in front of the TV and veg out, but instead, you help the kids with homework, put them to bed, do the dishes, pick up all the kids’ crap, and then fall asleep, then wake up too early, drag yourself out of bed, and do it all again. Day in and day out.

He may not even realize that he feels this way. (Depends on how introspective and self-aware he is.)

Our advice: We suggest that you try to talk to him about this issue. Try to make the discussion non-threatening. Reassure him that it’s less about you being jealous, and more about you being curious. And that you really want to know about his past. Be ready for him to say, “Why does it matter?” If he counters with that,  just keep telling him, that it just does, but also say, that no matter what he says, you’ll love him. Hopefully, he’ll open up to you. (A cool beverage might also help!)

Start there, and see how it goes. But really Z, remember, he’s with you, not her. He’s chosen the life he has.

Take care,

THE GUYS

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