A Letter to a Former Lover

I saw my “first” the other day. I’ll be honest: It rattled me. We merely traded hellos.

But you see, I am still embarrassed by my past at times (My Personal Testimony). God has given me a clean slate and blessed me with wonderful intimacy with my husband. Yet I recognize that my past choices had consequences in my life and the lives of the guys involved with me. I have wondered what I might say to a man from my past who knows way more about me than he should. Perhaps some of you can relate.

Mailbox

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Dear Former Lover,

When people ask what I would do over in life, one of my first answers is my premarital sexual history. I wish I could have a do-over for that moment when I sat in your car, kissing you and thinking somehow this time I would say no to doing more. I didn’t. I succumbed in the moment to my hormones, my physical desires, my emotions, whatever.

I had no exit strategy, no escape plan, nothing more than a pipe dream of saying “no” when it counted. You didn’t either.

I cheated myself and I cheated you out of what God desired for us sexually. When you finally met the love of your life, she wasn’t your first. My husband wasn’t my first either.

Try as we may, we cannot entirely forget the sexual experiences that preceded our marriages. I remember. You remember. And how I wish I could take all of that back!

God has forgiven me. I know that in every fiber of my being. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 has given me great hope and comfort:“Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” My past is what I was, but through Jesus Christ, not any longer. My husband and I have a beautiful intimate relationship, and I am blessed to have a fresh start and a healthy sex life.

Yet I wonder how it would have been if you and I hadn’t gone there. What if we had gone to the pizza place instead of parking in your car? What if we had watched a movie instead of making out? What if we had merely held hands and kissed? What if we had a chance to do it over again? Would we resist?

I would like to think we would. I would like to believe that we have not only aged but have gained some wisdom. I’m sorry that I was so flippant back then about your innocence, your virginity, your sexuality. The reality is that I can’t take it back, but I pray that your life has been wonderful and will continue to be. I pray that God has renewed you and your wife so that you can enjoy the fullness of His blessing of marital intimacy. And I pray that we can teach our children that — while we didn’t get it right — waiting to be intimate with your spouse is extremely hard and totally worth it.

One more thing: Thanks for the flowers. Now that was a perfectly wonderful, young love thing to do!

J

If you have a less-than-perfect past, what would you say to a former lover? Do you still feel guilt, embarrassment, or nervousness when you consider these relationships? Have you encountered former lovers face-to-face? What in your sexual history do you wish you could do over again?

One quick note: Stu & Lisa Gray of Stupendous Marriage announced the Top Marriage Blogs of 2011 List. Click HERE to see the winners. Congratulations to them all!

21 thoughts on “A Letter to a Former Lover

  1. Anonymous

    how beautiful way to clean and heal !! either you might deliver or not a letter like this, I think writing something like this down, would set us free somehow. Most of the time we don’t know what to say to former lovers we encounter… no need to say a word.

  2. J

    Actually, I would not send this letter. But it is helpful to think through these issues. I have thought about apologizing to certain people, but it could disrupt their current relationships and would I merely be doing so to make myself feel better? Instead, I have prayed for them. God can intervene and call me into the game plan if needed.

    Thanks.

  3. Anonymous

    J, thank you.
    I’m married to the most wonderful man in the world. I love him & the closeness we share. “Try as we may, we cannot entirely forget the sexual experiences that preceded our marriages.”

    I do wish I could forget or undo the past and I can’t. Unfortunately, my past greatly affected my intimacy with my husband when we were newlyweds and still has some effects today. When we were newly married, all I could think of was my ex, especially during sex. I openly shared my thoughts with my husband and he was very loving, patient and understanding. I’m doing much better now as I find myself thinking of my ex less and less as time passes. However, there are things I wish I could permanently erase from my mind. Here & there, sometimes I’ll find myself comparing my husband’s penis to my ex’s (ex’s was larger) during sex & feeling disappointed that I’m not being “filled” as much as I was during missionary for instance and subsequently changing to “doggy-style” to get the pleasure I know I’ll get from that position instead.

    I’ve often thought so much of my ex that I would call him on a blocked number just to hear his voice. I understand how WRONG that is & how detrimental that can be to a marriage. I told my husband each time it happened. (He was sympathetic that I felt the way I did and told me he sometimes wanted to call his ex as well to hear her voice. That helped me feel “normal” and I know he understands what I’m going through but I don’t think he quite knows how to help me). By the way, I no longer call my ex to hear his voice. I understand it allows the devil to get a hold in my thoughts & by extension to the way I think or act toward my husband.

    It’s not that I want to get back with my ex. In fact, that’s the very last thing I want. God gave me the most amazing man I’ve ever met & he is a giant step up from my ex. Yet, I feel like there’s a piece of me gone… something very precious was shared with a man before my husband and I don’t know how to completely let go. He was my first (I was his 6th or 7th, who knows!) & we were in a relationship for 2 years. We shared everything with each other in those 2 years and I wish I could go back and erase it all. I know God’s forgiven me and I’ve forgiven myself but I need help in completely letting go & moving on.

    Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT) that we are to focus on “forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

    I understand this in my mind but I need it to translate to my heart as well.

    I want to fully enjoy my husband’s body and sex the same way I did when I first experienced sex. We’re pretty creative (toys, positions) with our love-making and that helps but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Can you offer any advice? I’d really appreciate prayer with this as well if you don’t mind.

    Thank you.

  4. Julie Sibert

    I love this post so much. So honest and real and tender. So true. Such an encouragement.

    Thank you for being you and for taking what you’ve learned in life and using it to speak hope into others’ lives…

  5. Britney

    I struggle with this as well. My husband is very understanding. Although I was his first, we did not wait until marriage. I wish we had every day. I struggle to forgive myself of all this.

    Recently my first committed suicide. I can tell you that even in death that tie we created is unbroken. Although I only had sex with him one time it, the other activities added up. I wish I could go back and tell myself what I know now. The most unfortunate part was that at 13 I never even came close to understanding the ramifications of my actions. I gave away in a half hour something that I would spend my whole life regretting.

    God is helping me to use this to speak to other women and teens to help them make a better choice than I did. Thank you for your blunt discussion with us.

  6. J

    Britney, I’m so sorry about the suicide. How heartbreaking for that to happen to someone you had a connection to at one time.

    I’m convinced that it took me longer to forgive myself than for God to forgive me for the poor choices of my sexual past. I have returned to the verse in 1 Corinthians cited above many times and reminded myself that I am no longer that person. God has cleansed me, and I am whole. I pray that you can feel and believe that over time.

  7. J

    Anonymous – I apologize for taking time in responding. Sometimes when a person’s question is sensitive, I tend to mull and pray over what I want to say before answering. From my own experience, I can say that three things have helped:
    1. Establishing boundaries. You’re right: Don’t call the ex. In fact, I have chosen to forego any contact with past lovers. I also don’t spend alone time with other males. I have other boundaries too. You don’t have to adopt mine or someone else’s, but make some rules about contact outside the marriage to keep yourself grounded in the marriage.
    2. Replacing wayward thoughts with ones about your own husband. Making a conscious effort to push that image of your ex out and replace it with an image of your husband is helpful. It’s easy to compare in our heads, and any thoughts of “I like what my ex did better” (etc.) need to be shoved out. Then, we must retrain our minds to focus on our current honeys – the ones who really love us and are there for the long haul. Meditiate on what you do love about your husband.
    3. Praying to forget. I have said that you won’t forget completely, and I think that’s true. But I spent some time praying that I would forget details. God answered that one. I really cannot remember some specific things that I thought would stay with me forever. It’s like God zapped that memory section of my brain. Thank you, Lord. I’m not guaranteeing anything here. There is no chapter and verse in the Bible that says that God will take away a specific memory. But I prayed about it for a long time, and I don’t remember some things. I do recall others. I think that taking it to God regardless is likely to help you move beyond this difficulty.

    I will certainly pray for you as well.

  8. Anonymous

    Thank you, J. I really appreciate your response and will incorporate the tips you mentioned.

    Have a blessed Christmas & New Year!

  9. Anonymous

    I am convinced when we refuse to forgive ourselves although God has forgiven us, we are, once again, holding God in contempt. We tell God “Our requirements are higher than his, so, even though he has forgiven us, we cannot as our standards for repentance have not been met. Even as pious Christians we still attempt to usurp his throne.
    This is true for any sin, not just ones related to sex.

  10. J

    I will speak for myself to the previous comment. I don’t think my struggle in moving past my sinfulness was “holding God in contempt.” I have heard this argument before. For me, it was simply the emotional pain of what I had done and the negative impact it had. I believed mentally that God had forgiven me, but it took time for that reality to permeate my heart fully. If we arrogantly think we know more about our guilt than God, yeah sure, it’s sin. But for some people – and I think especially women – it’s a matter of moving past it. It takes time to get through the stages of grief, and those of us forgiven of past wrongs grieve over what we have done. Thanks for your input!

  11. themarriagebedcom

    J –
    I am sorry for your pain, but love what you have allowed God to do with your bad choices and sins. What you do here is helping and blessing many, and it is a testimony to God’s ability to bring good from evil.

  12. A friend in Texas

    Britney,

    I encourage you to “break soul ties” with your former lover(s). God inspired me to do this through good Christian books/ godly advice. Claim the cross of Jesus, His forgiveness and redemption, between you & past flames and stand on that. You will NO LONGER BE TIED to anyone but your spouse.

    This is one of the most freeing acts you can do when you’ve had a past. God forgives us and washes away our sins and regrets. This act then frees our emotional/ soul realm from connection with those in the past. If you’re ever reminded of that old broken tie, just let the enemy know (and remind yourself) that Jesus now stands in the gap between you and those past lovers.

    You are free. Praise God.

    Much love,
    A sister

  13. Fawn @ Happy Wives Club

    This is absolutely wonderful. I can relate completely. It was interesting because 8 years ago, shortly after I was married, I received a call from “the ex.” I’d not spoken to him in years, he’d been married for a few years, so the call definitely rattled me. My sister called me because he’d left a voicemail on my parent’s telephone wanting to get in touch with me (their number was listed and he couldn’t figure out another way to reach me). My husband was in the car so I asked him if it would be okay if I called. My ex never knew my hubby was right there with me and I was able to use it as a time to minister to him about his own relationship with his wife and to encourage him not to give up or to call his “ex” when things are rocky. I assured him I keep no contact with any man I knew before my husband so this conversation would not happen again but I was able to “release” him and I think he needed that. He may have been my first lover but my husband is my last. If I could “redo” any area of my life, the premarital sexual relationships would definitely be it. But the blessing is before I met my husband, I’d committed to the Lord many years before that the next man I’d be with intimately would be my husband and I feel as though my past was certainly redeemed after that point.

  14. J

    Fawn – Good for you in setting those proper boundaries. I love your statement “I feel as though my past was certainly redeemed after that point.” The idea of redemption is so wonderful in this area. Jesus indeed buys us back and restores us. Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. J

    A Friend in Texas,
    Thanks for the encouragement to Britney. I did a little research on the concept of breaking “soul ties.” I personally do not agree with the conclusion that a “soul tie” unbreakable by man is formed with sexual intercourse. Yes, I agree that the enemy is at work and that we need to call upon God to help us through the healing from our past.

    But the references to “one flesh” speak of body, not soul (1 Cor 6:16, for example). I do think there can be a spiritual connection with sexual intimacy, but I’m wary to acscribe that to every instance. Indeed, our bodies are homes to the Holy Spirit, but without further biblical support, I’m unsure about the theology presented by the “soul tie” argument.

    I love the way you closed your comment with “You are free. Praise God.” That is indeed where we want to be. I feel free indeed, yet I continue to be saddened about any remaining negative impact my actions had. I think that’s reasonable. I think the Apostle Paul felt free, but I have to believe that the thought of Stephen’s stoning saddened him for a long time afterward.

  16. Bob

    I guess I am weird but I view all my bad decisions as part of who and what I am today. Without them, I likely would likely be very different. In my specific case, if I were to change my decision to sleep with a girlfriend in college, I likely would have left town after graduation and not been there a year later to start dating the wonderful woman who has been my wife for nearly 20 years now.

    I just wouldn’t be the same person today and for all the flaws and faults that I have, I’m in a pretty good place. Perhaps without that relationship in college I would be in a better place but I can’t know that and there is a possibility I could be in a worse place too.

    No, thank you, but I refuse to regret decisions made in my youth that, seen in today’s light, appear as mistakes.

    J, without your past this blog does not exist and people who are in need of your words at this time in their life never hear them. While I may not always agree with your point of view, I cannot argue with the results I see in the comments folks leave for you. So, while I understand where this blog entry came from, I encourage you to remember that without your past you have no experience and no authority to write as you do today.

    You are what the past as made you and judging from this blog, that is a pretty good thing.

  17. J

    Thanks so much, Bob. I think the challenge we have is to let God bring something positive out of the mistakes we have made. I still regret that moment and the negative impact that occurred. But I have experienced redemption in His plan to use my experiences to help others.

    It’s a bit, I guess, like Joseph’s statement to his brothers: “What you intended for harm, God intended for good.” The brothers’ choice to sell their brother was still a sinful one in that moment, but God brought amazing things for all of them out of that decision. God really can turn it around for us. Praise Him.

  18. Anonymous

    First, I want to thank you, J, for being open and honest. No one could ask you to be anything else.

    There are times I think about what I would say if I came face to face with any of the 6 or 7 men and 1 woman I had sex with. Mostly I can easily dismiss most of them emotionally. I believe I would say “hi,” maybe “how are you” and go indifferently about my day. There are 2 I have no idea how I would react to. My first I really don’t feel connected to any more, but how he disappeared into thin air is what I held on to after I let the devastation ebb away. If I saw him, I may be liable to punch him then hopefully walk away. Although, let me clarify, this is something I rarely give any nano of an ounce of thought to any longer. I’m really over it. And thank God for that. My second I think of almost every day. I loved him, but in no way would ever go back to him. There was just something between us that sparked, and I’ve never quite had that with anyone else, except for maybe a little with my husband. I have regretted that the last time I spoke to him, I was so happy to hear his voice yet so angry with him that in self defense I raged at him and then hung up. Soon after I changed my number and that was that. I know that I think of him more when my husband and I are going through certain things, but that’s not the only time. One thing I have realized is that satan wants to derail my thoughts so he reminds me of my past and those in it. The mind really is a battlefield. I care about what happens to my ex, but I care more about my husband and our marriage. I have learned to give my ex over to God. When I do this, I feel more peace.

    I don’t think it’s living in the past if when we look back on something and not think favorably on it. As long as we have control of our emotions and thoughts instead of them having control over us. I don’t believe God ever intended for our feelings to run rampant and be in control over us.

    (Will continue in another comment.)

  19. Anonymous

    (Continued from previous statement.)

    It seems that people have assigned regret over to always being a negative thing. And I don’t believe for one moment that it is always. Staying stuck in regret and never moving forward is negative and unhealthy, but feeling appropriate regret over a sinful decision is, well, appropriate. I regret having sex before marriage- even with my husband. I regret allowing my body to be used in a way God never intended it to be used outside of marriage. I regret the wrong thoughts I’ve entertained- before and also in marriage. I regret taking people’s trust for granted and in turn losing their trust. I regret the heart ache I caused by my many disobediences. I regret a great many things. But I also know that I have confessed and repented. I don’t give my emotions and thoughts over to those regrets any longer. satan does try to use them against me and often, but I have been covered with the blood of Jesus which washes me whiter than snow. And that takes me from regret to freedom.

    The thing with saying that we shouldn’t regret decisions we’ve made is that it takes grace for granted. That statement makes sin seem more like something that we can say about it, “Well it isn’t right but oh well. God will still forgive me so I’m not going to regret it.” To say that if we didn’t sin we might not have the nice, beautiful things we have now places limitations on God and His perfect plan for us. I have a wonderful husband whom I love very much. I also met him through his ex, that 1 woman I mentioned above. (Alert Springer, I know… Like I said, I royally screwed up.) It’s easier to think I wouldn’t have met him if not for her. But I can’t think that way.

    God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts our not our thoughts. He thinks well of us and has a perfect plan for us. Obedience takes us more smoothly to that perfect will. But thankfully God sent His Son to die for us. He gave us a way to still be accepted by Him, even though we still struggle with sin, by offering the ultimate sacrifice for our redemption. Grace is simply “unmerited [undeserved] favor.” In our weakness God represents Himself strong. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. Thank God He didn’t leave me in the muck I deserved to be in. This preacher’s daughter went terribly astray. And it took me years to really accept grace and let it permeate my soul with its comforting peace. I’m so glad grace makes life not fair.

    I sin. I often feel like I’m right there with the apostle Paul when he calls himself the “chief of sinners.” And I have a God who picks me up, dusts me off, forgives me, loves me and calls me His own. Amazing love, how can it be? That’s not just a lyric. It’s a truly amazing wonderment I think of constantly.

    God can turn any situation we choose to put ourselves in for His glory. But He would much rather have our obedience than our apologies.

    “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

    God bless each of you. I pray that we each continue to find the freedom the Lord has for us in Godly marriage.

    Thank you J.

  20. R

    J: “God can turn any situation we choose to put ourselves in for His glory. But He would much rather have our obedience than our apologies.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    This is core of the issue.

    We chose. He uses. No waste. Ever.

    Sure, in hindsight it is perfectly clear I’d rather have not chose. And living with it in the present significantly provides opportunities to be reminded of the cost and to not do it again. However, I can’t do anything about what is done. I’m just glad he does use it. I pray he uses it because that may be the only way to redemption – to be open to him using it. To be closed is to harden my heart, to choose death (see reading below).

    Yes, he would rather have our obedience, but on the other hand we are fallen. We can only be obedient in the present or the future.

    Sure, I’ve done a pile of things wrong. Why just yesterday … 😉

    I guess I’d rather be guilty of taking grace for granted than forsaking grace completely, to accept my fallenness so he can work rather than continue to use it as a club to pummel myself. I’d rather have to rely on grace because I tried than beg for mercy because I didn’t.

    As today’s readings said:

    “I have set before you life and death,
    the blessing and the curse.
    Choose life, then,
    that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God”

    Seems like some disjointed thoughts, but then I am adhd. Sigh. Maybe even harsh. Maybe it’s my guy thing. If so all I can ask is forgiveness and understanding.

    Great post and comments. definitely seeking the master’s path.

    Keep on keeping the faith!

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