View Full Version : Obsession with partner's past

04-22-2015, 02:49 PM
My wife has had 1, yes 1 boyfriend prior to me. Somewhat of a feat in today's word. It was a bad relationship semi abusive and he was a prize dick. She did the usual stupid stuff like going back to him and agreeing to marry him etc even though she knew he was fundamentally broken and had his own cross to bear. Needless to say it broke down again and she left him.

I started dating her whilst she was still in communication with her but they were no longer partners in any way. He would ring up whist I was there and I would remain quiet not to get her in to trouble. She would talk about him a lot, not fondly but frequently as you expect as they'd been together for 7/8 years. Soon after we got together she told him and he was never seen of again except one time when he told her he was moving away.

We moved in together had a baby got married.

The thoughts of her with her previous partner had always been a source of intense feelings from me that I'd keep to myself for the most part. Though I'd not want to discuss any part of her life from the era with him. Over the years it has festered under my skin like a wound that will not heal. Holiday destinations experiences anything they may have done or places that they had been I would avoid and my wife is acutely aware of this.

I want to know what they did together so I ask loaded questions that's will give me the question that invariably I don't want to know the answer to, that will add fuel to the constant warm furnace. Why would I do that?

My wife made some pretty fundamental errors in the relationship. Returning to an abusive cheat. She wasn't the first and heck she won't be the last. However some part of me blames her. How could she have been so stupid. How can she go back to a douche like that but yell at me for an unwashed coffee cup. I go and sulk for days and I'm no better than the jerk who treated her bad in the first place.

I have been to see a therapist and he says that I have an inherited compulsion obsession (some on here call it a variant on OCD though he didn't say that). I cannot get past her past and it's ruining my life. I'm a smart guy. I know its irrational, I know that she's with me not him. But my mind returns there all the time. It can be fine for months buy when this chain of thought comes back, it does so with a vengeance.

Why has it suddenly come back? Why is it there in the first place? Why can't I move past it even though I know it's all irrational? Is it OCD?

My therapist has hypnotised me a few times to no avail and he now says that there is nothing else he can do.

I think that maybe if I leave my wife it will be better for her as she will be free from another person who is punishing her for something that she hasn't done. Will that help I wonder. At least my wife could move on with someone normal and someone that she deserves.


04-28-2015, 01:17 PM
Thanks for sharing your story. I know that was a hard thing to share, because no one else seems to get it, but you are not alone. I have the same obsessed thoughts that haunt me and completely consume me much of the times. I know exactly what you are feeling.

My scenario is similar. My wife was with only one other person as well, but the difference was the relationship wasn't abusive. They just had a good time for a couple years. She always says they had fun until he dumped her. We met in college after they broke up, but I knew him and would occasionally see him around campus. I had dated before, but she would be the first person I slept with. When we were dating i was obsessed about knowing information that I really didn't want to know but couldn't stand not knowing. I would ask loaded questions and make insecure comments. It was like I was looking for her to say something that would somehow make the the thoughts go away. Something that would make me feel better. I know it's stupid and irrational, but it's like a ghost a comes to haunt me and won't leave me alone.

After dating a few years, we got married. Other than this one issue we have a wonderful relationship and I love her more than anything. We broke up while dating about it, but got back together. Looking back, I should have walked away the day before the wedding because I knew then that things wouldn't change. But I loved her so I hoped things would get better for me. It didn't and at times it would be worse. Sometimes the thoughts would come out of nowhere or sometimes they would come from a trigger that reminded me of him or them or her with him. Sometimes the thoughts when we would have sex were so intense it was almost better to not.

I know it doesn't make rational sense and I've tried pretty near everything to change myself. I've seen a therapist to no avail. I've tried medication and meditation but I still resides. I've gone the religious route, but I can't shake it off. I mentioned it to a friend once and he gave the pat answers "we all have a past...be glad she is with you now...just let it go...on and on." I know that those things are true and I believe those things 100%, but it's like a disease in my mind that can't be cured by right thinking. I've tried techniques the therapist suggested, but the tidal wave of thoughts keep coming. Heck if you could remove that part of my brain, I'd sign up. At times I feel I'm borderline insane.

As the years went on, we had 2 wonderful kids and have a great family. We are successful by worldly standards and on the outside things look great. We actually do enjoy being together, but the it still it lingers. We've been together now 20 years now and she is my best friend, but it's still here. I've tried explaining it to her. For years she would get defensive or say nothing. We hit a breaking point a few years ago, and I think she finally gets that it's something I can't control and it's about me not her. I'd like to think she understands but I know she doesn't really.

You said...."I think that maybe if I leave my wife it will be better for her as she will be free from another person who is punishing her for something that she hasn't done. Will that help I wonder. At least my wife could move on with someone normal and someone that she deserves." We have had that honest conversation a number of times. I feel exactly like you that she doesn't deserve this and could do better, but she doesn't want to be with anyone else. She has occationally said the reverse to me that I don't deserve to be like this and I would be better with someone else. But here I stay. I think at this point I've resolved that this is the way it will always be.

I wish I had some answers for you or solutions to help you, but I don't really. I thought maybe sharing my story would help you with yours. It's a secret that no one really gets and no one really knows how to help us get over.


04-28-2015, 02:51 PM

I don't know what to say other than thank you. Whilst I'm sorry that you are going through the same as me I somehow find solace in the fact that I'm not the only one.

Your experiences are almost exactly the same as mine down to the length of time number of children and partners. Maybe our parents took the same drugs at a party and handed down this little gem!

I feel after 20 years it should be diminishing but it's doing the opposite. I mean the feelings have always been there simmering but in the past few weeks it's back to a rolling boil. I'd love to know why. I looked her ex-partner up on LinkedIn(someone tell me why the hell I did that) and maybe that triggered things off seeing the smug knob there set things off again. Then again he's not done anything to me.

Over the years it has subsided and reared its head again and I'm hoping that it will go back down to the depths. I feel pathetic that a grown man with children a job where I fly around the globe giving advice to others should succumb to such irrational feelings.

I suppose that our wife's, irrespective of who they met, would have met men that had something of a quirk in their personality this just happened to be ours and the fact that besides this we are good guys and great fathers.

You have been braver than I. I dare not tell my wife the extent of my problem I'm afraid to tell anyone (wither the exception of a perfect strange on the web) my issue as I will undoubtedly get the same response as you. "Dude you won". "She chose you". And they are all right, of course. But no one will understand.

I say to myself enough is enough. Stop it now you have kids a house the whole deal. Put it in to perspective it was 1 guy 21 years ago and before she met you. I will understand the logic but I can't erase the feelings. I'd do anything to get rid of them.

I get in to bed quietly and turn my back on my beautiful wife and go to sleep because of jealous thoughts from a time when she didn't even know me. That's why I think she'll be better off without me and I should go when my youngest is old enough not to be too badly affected by it all. But then what have I done robbed my wife of the years when she could have met someone who who cherish her in to her middle age and later life. She doesn't deserve that does she, she deserves to be looked after. She chooses her words carefully not to upset me and doesn't mention places she's been with him or things that they had done she's constantly walking around with the sword of Damocles over her head. That is no way to be, and it's my doing.

You have been open and honest with your wife and you should be immensely proud of that. Your wife not only has accepted that but incredibly sought to try and help you by telling you to find happiness with someone else which shows what a catch you have, but you knew that already. I too am accepting of what I've been given, for now at least.

Again thank you for you fantastic reply and I truly wish you and your family nothing but happiness.

09-10-2015, 06:19 AM
I have an update.

I have confessed all to my wife and whilst its been really difficult it has led to some progress, of sorts.

I have seen a Dr and he has referred me to a specialist who is starting CBT at the weekend and is talking to me about starting me on SSRI's. I cant say that I'm looking forward to the drug element of the process or the CBT for that matter as I will have to go through all the unpleasant triggers to try and find a coping strategy.

My wife and I have had a really difficult few weeks and I'm drained. Whilst I don't want the drugs I don't want the feeling to a greater extent.

The one thing that has come out is that I have OCD and have for as long as I can remember. Its so deeply ingrained in me that it is me and I want the monkey off my back. The Dr said that its a 'poorly understood' condition. That doesn't fill me with confidence but I'll try it.

Not sure if you're still looking at the thread but I thought I'd mention.

09-10-2015, 05:54 PM
As a long time ocd sufferer myself I thought I'd add my two cents. I'm not a physician so take what I say with that in mind.

OCD will often make a hell of what matters most to us, individually. Hell, it can make a hell out of trivial things. While it can seem like you are alone in this, especially as you talk to those near you, know that there are resources and support, people who've been down this road. I don't think it'd be wise to call it quits with your wife at this time. At least not until you've explored treatment. If you don't realize it already that won't bring back your peace of mind. It's only hacking at the leaves of the OCD and not the root. It's the focal point of the illness. It attacks what matters to us. If you didn't care about your wife, your OCD would hit you somewhere else. I know you're looking for relief, and telling you to hold on might seem obtuse coming from the guy whose hand isn't on the stove. But try healing and to do that you gotta see your options. Be patient with your wife too. This is new to her. While she might not have suffered as long and hard as you this is still a trial for her. She's stuck by you so far, so stick by her. You owe it to her and you owe it to yourself to try your options. Others have been down this road to hell and back. The anxiety seems like the illness. It's the symptoms. Douse he fire not the smoke. Keep trying, and if you know God pray like you've never prayed even if you're bitter right now. You're in my thoughts bro. I'm late to work to post this, hahaha but I hope you find some peace. Sounds like you've suffered your fair share.

09-11-2015, 12:04 AM
athoming - Thank you for your reply.

You're right it is all new to me and I'm coming to terms with it. Having a name for the condition doesn't help me in the least though I guess it does point to a treatment. I've been encouraged in the most part by peoples experiences with CBT and drug treatments and I truly hope that it helps me. I'm starting this tomorrow.

My main problem is thoughts, not so much repetitive actions though I do have those too. These I cannot escape. I'm on the train right now and I have them on loop an infinitive loop.

My twisted logic says that if I remove myself from my wife it will somehow be beneficial to both of us as I'm removing the source. But like you said I'm targeting the wrong area.

I have a problem with cutlery that has just come to the surface, make of that what you will, and if I throw the ones away then the next time I go to the drawer then I will not have a trigger and I've applied that 'logic' to this situation.

I'm pinning all my hopes on the outcome of my treatment and I've never wanted something more in my life to succeed.

I have questioned my sanity, intelligence, faith and cursed the universe (sorry to sound melodramatic) with this and here's hoping that therapy and drugs are somewhat of an answer.

You were very selfless in your reply not talking about your condition. I hope that it is manageable and that you are keeping a lid on it.


09-11-2015, 03:35 AM
It's going to take time for everything to sink in I'm sure. The good news is by getting a diagnosis your problems didn't increase, just your awarness of them. As you find ways to manage and make it through its good to be positive and realistic. Treatment is probably gonna take more effort then you probably realize. From the sound of your description of few outward compulsions and the years that went by before you were diagnosed that you might wanna do a search on "pure o" OCD, specifically "relationship" OCD. Pure o ocd is particularly stressful as most of the compulsions and reassuring are internal. it's also a major reason it can go undiagnosed so long. Relationship ocd, well I'm sure that explains itself. Because ocd is such a broad term diagnosis and there is so much to take in I suggest you check some of that out. Ocd actually has a lot of common preoccupations. A big component of ocd is a lose of perspective. We know it too, that's why we question our sanity. That questioning is good though. It lets you know you're not truely delusional. But as you read about other guys who've been down similar roads. It can give you the comfort of perspective and dignity as you realize you deal with your affliction. There should be no more shame in admitting a battle with this anxiety than you would with high blood pressure. Ps thanks for asking me if I got it under wraps. Sometimes it's good sometimes I struggle. I'm glad I have a God that is understanding when I struggle and curse the universe. I think he understands. Hang in there bro.