My fiancée and I have an absolutely wonderful relationship except one thing keeps digging in the back of my heart. Whenever she mentions past relationships or past experiences with those relationships, I tend to find myself shutting off. I have seen pictures of her and those relationships and every time I see it, it really, really hurts. Is this something that I need to overcome in myself, or is this something that I need to talk to her about?
Of course you need to talk with her about it. If the situation were reversed and there was something that you were saying or doing that really, really hurt her every time it happened, wouldn't you want to know about it?
You guys are soon to be married. It doesn't matter what is causing the hurt; now is not the time to make a habit of stuffing your feelings.
Past relationships are something most couples have to address at some point, so this is not anything out of the ordinary. Just tell her exactly what you told me. Tell her that whatever is irrational about what you're feeling, you obviously want to change, and whatever way she can support you with that will help a lot.
In terms of who needs to change, whether her or you, depends on the details and the context in which these old relationships percolate into your conversations.
If they come up naturally in conversation merely because they are a part of her life, like a vacation she once took or a school she attended, then it just sounds like some historical facts that shouldn't cause much heartburn, and the onus would be primarily on you to explore why the notion sets off some hurt — or maybe jealousy?
If, on the other hand, she seems preoccupied with her past relationships to the point that her current, and soon to be forever, relationship is filtered through the lens of the old, as if those past relationships serve as some reference point, then certainly she needs to work on not fixating on the rearview mirror.
The good and biblical approach to past relationships (and the past in general) is to rejoice over that which was of benefit to your growth in Christ (all of it ultimately is, both the good and the bad) and let God redeem and heal that which pulled you away from the King.
Though he wasn't necessarily speaking of past relationships, I think Paul's encouragement in Philippians is applicable to some degree here.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13b-14).
Paul was referring to the old, sinful nature — the flesh — and all of the ways it manifested itself in past days. He said let's not let the past hold us back from what God has up ahead in Christ. "Wave goodbye to it," is my paraphrase, "and hello to all of the ways God is in front of us."
Together (that word is you and your fiancé's new mantra) the two of you need to cover whatever ground you need to cover about the past. If necessary repent, forgive, redeem, learn, rejoice and then start looking forward to what new things God has for the two of you as you become one flesh.
Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.