[Two Pronged] She wasn’t a virgin, but I was

'My wife was no longer a virgin when we met...I feel I'm a loser. She’s had two partners, she was my first. I do not want her hymen, I just want to be her first.'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer, 

I hope that you can help me. I’ve been married for 10 years already. I was a virgin when I met my wife. She flirted with me that time, then she got pregnant. I started to love her because of the baby. 

My wife was no longer a virgin when we met. Sounds unfair, right? She confessed she was de-virginized by her college professor. I found out that she also had an affair before with her police bf. She didn’t tell me about this. 

I feel I’m a loser. Her past haunts me. She’s had two partners, she was my first. I do not want her hymen, I just want to be her first. I know it’s just a man’s pride. How can I forget her past? I love my family and I don’t want to lose them. I don’t want to open this problem to her because this could start chaos between us. I feel very jealous of her exes, especially of her college prof.

Sometimes, cheating comes to my mind and I tell myself to look for virgin girl, but I’m afraid. I don’t want to destroy the future of our marriage because of me…this situation is very difficult for me, and painful! Please help me! I love my family. 

Larry

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Dear Larry,

Thank you for your email.

First, I have to confess that I find this whole issue of virginity difficult to get excited about. Admittedly, when seen from a religious angle, it can make sense. There are tribes where coming of age rituals require youngsters to lose their virginity in prescribed fashion, just as there are other tribes (Catholics, for example) which require virginity to be preserved until marriage. When shorn of religious significance however, in a growing number of places in this increasingly secular world virginity is merely something to get rid of as early as possible, making it the sexual equivalent of one’s first driving lesson.

Of course virginity is inextricably linked to such concepts as purity, innocence etc. A man, or woman, may view a virgin as a sexual tabula rasa, and himself/herself as a teacher (if experienced) or adventurers (if both are virgins) boldly entering the unknown together. Other less salubrious alternatives also exist of course, including viewing virginity as a mere challenge, leading to a(nother) notch on the bedpost. 

You do not mention religion in your email and therefore I am presuming that your concerns do not originate from that perspective. Indeed your comment that it is ‘unfair’ that when you met your wife (let’s call her Ana) she was experienced while you were not suggests some sort of competitive element to your problem with this issue.

You even go on to say that you are a loser simply because you have had fewer partners than she has. Yet this is reducing the matter to a question of mere quantity, with no regard to quality or indeed any other measure. Would you also consider yourself a loser if you had had sex with 5 women but only 3 times with each while she had had her two previous partners but 10 times with each?

Yet there are other issues at play in your account. You say that you “started to love her because of the baby” which seems to indicate that you did not exactly fall in love at first sight. Then there is the fact that you are (still?) concerned about Ana’s past 10 years after getting married. Has this been a constant thorn in your side or has something recently aggravated the situation? If the former, why did you marry her, knowing that at least some of her past was a problem for you? If the latter, it would be good to know what happened.

As for the way forward, it seems that you need to reframe this whole virginity business and learn to see Ana and her past in a different light. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you in this respect and who better than Dr Holmes to explain how that would work for you.

All the best,

JAF Baer

   

Dear Larry: 

Thank you very much for your letter.  While I agree with everything Mr Baer says above, I feel he missed one important aspect: an acknowledgment that what he suggests (while it can be achieved) is not as easy as it sounds.  

Indeed, CBT can help.  In fact, CBT has helped many people and I have discussed its benefits many times.  Let me share 3 links to previous Two- Pronged columns which discuss this, regarding problems tangentially related to yours:

This story about a wife who was a mistress, this story about a boyfriend’s thoughts on his girlfriend’s sexual pastor this story, which addresses the same question you posed: “My problem now is, how can I forget all of this?”

I then discuss thought stopping (TS) which is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique which applies neuroscientific principles to avoid having the same disturbing thoughts running through one’s mind over and over again.

However, while TS helps you control the negative thoughts that keep on going through your head like a never ending tape, TS cannot help you forget your wife was not a virgin when you married her.

Nothing can. 

You are a sentient being with a heart and a mind. You cannot forget things willy-nilly simply because you want to, especially something as important to you as your wife’s non-virginity seems to you at the moment. 

Some aspects of our culture make a big deal out of a woman’s virginity. These aspects focus on the past, with myopic views like: “Ang baso, pag nabasag, ay may lamat na hindi matatanggal” (a glass, once broken, cannot be put together without its cracks showing). 

But other aspects of our culture make a big deal about marriage and the love that bonds husband and wife to each other. 

The former has to do with one moment in time when a penis enters a woman’s vagina, the other, many moments of laughter, tears, and through it all, a love that weathers many things. One has to do with technicalities about sex; the other with the nuances and minutiae that make a life worth living. 

There is no magic pill you can take to forget your wife’s past. Your mind however can broaden its horizons and see beyond an empty cultural stricture to a universal truth: Sex is a 3-letter word that needs 4-letter words to demonstrate its true majesty—care, give, love.

The choice is up to you: do you wallow in your pain, focusing on the past, or do you reach out for the happiness your family deserves, focusing on the present and the future?    

All the best,

MG Holmes

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED.Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.

 

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