A few months into our long distance dating relationship, Adam and I were exchanging “I love yous” before the end of our daily phone call, when I stopped him and asked, “Have you ever told other girls that you loved them?”
After a brief pause and slow exhale, Adam responded, “Yes.”
My heart sank. I knew Adam had dated other girls, and had even been in a more serious relationship at one point, so his response was to be expected. In fact, that’s what happens when you date. Still, it was difficult to process. Adam was my first boyfriend, first kiss, and first “I love you.” It was hard imagining him kissing, and loving another girl.
A few weeks later we were together, and Adam took the time to tell me about the good and bad of his past relationships. It was painful to hear. I knew it was also painful for Adam to tell me about his regrets. I didn’t know how to respond at first. A mixture of sadness, love and admiration welled up inside of me. All I could do was reach down and take his hand, giving it a squeeze.
In the days that followed we had many long phone conversations about Adam’s dating history. We cried. We sorted through our wounds. We fell more in love. We even grew in our understanding of what it means to love.
I also grew in my understanding of how without those experiences, Adam wouldn’t be the man I loved so dearly, and who also loved me so dearly. He learned through those experiences what he was and was not looking for in his future wife, and he learned how to best love her. It was precisely because of his past that when we began dating he knew “this is different” and “this is it.”
Truth be told, we’re four-and-a-half years into marriage and I still have those moments when I’m tempted to think, “I wish things were different. I wish the past didn’t exist.” But, I know that’s not true. Without it, who knows if we’d even be together or that we’d be as happy or in love. I do know that instead of dwelling on the past, we’ve chosen to be thankful for it and thankful for the marriage we have today.
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