He's upset I had a relationship with him before

He's upset I had a relationship with him before ...

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Q. I am a woman who has been married to her high school sweetheart for 33 years. During this marriage, there have been ups and downs, but three wonderful children have emerged. As we enter the empty nester stage, we are finding ourselves overwhelmed because there are no more distractions, so all of the unresolved issues are coming to light.

What do you say to your husband when he is speaking about the past, as in before we ever dated? I had a sexual relationship before him, but he was merely obedient when we met. Thats his problem. He asked me, back then, if I loved the other person I slept with, and I said no, but only because of the insecurity I knew he felt. He feels like I lied to him now that we are older. He goes crazy over the simplest reference to any memory before we dated. How do we get past this?

FED UP WITH THE INQUISITION

A. Have you asked him why any of this matters so many years later? I wonder if hed say its the lie or the fact that you had the experience at all. Maybe its all of the above.

If it's about the unknown if he'll be wondering what that first experience really meant to you - it might help to be more specific about details. Not the sexual aspect, but... whatever you think about how your teen brain processed that short relationship and why you call your own husband not the other guy your high school sweetheart. I suppose its possible that avoiding the story has made it more relevant than it should be.

Its possible, though, that his lack of personal experiences has to do with it. What does it mean for him now? What are the things he wants to do with and without you? What are you both comfortable doing on your own when you can?

Also, who else can you talk to about this? Both of you may benefit from counseling to help you learn how to let this go and enjoy each other and your independence - after the kids leave. This is going to be a huge change, and you must be prepared to make new memories, rather than focusing on where you left off before children entered the picture.

Get yourself out of the way. Tell him you want therapy together. If hes unwilling to take the work to make things better, that says a lot about whether or not you can fully empty nest with him.

MEREDITH MARTINH

READERS RESPOND:

His behavior is neither normal nor acceptable. Be firm; tell him he cant speak that way to you. Do it every single time. If he persists, leave for a bit. You must take control of this, and if he doesnt stop his behavior, I think you should separate. People having relationships before they met their spouses is the norm, not the other way around. Your husband is the outlier, and his jealousy is irrational, period.

LUPELOVES LUNTEELEOVE

For some reason, your husband feels the need to hurt you, make you feel guilty. I would say, I cant change the past so Im not going to discuss it anymore. You arent going to use it as a weapon against me. After so many years, you shouldnt be intimidated by your husbands ridiculous behavior. I recommend counseling for both of you and for yourself individually.

SEENITTOO CAN BE SEEIT TOO

Do not engage in the discussion at all. Not his business.

BKLYNMOM, BKSLYNOM, MKYNMO,

Are you kidding me? I was married to a man exactly like that for 23 years. Hes now my ex, and that is why.

SAMSCOTT SAMSCOTT

Send your own relationship and dating questions to loveletters@globe.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein's Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts on your device. Column and comment sections are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.

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