I have been married for three years but I just can’t forget my first girlfriend, who is also married with kids. I am going to become a father, but I can’t forget the moments we spent together a long time ago. I always compare my wife with her and find much dissatisfaction in my heart. Frankly speaking, I still love my first girlfriend very much. Sometimes even during sexual intercourse with my wife I think of her! We are Christians and this fact makes me feel even guiltier about this! I want to break through this struggle. Please help.

Dear Struggling,

It is not unusual to clearly remember a first love relationship years later. I am sure many people struggle with past memories as they begin a new marriage. This is only human. However, to continue in those memories and to fantasize about that old relationship is not healthy or honoring to you or your wife. It is also not honoring to the old girlfriend. The reason you feel guilty about it is that it is wrong to share your covenant of marriage with any other person, and God is reminding you of that. You are right and wise to confess this problem. So many people try to ignore or hide this kind of struggle. Thank you for talking about it. As humans we all struggle with our thoughts and actions; you are no more unworthy of God’s love than anyone else.

The Bible is clear that God loves you and desires to bless and strengthen you. Yes, God will help you overcome this struggle. In the Old Testament, the Bible is clear about adultery: “You shall not commit adultery” (Deuteronomy 5:18). It is one of the ten commandments.

Jesus raised the standard, warning, “You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”* (Matthew 5:27). Jesus is not saying that God is a hard Master, or that God’s rules are unfair or impossible. He is saying that our human hearts are weak, our bodies are weaker, and we desperately need God to show us healthy boundaries for our thought lives in addition to the physical. God is good, and He wants the very best for you, for your wife and marriage, and even for the other woman.

I suggest you bring this to God just like you brought it to me. Confess it. Read the scriptures aloud with Him. Tell Him how it troubles you, makes you feel guilty, how you know it is wrong. Ask Him to help you “break through,” and to help you cleanse your thoughts of the other person so you are free to love only your wife, and think of her only. Ask Him to protect you from any thought or deed that would break the holy covenant of marriage. Ask Him to increase your devotion and commitment to your wife. The Bible promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

You must also avoid this other woman. Never call her, be alone with her, write her, or think of her. Put her away from your mind, your life, your marriage. That other woman does not belong to you. When thoughts of her come to mind, rebuke yourself declaring that she is not yours; you belong to your wife now. And pray and ask God again to protect you from thoughts of her.

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