Dear Annie: After nearly 25 years of marriage, my wife can’t stop bringing up her first love

Dear Annie: My wife and I started dating a quarter-century ago, and we have been married for almost 24 years. We love each other and are happy in our marriage, though I have one complaint.

The problem is that she often brings up her ex-boyfriend from high school. She has done this since day one of our being together — to as recently as last week. They were together for 3 1/2 years until, in her words, “he broke my heart.” He was her first serious relationship and the first person with whom she had a sexual experience. She compares his performance in bed to mine.

We started dating several months after he broke up with her for someone else. I was her second relationship and sexual experience. So we are the only two serious relationships she has had.

She has told me how he manipulated and pressured her to have sex, and after they had broken up, he raped her. She has said that she was miserable in the relationship because of abuse, manipulation and being forced to do things against her will. When we were dating, she constantly talked about him.

I don’t understand why, after all these years of our being married, she still has to bring up this high school boyfriend. It is almost as if she is reminiscing about it. I could understand when we were dating because we were the only experiences she had, but not after well over 20 years of marriage.

There are also many other memories she finds herself having to share about him. I’m tired of this ex being in our lives. I don’t know why, after 24 years of marriage, this high school boyfriend still plays a major role in her life and our marriage. Is my wife just not able to let him go? Was there no closure?

Am I the guy she settled for because her first love broke her heart? I was the rebound relationship. Does she love him and want to be with him? I’m confused about it all. She has told me she has looked him up on social media because she was curious to see how his life was going. I know my wife loves me, but is her love and desire for this ex greater? Any advice on all this? — Obsessed with Ex-Boyfriend

Dear Obsessed: Your wife suffered a huge trauma when she was manipulated, raped and rejected when she was very young. She needs to seek professional help to process what happened. It is a very serious issue and needs to be addressed.

She is probably talking about him because she is frozen in the memory of what happened to her. Perhaps dealing with the real issue of abuse is too painful for her, so instead she makes her ex out to be a good guy. Regardless, you are correct to be concerned. Bringing up a relationship after 24 years of marriage is a clear indication that something is wrong.

Encourage your wife to seek help immediately, and in the meantime tell her to stop talking about her ex in any positive light. As for your understandably bruised ego, feeling like your wife loves someone else or that you are the “rebound,” remind yourself that actions speak much louder than words, and she has been married to you for 24 years.

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