Should I tell my new husband?

Q: I have been divorced from my first husband, Barry, for more than 10 years, and have been very happily remarried to Don for nearly three years. Barry and I have an amicable, but distant relationship. Occasionally, I have dreams in which Barry and I are back together. In theses dreams, Barry and I are emotionally, and sometimes sexually, intimate. I don’t know why I have these dreams, as I truly do not want to be with Barry, and am extremely satisfied in my current marriage to Don. My question is: should I tell Don about my dreams? I feel like if I don’t tell him when I have these dreams, I am hiding something from him. But if tell him, I fear he will become upset or jealous. What should I do?

A: It is not uncommon to dream about being back with one’s ex-spouse. Dreaming about being intimate with one’s ex-partner may simply be a memory of your previous intimacy in that relationship. If during your waking hours you are happy in your current marriage and are not longing to be with your ex-partner, your dreams should not be viewed as threatening to Don or to your marriage. However, as you suggest, Don may not feel this way. He may feel threatened, or jealous, to hear about your dreams. On the other hand, he also may be having dreams about an ex-partner and may be wondering if he should tell you! So you might ask yourself if you would want to hear about his dreams.

One approach is to bring up the general topic of dreams with your husband, saying something like the following: Sometimes I have dreams that involve sex or intimacy with other people. I love you and want to share everything with you, including my dreams. But I don’t know if you want to hear about these dreams when I have them. Yet, I do not want to feel like I am hiding my dreams from you out of fear you might be upset by them. The dreams don’t mean that I want to be with someone else. I am very happy with you. There might be times that you too have dreams involving other people. Do you want us to agree that when either of us has a dream involving sex or intimacy with someone else, we will share it with each other? Or, would you prefer that we simply acknowledge to each other that occasionally these kinds of dreams occur and that it is not necessary to tell each other about them?”

If you have a preference about what you would like to happen, you could state your preference. For example, if you really want to share your dreams, you could say, It would be my preference to share my dreams with you, but if you prefer not to hear them, I would be happy to honor your preference.” The bottom line is that having dreams about past partners is normal. Whether you share such dreams with your current partner depends on his reaction and preferences. If it is problematic for your current husband to hear your dreams about your ex, and you still feel the need to share your dreams, consider talking about your dreams with a friend or in the context of a dream interpretation group.