Q&A - Struggling With My Partner’s Past

I received this email from a concerned young man. It is a question I’ve received a few times, so I thought it would be helpful to share my response here.

Question:

I met my fiancée almost a year and a half ago and hit it off immediately. I found her to be kind, gentle, caring, fun to be around, physically attractive, and intellectually stimulating. We shared similar values and ambitions from an earthly and spiritual perspective.

We've had a really hard conversation about past relationships when we were dating. She told me that she had lost her virginity and fell into that sin multiple times afterward. The last time she fell, it all dawned on her, she immediately repented and confessed, and since then, she has not fallen again— this was years ago. I’m a virgin and have been waiting for marriage.

I appreciated her honesty, admired her repentance, and believed that the change she made was for God and not for others. I prayed about it, sought guidance, and decided to continue the relationship.

Thank God, we have set our boundaries, and while we sometimes falter, there's a clear understanding and shared ambition of purity that we believe we will achieve.

I'm emailing because while logically I can see that I'm in an extremely healthy relationship with an extremely beautiful, pure, God-fearing person, sometimes I struggle with her past. It upsets me to think that she has given herself to other people and that this might take away from the beauty of our wedding night and our sex life in general.

I know this is not an easy question to respond to. I'm coming to you out of desperation because I really feel like I can't speak to anyone about this and I just wanted to hear a different perspective on how I can better make my peace with this situation.

Answer:

Thanks for being so honest, I can tell this is a heavy thing you're struggling with, so I pray this answer gives you some peace.

First, it sounds like you're engaged to a wonderful girl with many great qualities that you're attracted to. I understand that virginity is a big deal, but remember that it is not just physical but spiritual as well. Virginity of the heart is also important. St. John Saba said, "Repentance makes adulterers into virgins."

It sounds like your fiancée has done a lot of hard work to repent from her past and pursue purity again. A repentant heart is a beautiful quality to have— we all sin, and repentance is what brings us back to God. The Lord even said David was a man after his own heart, and we all know about his sexual sins.

Know that God has already forgiven her if she has truly repented and confessed. If the Lord has forgiven, He has also made her new. She might also be struggling with guilt and shame from her past, so try not to add to it.

I can understand why you're struggling with what your wedding night and sex life will be like. Will there be struggles around this in your marriage? Possibly. Sex life in marriage will always come with struggles, whether you're both virgins or not. It’s something to be worked on like every other area in marriage. The struggles will look different for everyone and vary in degree of difficulty. But don't underestimate the power of God and His grace in helping you get through this. Also, some marriage counseling in the future might be beneficial if you both feel like you need guidance, there is no shame in asking for help.

So you have to ask yourself this: is my fiancée and my relationship with her worth this struggle or not? And if the answer is no, you need to be honest with yourself and her (and it’s okay if that’s the choice you make). If the answer is yes, it is worth it, then ask for God's peace, comfort, and strength as you move forward.

But the fact that you’re reaching out and are willing to wrestle with this idea tells me that you might be the right partner for her.

Praying for you guys!