One of my favorite bloggers is Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum. I have found her wisdom about marriage and sex to be well-balanced between God-honoring and reality. Yesterday, after I posted about dealing with my jealousy over the husband’s past, she posted a question from a reader. What a weird coincidence!
”I’m a virgin and I always wanted to marry a virgin. The man I’ve been dating, though, only became a Christian recently and was VERY promiscuous before. If I ask him for a number, he just gets sad and says, “you don’t really want to know.” I really love this man and God has changed him, but I don’t want to live the rest of my life wondering about all those other women. Can you really get past this? Will I be able to marry him and not always think, “I wonder what he did with THEM?” What would you tell her?”
Where, oh where, do I begin?
Dear “dating the non-virgin” virgin,
I saw your question and my heart started to beat. Fast. I know the answer to your question. Oh too well.
I met the husband when I was a senior in high school, he was a college graduate starting a career. I had grown up in our religion; he had not. I had been told that I wouldn’t marry, but if I did it must be a “body” boy. He was anything but that type of a boy. I knew before we started dating that he had previous relationships. I told myself that it didn’t matter to me. If anything I romanticized his relationship to a state of idolization. I told myself that I was the one who would heal his broken heart. I was so very wrong. I asked him to tell me details which I instantly regretted. What he told me made me incredibly jealous and pierced my already insecure heart. I became convinced that I would never have his heart and therefore would not give him mine. Our relationship struggled over 20 years dealing with the aftermath of my curiosity and his lack of discernment. It wasn’t the ONLY thing that caused us problems, but it played a big part.
Here’s my advise for letting go of his past:
Don’t ask him for details.
Aside from discussing whether he has a STD (or children), don’t ask details. Don’t ask for names, for places they went, songs they listened to, dates they went on or how much their families got along together. Whatever you do, don’t ask him why. The answer to that question will haunt you. And don’t let him tell you. Tell you things you can’t forget and don’t want to remember. The relationship between him and her did not involve you. It is NONE of your business. Bringing that relationship into your relationship, will harm it. Not beyond repair, because Abba can always redeem, but you’ll endure days of unnecessary heartache. I repeat, YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. If you struggle with this, seek professional help.
How important is “virginity” to you?
I didn’t grow up with the purity culture that idolizes virginity, but I know many who did. You meet your true love after a lifetime of not thinking about sex, not wanting sex and not having sex. And you discover that he too went a lifetime of not thinking about sex, not wanting sex and not having sex. You saved yourselves for one another and on your wedding night you give each other your gift. And you know, that would be a lovely idea, if it was what TRULY happens. But it’s not. That story is rare and I’m afraid most people set themselves up for heartbreak.
How important is this to you? Is it important enough that you’ll spend every day of your marriage disappointed because you didn’t get what you always wanted? Will you blame every problem, every failure, every struggle on his past, because he did not “save himself for you?” Does his lack of virginity make him less than whole in your eyes? If you answer yes to these questions then you need to end this relationship. If your standard is virginity then do not lower your standard. You will make yourself miserable.
Do you need to forgive him?
You received lots of advise yesterday. A lot of people said you needed to forgive him. I find that idea entirely ridiculous. Forgiveness needs to happen when something was done against you. NOTHING was done against you. YOU had NOTHING to do with what he did before he met Jesus and met you. Your boyfriend’s past does not need to be forgiven by anyone but Jesus and possibly the women he hurt. YOU have nothing to do with this. I cannot repeat this enough, perhaps because I am just now realizing this myself.
Why didn’t he save himself for you?
The most maddening question I asked my husband was why he didn’t wait. His response “Because I loved her.” You DO NOT want to hear your husband say that. And really, that’s the question you want to ask. You want to know why YOU are not worth waiting for.
This is where I find the purity culture dangerous. When we find our worthiness in virginity we lose the best part of ourselves. When the gift we give our spouse is our virginity, we lower ourselves to a commodity. I am a believer in waiting for marriage, but I have seen more people hurt over this issue. I know a couple who didn’t kiss until their wedding day and have a very unhealthy, unhappy marriage. I know a couple who married after divorces and have a very happy and healthy marriage. Virginity is irrelevant to the long-term health and happiness of a marriage.
Here’s what I want you to know. You are worth more than your lady parts. You are worth more than a temporary biological state. You are worth your soul, your heart, your mind. YES, he didn’t wait for you, and he has reasons, but you ARE worth enough that he’s pursuing you, to choose YOU to be his love, his heart, his wife for the rest of your lives. Isn’t that worth more than a one-time event on your wedding night?
What can I do to forget his past?
I recently asked Abba to help me with this. 24 years is a long time to carry needless hurt. Know what he told me? “Let it go. Love the one who stands before you today. The one who chose you. The one who wants to see you when he opens his eyes and when he goes to sleep. Let. It. Go.” I know it’s not easy. Time will heal things. As you grow into a love, a love that lasts a lifetime, you will forget the past. And you need to let him forget his past. As my wise friend told me, “He’ll tell you once. And it will be done for him.” He’s let it go. It’s time you do too.
I hope you will let go of what you thought will bring you happiness and embrace happiness that could be yours. I hope you will see the man who he is today and not the man he was yesterday. I hope you give love a chance to surprise you.
A wife who learned her lesson the hard way.