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Flee Or Forgive?

Discussion in 'Marriage and Relationships' started by Stopher, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. I am in need of some wise counsel on my new relationship.

    I've been dating this wonderful woman for about 4 months now. As such, we've both been asking each other about our personal history and our pasts in the process of getting to know each other. While I am completely aware and believe that a person is not defined by their past mistakes and we all make mistakes, I have some concerns and fears about hers in our moving forward.

    My girlfriend was baptized when she was 9 years old, but got into a bad relationship which was on/off again for 8 years. During one of the periods when it was off again, she was what I would consider extremely promiscuous. To make matters worse, about two months before we met, she engaged in sexual activity with a man who she knew was married on two different occasions.

    This activity was also combined with heavy alcohol and marijuana use.

    She explained that, following that most recent episode, she was plagued with such heavy shame and guilt. She articulated that she reached rock bottom and terminated the relationship with the married man immediately. She says she was in a fog and became desperate to change her life for the better; that she was tired of feeling bad all the time.

    She says it was then that I came into her life. She says that I am the man of her dreams – the man she thought didn’t exist. While we’ve been dating only 4 months, she has not used marijuana, nor has she been intoxicated (I don’t mind an occasional alcoholic beverage with meals, but am against alcohol abuse).

    She and I have had many discussions over many hours talking about the identity of Christ, what authentic joy and happiness mean, what it means to have a healthy Christ-centered relationship, what we’re both looking at in marriage/family, and much more. I’ve been careful not to ask her leading questions.

    She seems authentic in her desire and intentions, but I can’t help but fear her past may be an indicator of poor future judgment.

    She seems to be displaying all of the signs which indicate she’s changed: guilt, remorse, admission, accountability, etc. I also believe it says something that she was completely honest and forthright to me about her past. She shows a guilty conscious and has even visited with a counselor/pastor friend of mine whom I visit on a regular basis to make sure I am always on the up and up and has opened up to him.

    My question / advice I am seeking is do I accept that people can and do change and that she is someone I can build a future with, or do I take her past (both recent and distant) as warning signs that she is not marriage / relationship material?
  2. One thing to consider is, everyone brings baggage into relationships. Whoever you're with, you're going to have to be their partner through the things they're going through, and they are going to have to be your partner though your baggage as well -- even the baggage you don't yet realize you have, and the baggage you'll pick up along the way. So perhaps, instead of looking for the perfect partner, which doesn't exist, instead look for someone you're willing to be a partner to as they deal with their issues.

    As Christians, we absolutely believe in the transforming power of Christ. The apostle Paul literally made it his life's goal to murder Christians before he found transformation in Christ, and the Christian community was able to forgive him and accept him as an apostle, then he wrote most of the New Testament.

    So yes, do accept that people can change, but I'm still not sure it's really an either/or question. Maybe the most important question you have to ask yourself is: if these problems did come back at some point in your relationship, would you be willing to be her partner though them? I think with only four months behind you, your relationship probably needs some time before you can really know the answer to that question. If you end up talking marriage, I'd say a long engagement period (maybe even a few years, which I think is generally good advice for anyone) would be wise. During an engagement, you wouldn't be testing her to see if she slips back into her old ways, but you'd be testing your relationship to see if you can both be each other's partner through each of your toughest struggles.

    A partner's past is often a tough thing to deal with in relationships, so you have the tip of my hat, sir, for not freaking out about it, and for seeking advice. And her honesty, I'd say, is a great start to your relationship. Just relax, take it easy, accept that you don't have to figure it all out right away, and give it the time it needs for you both to know you're willing to be each other's partner through the toughest times.
  3. I don't agree with long engagement periods, but I completely agree with the part in bold. When relationships are new, people tend to be at their best. They present a certain image to the other person. Only time will tell if she slips back into these ways. I definitely think you need time (before an engagement) to determine if you want to get married and you definitely have to consider that question in bold.
  4. Stopher,

    I agree with the two answers above.

    God certainly has made it His mission to transform people. Drunks and drug-addicts, for example, have gone cold-turkey never to return again.

    The sad truth, though, is that there are many people who become involved with drugs, alcohol, or relationships because they are looking for understanding and acceptance - or even to just ease the pain. A person like this could meet someone like you, feel their pain eased, and abstain from the other pain-relieving activities for a time. If your friend might be such a person, then your future together could be VERY rough. The trouble is that it is hard to discern when you are in the midst of the relationship. Your feelings for one-another both change your actions and cloud your judgement. I have even seen people walk and talk like Christians in order to gain favor in someone else's eyes until they have what they want or think they need.

    I suggest that you do a number of things.
    - Don't rush it.
    - Pray. Read the Bible. (alone and together).
    - Seek (and listen to) Godly counsel from people who know both of you, especially older people.
    - Seek out a professional counselor. If you cannot afford one, you could ask your church to help, or start writing inquiries to organizations like Focus on the Family or Family Life.
    - This may be the second most important bullet here: If there are "alarm bells" in your own head, take them seriously to God and Christian counsel. You have done the right thing in posting this for discussion.

    My wife and I did something just before we married that was very beneficial. We were engaged for 1 1/2 years, and in order to test our commitment and to improve our relationship, she went away to Bible school for the last 9 months of our engagement. We both sought God's will for our lives, drew nearer to Him, and stayed committed and faithful to one another. It helped us both know for certain. We have been married for 36 years, having gone through many easy and rough times together, never once turning to anyone or anything else for our spouses and God for fulfillment and satisfaction. That is what God designed for us, and that is what I wish for you.
  5. #5 KingJ, Feb 12, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
    Sounds like all my painful exes. The proof is in the pudding.

    I married my current wife because she couldn't stop talking about Jesus. She wanted to go to church. She put effort into helping elderly and a homeless shelter. You two talking about Jesus and your love for him when alone together is meaningless and confirms nothing!
  6. God forgave you. If you care for this woman then marry her.
  7. When God forgives her who are you to hold what God has forgiven against her?

    That being said, because we know that there are people who can give lip service to claims they've found Jesus. And they can also claim they're not using anymore because if someone is hooked on getting high, and drinking, they can also be master manipulators. And if they know what you want to hear they know what to say to get what they want.

    Go with your gut. That's where God speaks from too. If it doesn't feel right pay attention. And for goodness sake, take it slow.

    If you're thinking marriage you owe that to yourself. Take it slow. Because you're talking about spending the rest of your life with one person and one person only for the rest of your days.

    How old are you? You don't have to answer but consider. Now think, the average healthy male can live to 77 years of age or longer. How many decades is that for you at your age now?
    One woman, forever.

    The right choice is paramount. There's no hurry.
    (HUGS YOU) God bless and guide your steps. ^j^
  8. I believe that in this case there needs to be a LONG courtship period in order for you to determine the extent of her spiritual rehabilitation.

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