As a bride-to-be, how can I get past the struggle and disappointment I'm experiencing due to the fact that the man I'm marrying isn't a virgin? I don't hold this against him. In fact, I almost feel guilty for having these feelings because he is a devoted Christian, gentle and kind, and a man of deep character. At the same time, I can't help but worry that this may have some kind of effect on our marriage and how we interact with one another as husband and wife. I have been lying awake at night wondering if this struggle will ever go away. Can you help me?
We can certainly appreciate the emotions you're feeling. It's an understandable and natural response you're experiencing, though we're confident in the sufficiency of God's grace to bring about healing and resolution to your struggle. We want to begin by encouraging you that it's a good thing and positive thing that your fiancé told you about this before the wedding. It's likewise good that you have personally pursued sexual purity in your own life. That's a big point in your favor, and it will go a long way toward helping you resolve this issue.
You didn't express this thought in so many words, but reading between the lines we can't help feeling that you may be worried about "measuring up" or "being good enough" for a husband who has already been initiated into the mysteries of sexual intercourse. If that's the case, rest assured that casual sex can never compete with or compare with sexual intimacy that is grounded in complete commitment between spouses and deep devotion to Christ. In the end, it all comes down to your relationship with the man you're going to marry. That's because the level of one's commitment to one's partner makes all the difference in the world in sexual experience. What he had with another partner or partners in the past is nothing like what the two of you can experience within the context of Christian marriage.
If you haven't already, we suggest that you talk with your fiancé and get some more information. What exactly was going on in his life when he lost his virginity? Was he a Christian or not? Was his sexual dalliance a one-time fling or part of a long-term relationship? Did he repent and make a commitment to change his behavior? Were his actions the result of a sexual addiction, possibly including the use of pornography? Or did he simply make a mistake with a high school girlfriend? The answers you get to these questions could make a huge difference in the way you end up approaching the issue. An addiction will have very serious implications for your marriage, whereas the other scenarios we've posited probably won't.
We'll go a step further by saying that you need to do more than simply talk with your fiancé about your concerns. You also need to explore this topic together with the help of a trained Christian therapist within the context of a course of premarital counseling. Premarital counseling is a must for all engaged couples, but in your case it's particularly important. You need to work this out before you tie the knot, and you need to do it with professional assistance.
In the meantime, while you may find it difficult to stop obsessing about things that happened in the past - things over which you have no control - we would encourage you to challenge and actively work toward countering these thoughts. Consider using them as a catalyst or jumping-off point for prayer. It would also be a good idea to remind yourself that, in God's eyes, your fiancé is not a worse sinner than you are. We have all done things that put us in dire need of God's grace. Bear this in mind, and ask yourself if there isn't something for which you might want to ask your fiancé's forgiveness. You'll be surprised what a difference it can make in your attitude.
If you think it might be helpful to discuss this situation at greater length with a member of our staff, we'd like to invite you to call Focus on the Family's Counseling department at your own convenience.
Sex and Intimacy