A man’s take on potentially dating or marrying a woman with a past

Since I get a slightly different audience than Donal, there are some good questions asked by a man on potentially dating/marrying a woman with a past. Here they are:

What he was curious about was the effect of their settling versus a woman with a long and/or troubled “history.” Here are some questions he asked:

  • As a man, should you care if a woman is settling for you, assuming that she has been chaste?
  • Does it even make a difference that she has been chaste?
  • How do you find out or realize this is happening?
  • What should you consider if you find yourself in this scenario?

Here are my answers.

1. As a man, should you care if a woman is settling for you, assuming that she has been chaste?

“Settling” is too subjective to require an answer. I think you have to examine her “expectations” specifically in terms of what she was looking for.

An example of this is perhaps an archetype she always wanted such as say tall, dark, and handsome. I don’t think moving away from an archetype build is necessarily settling in a bad way, even though it may happen as she gets older.

On the other hand, if you’re dating a woman and she’s going all dreamy eyed and talking up men in her life that she thinks are awesome or that she’s had crushes on then that’s a red flag. Why is she with you then… except as plan B? All of those things she’s wished or wanted in a marriage… if they’re not you then that’s questionable.

2. Does it even make a difference that she has been chaste?

Yes. The divorce statistics speak for themselves, and I’m sure a large part of that is that only half of women marry the best sex of their lives. Comparisons breed dissatisfaction and jealousy.

However, it needs to be measured in terms of her behavior before and after Christ. For example, I’d assert that it’s better to be with a non-virgin Christian woman who has been chaste and modest since she became a believer for years than a lukewarm Christian who has done everything but sex and has a nonchalant attitude about chastity.

We know a lot about who people are by their fruit. Out of the heart comes attitudes and attitudes lead to actions, whether godly or ungodly.

3. How do you find out or realize this is happening?

Ask the hard questions. Talk about sex. Vetting is important.

She always answers first, before you say what you like.

4. What should you consider if you find yourself in this scenario?

At the end of the day, we all make mistakes. If she has made mistakes (and repented with visible change — good fruit) and you can live with it then go for it. If you can’t get over it, then don’t make a big(ger) commitment to something that bothers you.

The same goes for you (the man). If there are thing in your history that she can’t get over then let it go no matter how good of a prospect you are now. It will make her unhappy in the long run, and you don’t want to be married to someone who doesn’t think they’re getting a good deal. That’s a recipe for disaster.

“Baggage” is a very real thing. God forgives our sins, but the vast majority of time He does not take away the earthly consequences of our sins. Sometimes these consequences follow us into the future: criminal record, substance abuse, credit/money record, STDs, infertility, and so on. Each person needs to decide on their own what is too much for them to handle.

Marriage is a lifelong covenant. You need to be selective, discerning, and wise about who you marry because you will become one flesh with that person. All of their “baggage” becomes yours. I believe substantial amounts of baggage (especially mental and psychological) can be dumped. However, it takes confession and wrestling with God in Scriptural Truth, prayer, petition, fasting, and often tears. There is, of course, no guarantee that there will be healing either. Scars are sometimes there to remind us that we need a Savior, even though that may cause someone to not view you as a potential marriage candidate.

In addition, don’t think you can change each other. If you’re unhappy with something then you need to be able to speak it and see how they respond. Not figuring out this stuff before marriage is also a recipe for disaster.

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6 Responses to A man’s take on potentially dating or marrying a woman with a past

  1. Daniel says:

    In vetting, you don’t say much about a woman’s family background. You mention “two parents > one parent > no parents.” But there’s a lot more to it than that. We live in a culture that is at war with Christian marriage. It important to build a your marriage inside a subculture that supports and demands Christian marriage. Are her parents both servants of Christ? What do they believe about marriage? What is the state of their marriage? Did they teach her to be obedient, and to look forward to obeying her husband? How would they react if she ever considered leaving you?

    I was a sincere but naive Christian when I married 20 years ago. As God would have it, my wife turned out to be a genuine believer. But it was not because of my infallible vetting. I know plenty of people who have been deceived by false professors who turned out to be unbelievers. Nevertheless, the stability of my marriage owes in large part to my wife’s parents. They are Christians who taught her biblical marriage. My father-in-law told her before we were married, that if we had problems, she was not going to be allowed to come live with them again. He would turn her around and send her right back. Marriage was for life, and I was to be the head of our home.

    So for her, divorce is not an option. The will to make our marriage work does not rest solely on the strengths of our convictions. To divorce would mean to incur the disappointment and anger of her parents and church – making her a pariah, alienating everyone she loves. With this Christian subculture as the environment, divorce and even outright rebellion is much less tempting.

    Of course this doesn’t mean things have been easy. We both said we believed in husband led marriage, but when the rubber met the road, it was pretty ugly at times. She tends to talk back and we were sometimes unhappy. I would not give up on ruling my home, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. Still, divorce was never an option.

    In the last two years since discovering the “Christian manospere” I’ve been handling things differently, and am very encouraged by the results. Praise the Lord.

  2. @ Daniel

    Yeah, there’s definitely more posts I’ve written (and others have written) on how critical a father and mother are and their effect on their children.

    I suppose in this day and age you have to specify as well. Not “two parents” but a father and mother. There’s no real such thing as “parenting” but fathering and mothering. A mother cannot do a fathers job, and a father cannot do a mother’s job.

  3. gunner451 says:

    Would say that even if her parents are not Christians observing her interactions/attitudes with them will tell you more about her character and how she is going to treat you than anything else. If she has a poor relationship with her father and treats him with contempt, for example, then you can be sure that you’ll be treated the same way once the “honeymoon” phase is over. Also the relationship of the parents with each other will tell you what expectations she has for the relationship with you. Bottom line, watch what she does rather than what she says.

  4. Robin Munn says:

    Another addition to the “father + mother > single parent > no parents” thing would be to ask why the single parent is single. If it’s a widow who was faithful to her husband as long as he was alive, then her daughter probably learned good marriage advice from her, even if the daughter barely knew her father because he died when she was 3. If the single parent is a woman who never married and got pregnant from riding the carousel, then her daughter is a much worse marriage prospect. And so on. The latter category of single mothers are far more common than the former category, but it’s generally worth mentioning the distinction.

  5. @ Robin

    Well, it’s actually distinguishable between “one parent”:

    Father and mother > father > mother > no parents

    One only need look at the statistics to support these claims. Single motherhood is almost as bad as no parents.

  6. shredifier says:

    *Single motherhood is almost as bad as no parents*…….

    I would say that in regards to black single mothers it’s way worse than having no parents lol
    In fact being a child of a single black mother is pretty much a death sentence to the kid, harsh talk but the stats bear that out

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