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?
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.