"Am I Lowering My Standards?"

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Question:

I have recently become engaged to the man of my dreams. I have been saving myself for marriage yet my future husband hasn’t and was intimate with his previous girlfriend. We have never discussed it before (in detail) the proposal and now it’s weighing on every aspect of my life. How should I approach him and would I really be giving up on my morals and values by marrying someone without the same principle about intimacy and marriage as I?


Answer:

Congrats on the engagement!  I’ll keep you both in our prayers as you continue to discern this vocation (marriage) you hear God calling you towards.

You say that you have been practicing abstinence to save yourself for marriage and your fiance hasn’t.  But let’s back up a minute here.  If you’re saving yourself for marriage, then your fiance must be practicing abstinence too, right?  The past is the past; and we can’t change it.  All we can do is move forward.  Your fiance will never be able to get his virginity back; he can’t simply make a decision to be a virgin again.  But he can (and maybe he already did) make a decision to be chaste.  This is really the question you need to be concerned with. It’s not: “Is my fiance a virgin?” It’s “Is my fiance choosing to lead a chaste lifestyle?”

It’s the same question you should be asking of yourself.  It’s awesome that you have known your whole life to cherish your virginity and to save that gift for your husband.  But chastity is about more than that, too.

Your fiance has chosen to practice abstinence for you, and that’s great.  But has he chosen to be chaste for himself?  Does he know the tremendous gift his sexuality is?  Does he know that chastity, unlike abstinence, doesn’t end the day you say your wedding vows?

Chastity is recognizing the whole of your sexuality as a precious gift—a gift to be cherished and not abused.  I say “the whole” of your sexuality because I think we all know that it is possible to give away pieces of your sexuality while still remaining a virgin.  It’s possible to abuse your sexuality or that of someone else while still remaining a virgin.  We see this all the time with things like pornography, which trains us to view the opposite sex merely as an object for our pleasure.  Chastity is the opposite of that.  It’s choosing to deny yourself for the sake of the one you love.

Like love, or any of the virtues, chastity is not a switch you can turn on; it’s something that needs to be practiced, because we all have sexual desires.  These desires are not bad; they are completely normal.  It’s when we’re deciding what we do with these desires that chastity comes into play.  And it’s hard to deny yourself sometimes.  But the payoff is worth it.  Because the payoff is real love.

So, if he hasn’t made this decision, how do you talk to your fiance about it?  Well, you could start by showing him this post.  It might be good for him to see that this was a big enough deal to you that you asked an outsider’s opinion and advice.  There are also great resources on talking about chastity here.

However you choose to go about it, you need to be talking to your fiance about all of this.  It may involve a little bit of risk and it may be uncomfortable, but you should really be talking to your fiance about everything.  You two are planning to become one!  That’s what marriage is—when two become one.  You can’t keep secrets from the other half of yourself.  You can’t have things you’re afraid to confront with the other half of yourself. Especially since the two of you, if you do get married, will probably have children someday.  What values are you going to be teaching those children?  What are they going to learn from their parents about love and about sex?  These are all things you need to be talking about before you get married.

I will be praying for you.