Should I marry this woman?

Question:

Hi,

I'm a male in my late twenties. I've been dating my girlfriend, who is a few years older, for several years. It's been rocky because we didn't have God as the center of our relationship until the last few months.

To make a super long story a lot shorter, there have been many downs. I have always been the one to fix things for both of us. I've brought her back from wanting to leave twice because she gossips with her girlfriends about 100% of our relationship -- bed, feelings, house, money, etc. -- and then convinces herself I'm a bad man just like every one of her exes and her dad. I only found in the last few months that this has been going on since day one and that they're always telling her to leave me solely based on the twisted stories she gives them.

She's called me everything in the book, lied to me, emotionally cheated on me, belittled me, walked all over my boundaries, and gaslighted me to my face when I knew she was lying -- she's quite literally never admitted any mistakes or apologized for anything until I explain I already know or explain why something she did was utterly messed up. On top of that, she would often apologize after I explained something; she would turn around to her friends and say she didn't mean it and that I was such a crybaby.

Despite everything, I've never yelled, hit, thrown, mocked, or done anything to her. I've always been the one to sit down and talk, pouring myself out. I do love her. She's the first girlfriend and girl I've ever opened up to, but it's hard to say it hasn't been a massive mistake. I've wanted to marry her for years on and off, but I've always had a bad gut feeling about things that keep happening.

We've both started going to church, but the lies and gaslighting didn't stop; that is until I got baptized, and subsequently, she did as well. It's been a short time, but when I try to talk about the past, get some closure, and have her take any accountability, she always goes back to the fact that she's now changed and hasn't lied to me since then. This is true, but the concerns I've raised about her going places with people I don't know are still happening as recently as this week. It's only been once in the last month, but I've mentioned this multiple times.

I keep forgiving her when these things come up, but the episodes of doubt keep coming up. I know real forgiveness is going to take a long time because it's been so long that I've been dealing with this by myself for both of us.

That brings me to my question: I've talked with a godly father-like figure (mine passed when I was a teen). He said that if I keep waiting for everything to be 'perfect' before marrying someone -- marriage will never happen. I understand where he's coming from and that I need to trust God that everything will work out, but this is a conflict because God gave me my whits and brain, which I've relied on for so many years. Am I supposed to marry someone who I've had to deal with so much and believe that she's genuinely changed?

I sometimes doubt God when I have these thoughts, but is He the one giving me these uneasy feelings and trying to guide me?

Thank you for any guidance, and God bless.

Answer:

I read your note with quite a bit of concern. You hint that you have been living with a woman for several years and having sex. I'm glad you both decided to change and become Christians, but you leave the impression that you two haven't changed and that you are still living together and committing fornication (I Corinthians 6:9-10). "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). Baptism doesn't prevent sins from happening again, but we are not to ignore our sins and think we are acceptable to God while we continue to sin.

You have been inclined to ignore her character because you've gotten physically involved with this woman. You tell me you love her, but you did not mention any qualities that she has that you admire. Take a look at what Solomon said about the type of woman you are involved with:

"It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman" (Proverbs 21:9).

"It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman" (Proverbs 21:19).

"It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman" (Proverbs 25:24).

"A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike; he who would restrain her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand" (Proverbs 27:15-16).

It is repeated so many times because young men get focused on the wrong things and think that a woman who can never be pleased will change. She has demonstrated a deep flaw in her character, yet you continue because you have someone willing to pretend to be your wife. Your friend is correct that you can't wait for perfection to get married, but that is not what is happening here. You've already noted that she is drifting back into her old habits even after being baptized and claiming to change. This isn't about God. This is about the fact that you haven't been paying attention to God's teaching. You are living in sin; you are ignoring the warning signs, and still, you continue.

Question:

Hi Jeff,

My apologies. That's one of the significant details I didn't include for the sake of trying to keep the letter a manageable size. She left for a third time about a month before I started going back to church, and even before that, the (wrong) act of intimacy had not occurred for some time. I talked to her once I got my head on straight and realized some things, and she came back. She did move out, and then we started going to church together and having outings together, but I also hold us accountable, and I now know much better. I do appreciate the citations, as in my research, I did not come across the I Corinthians passage.

Regarding the second part, as much as I don't want to admit it, I know you're absolutely correct. I waited a long time and messed it up because God wasn't at the center of my life. I've been trying not to let the bond you're supposed to only share in marriage die off despite me spoiling it already. You're also correct in that I didn't list the things I admire about her because -- while they are great traits: kindness, loving, servitude, commitment-- they're all things I've observed and never feel like I've experienced. I've provided for her for several years in every way I can. I've taken care of her for almost a year when she was sick and having medical issues. I took care of her finances and everything else I thought a man should do, but again, I still struggle to forget after forgiving the things that have been done. I've asked her and God to forgive me for not having Him in our lives and leading such a sinful life.

Lastly, I truly appreciate the letter back and the brute truth. I read a few articles on your website but I honestly didn't expect a response.

Answer:

I'm glad the situation is a bit better than I had concluded from your first letter. Since you both have become Christians recently, it is hard to measure exactly how much either of you has changed. What I gather is that you fear that she hasn't really changed.

Baptism washes away sins (Acts 22:16; 2:38), and as a Christian, you are required to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). While she hasn't directly asked your forgiveness for her past sins, you must assume that she intends to be a different person and treat her as one. Bringing up the past isn't going to help in this case.

Instead, it is time to make an honest measure of her character as she currently is since her baptism. New Christians make mistakes. It is far too easy to slip into old habits. Thus, you have to decide if her change is one that you want to live with for the rest of your life or not. This may take a few months to determine.

When you express concern that she goes out with people you don't know, what is it that you are concerned about? I would expect two people to know different sets of people, and since you have been dating for a while, I would expect there to be increasing overlap between those two sets. Meeting people who know your girlfriend should help you understand more about her past.

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