I need some advice on how to cope with something that is causing me some sorrow. In May of 2010, I met a Catholic man (John) a first cousin of one of my best friends. I had heard of him from my friend for years and had talked to him occasionally via the internet, but was never interested because he had the same girlfriend for 4 years and I assumed, was shortly to be engaged and married. When we met, he and his girlfriend had just broken up, as things were not working out for them and she had taken a job across the country. Initially, I didn't ask too many questions about his past relationship, and assumed that they broke up due to the distance.
He asked me out two weeks after our meeting. We went out every weekend and after about a month, we had completely fallen for each other. However, after a month of dating, he informed me that he was not a virgin, and had intercourse with his ex girlfriend, on a very steady basis, for 4 years. As he comes from a devout, conservative, Catholic family, as do I, I was totally shocked and crushed. I too had been in a 4 year relationship, and could understand it being hard to remain perfectly chaste, but I simply couldn't process the idea of 4 years of such steady sin. I nearly broke up with him, but a friend advised me to pray about it and to talk with him.
He told me that he was attracted to me because I was many thing his ex girlfriend wasn't; a good Catholic woman committed to the faith, with the potential to make a good wife and mother. He knew from the outset that sexual satisfaction would never be a part of our dating, nor was he seeking it. I decided to put the past behind us, to move forward in our relationship, and to see where it would lead, on the condition that premarital sex would have no part in it. He gladly agreed.
The bump in the road of our dating (me finding out about his lost virginity) brought about a strengthening of our relationship, in some respects. We had many discussions about it and I later found out that he had much guilt associated with how he had lived, that he wanted to be a better Catholic, and that he valued me, more than anything, as a spiritual role model and peer, something his ex wasn't, and sincerely wishes he had waited for his future wife. Our relationship has developed into a very beautiful thing, with our faith as the main focus, and with our primary goal, that of trying to assist each other get to heaven. We go to Mass together, pray the rosary and say novenas on a daily basis for the intention that we follow God's will in our relationship. He just finished school and already has a fantastic job, so we are considering getting engaged and married this year.
I can confidently say that I love him very deeply, that he would make an amazing husband and father, and I am almost to the point where I can't imagine life without him. But here is where I need advice. Though he has made heroic efforts in coming back to the faith, in living a good life, trying to be a better Catholic, and in loving and respecting me, it still makes me sick at heart to know how he had lived. While I was never perfect either, I waited, as did my ex boyfriend, I have waited for marriage for intercourse. I know that God can and does forgive John if he is truly sorry for his sins, and I must also forgive him, which I do. But just the knowledge of it seems to try and eat away at my happiness. It isn't that I am jealous of his ex....it is more that I love John and his soul so much, that it makes me sick at heart to know that such a sin touched him for so long. It is a sadness I cannot seem to shake.
John's view on sex has changed radically since we have been dating, greatly due to the fact that (on his own) he has been reading Catholic literature regarding it and is completely committed to doing the right thing. I so admire and respect him for it. We both take our chastity very seriously, and he has bent over backwards to keep our relationship chaste in every respect. And yet, to know his old habits and views still hurts. But one friend said to me "When it all comes down to it, mortal sins all level out, and they are all offensive to God, and we have ALL sinned." This is how I have tried to cope with it, knowing that I too have grievously offended God. But the haunting memories of his past...I can't seem to shake...I don't want them to cause problems for our relationship, while dating, engaged or married.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how I should deal with this? Yes, I would prefer that he was a virgin, but I can honestly say that this man has more respect and genuine love for me than my virgin boyfriend did. My gut says not to pass up that respect and real love for his past sins. Please pray for me.