This is a truly tough question to answer. I can't say whether a relationship with a convict can work or not, never having been in that situation. I do not know Joey and I do not know if he is a man capable of change. Some people are.
Consider Your Boys First
This is what I do know: Your children have to come first
Your relationship with a convicted felon, while personal to you, also directly affects your children. I would hope that you would take into serious consideration whether this is the best choice for your kids.
While in your current situation, Joey could seem like a wonderful man, fully capable of being a loving husband and father. But the situation you will FIND yourselves in down the road, is a very different one.
Your Kids Deserve The Best
Your children deserve the best you can offer them. Your children are so incredibly young and they depend on your for their very lives, their well-being and you will help to define the type of people they grow into right now. How you interact with others will be a direct role model for your boys.
Consider the role model that you provide for your children and that Joey would provide for your children from prison.
A Lot Changes In Twelve Years
A lot can happen in twelve years. Twelve years is a very long time to be apart, and a tremendous amount can happen in those years. If you've ever compared your life right now to what it was even a year ago, you can tell in yourself how much life changes, how much people change in a short span of time. Twelve years is a very long time to hold your life for someone, and before you commit your emotions to this, consider if it will be fulfilling to you.
Has He Delt With His Past?
Joey has some serious issues in his past. You cannot gloss over the things that Joey has been through in his past. It lead him to a life of crime, and perhaps he has realized that his crimes were wrong and truly IS sorry for them. However, has he really dealt with the issues that prompted him to go that route?
A lot of people, honestly, had difficult childhoods, who were abused as children - physically and sexually, and dealt with a realm of things that no child should ever have to face - and they did not all turn to a life of crime.
Joey has a tremendous past to overcome, and rather than just accepting his responsibility for the crimes he has commited, you should also be very careful to be sure that he has actively sought and received help to deal with his
A man who has turned to crime in the past in response to the bad things that have happened to him may have some serious issues in dealing with the negative things in life. He may still have some inherently strong issues to deal with inside himself.
Abuse Is A Pattern
This would have a huge impact on the potential for your relationship, as well as the relationship he would have with your children. It's a fairly well known fact that people who were abused as children are more likely to develop that pattern, whether as an abuser or the abused, as adults. If he has not dealt with the issues of his past, he could bring those issues into his present.
You have much to learn still. Your feelings and the emotions you share with Joey are real. However, a relationship is more than emotion.
You Don't Know If You Can Co-Exist
A true relationship requires presence, time spent, physical contact - it requires learning about that person, learning their habits, learning if your lives can co-exist together. There is much more to learn about your relationship, about each other which cannot truly be done in the avenue you have open to you right now.
Marriage is a HUGE step and never one that should be taken lightly. I would caution you not to move too quickly into the emotions that go with considering a marriage proposal until you have considered the RELATIONSHIP itself and its feasibility first.
You can try to make it work. Just be realistic. Your relationship can work, if you accept the limitations for what they are and realize that things can change. You cannot guarantee your future, you can only live in the moment. If you want to give things a try with Joey, be sure that you have thought out the consequences AND the good points equally in turn. I believe that people can change - if they are changing for themselves and no one else.
You have time...use it. Use it to consider your options, consider your feelings and to be realistic about your choice here. Be realistic about your situation, and be bluntly
honest with yourself about the effect this will have on your life, on Joey's life and your children's life most of all.
He'll Have To Adjust To Life On The Outside
Remember, whenever Joey does get out of prison, he is going to have a major adjustment to getting back to real life. It's not going to be easy for him...or for you, if you are married to him.
Just remember that you and your children deserve the best, and be sure that this is the best thing for you and your children before you step forward.