Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is a married man!
Since meeting in math class in community college, Sorrentino and Pesce, who got engaged on Valentine’s Day this year, have weathered their fair share of tough times.
“We went out together for about four years, and then once Jersey Shore started we decided to take a break throughout seasons 1-6,” Sorrentino told PEOPLE earlier this year. “Once [the show] was over, we eventually reconnected and have been together ever since, for over four years now.”
“She’s my best friend, my better half,” he added. “She makes me a better person. I’m so excited that she’s in my life.”
Indeed, Pesce has stood by the reality star through everything from his fight for sobriety to his tax evasion case. The New Jersey native rose to fame as a hard-partying self-proclaimed “guido” on the MTV show — but by the time it wrapped in 2012, he was battling a prescription painkiller addiction.
“She’s definitely my better half and the reason why I strive to be the best version of myself and to fight for our future,” he told PEOPLE. “And to show a good example to her, her family and everyone watching — because my life has been under a microscope. I have a lot to prove.”
In turn, Pesce told PEOPLE that her faith has helped her get through it all.
“I’ve always been Catholic, but it’s not so much just going to church,” she said. “It’s finding my belief, that God has a reason for everything, and knowing you’re able to overcome anything as long as you have your faith and trust in God. That’s what I did, and Mike really came into that as well and found his own spirituality. So I think it’s a combination of us really putting our whole trust in God and not worrying about the next job, not worrying about how things were going to get taken care of — just believing that it was going to be as it’s meant to be.”
“What I dreamed of, the expectations I had set for him, him getting healthy and sober — I didn’t know that our relationship would survive had those miracles not happened, and they did,” she continued. “He put in the hard work and thanks to the faith in God that we have, we’re in the position we’re in today.”
RELATED VIDEO: Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi Opens Up Ahead of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s Sentencing: “You Gotta Deal with It”
Pesce has also been Sorrentino’s rock throughout his federal court case. The reality star and his brother Marc were initially indicted in September 2014 for tax offenses and conspiring to defraud the United States after allegedly failing to properly pay taxes on $8.9 million in income from 2010 to 2012. In April 2017, both men were indicted on additional charges including tax evasion, structuring and falsifying records.
In January, Sorrentino pled guilty to one count of tax evasion and was sentenced to eight months in prison on Oct. 5. At both court dates, Sorrentino appeared hand-in-hand with Pesce, who has always believed in the man she knew he could be.
“When I met Mike, I met him as a person and not as a celebrity,” she previously told PEOPLE. “So I’ve always known him at his core — him being the most giving and loving family-type of guy in his soul. And through any kind of ups and downs, any kind of darkness that he went through, I always knew that person inside was so important and worth fighting for. I always wanted him to see how special he is so that he would be willing to fight for himself.”
Sorrentino is set to begin his prison sentence on Jan. 15. A rep for Sorrentino told PEOPLE that the reality star is “grateful to continue work, celebrate the holidays and his three years sober milestone” before turning himself in.
“He looks forward to completing his sentence and coming home to Lauren, family and friends,” the rep added.
Jersey Shore Family Vacation airs Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on MTV.