"Me and Lauren were going to wait until after the case because there's a lot of obstacles and challenges for us on a weekly or monthly basis, but we decided this is a positive thing, and we want to move forward with that," Mike said of his February proposal, which will be featured on an upcoming "Jersey Shore: Family Vacation" episode. "I wasn't going to allow circumstances to define me; I was going to let them refine me and make me better, so that's when I decided I was definitely going to do this engagement with the help of God and MTV, and we made it happen."
In January of this year, Mike plead guilty to one count of tax evasion. The court hearing for his and his brother's sentencing was postponed from April 25 to June 20 of this year, and although Mike is facing a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, he feels he can "handle anything" with his fiancée by his side.
"Lauren is my better half and makes me be the best version of myself, and I feel like us as a team, we can handle anything that comes our way," he said.
But Mike's legal battles are not the only ones he's had to overcome. The reality star is now over 2 years clean and sober, which he attributes to his self-awareness, hard work and incredible support system.
"[Lauren] never was one to enable me," Mike said. "She always challenged me in any decision that she thought was not the right decision or unhealthy for me. And no matter how stubborn I was, she stood her ground throughout the years, even when I was half-assing my recovery, and I got half-assed results -- until recently, when I put all hands on deck, and I got great results. She was there every step of the way, and she believed that I would one day grow into the man that I am today."
"I know that my life is on a microscope, and I want to set a good example for the recovery world and in general," he added. "I want to be a good man. I had my fiancée at home watching ['Jersey Shore: Family Vacation'], so I wanted to show integrity and make everyone proud."
Lauren told TooFab she feels like the "Michael" she's now engaged to is the Michael she met back in college in 2004.
"He's not only that version of himself, he's even more mature and responsible," she said. "He found his purpose in life with giving back and helping others with recovery. We're just in a really healthy space in our relationship after we've gone through a lot over the years."
Mike and Lauren dated for almost 4 years before he was cast on MTV's "Jersey Shore." They broke up about a year before the first episode premiered and stayed broken up for the 3 years the show was on air. Lauren said she ran into Mike at a New Jersey gym (but of course) in 2013 about a year after the show wrapped, and that the two "picked up where [they] left off."
See everything Mike and Lauren told TooFab about their "Jersey Shore" engagement in the Q&A below.
We know viewers will get to see the engagement on the show, but what can you tell us?
MIKE: We really can't tell all the details, but it was really special, and it happened exactly the way that I hoped and dreamed. A lot of roommates had various parts to play with the engagement and how we set it up, and it was awesome. I'm very excited for everyone to see it in a couple weeks.
Lauren, did you have any idea this was going to happen considering you visited Mike in Miami on Valentine's Day?
LAUREN: I didn't think it would happen on the show when I went down [to Miami]. I don't know if on Mike's planning end if that was a part of his original plan because, I know from my own scheduling to go down, it was very last minute and getting moved around a lot, so I wasn't really thinking, like, 'Oh, we're were having a Valentine's Day trip!' I was kind of just visiting him, so I didn't know that that was going to happen.
Did you have high expectations?
LAUREN: I did have very high expectations for when we did get engaged because we've waited so long. I wanted it to be so special, and he definitely exceeded those expectations with everything that he put together and did.
Have you set a date? Do you have a location?
LAUREN: We haven't set the date, but we are actively planning the wedding. Hopefully, you guys will be able to see a 'Jersey Shore' wedding. Hopefully, it'll be in our homeland of the Mother Country and have a destination-type feel.
(In case there was any doubt, Mike made sure to clarify that his new fiancée meant Italy.)
"Jersey Shore: Family Vacation" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on MTV.