The best of my unsolicited advice about getting married
Every marriage is different
The goal of marriage is the salvation of your spouse and children.
Marriage is a sacrament. Through it you receive an abundant and constant source of grace. I have heard it said that it is the primary means of salvation for the majority.
That grace frequently call us to intense sacrifice.
You must understand that love is a choice.
Guys, you must be prepared to give yourself up for her per Ephesians 5.
You must give up being single.
You must understand that getting married is rightly ordered towards procreation -- or, you had better understand that being a parent in short order is a very real possibility.
Read Psalm 127
Marriage vs. career goals .. marriage ALWAYS comes first.
The fruits of your career are temporal ...
You cannot take the fruits of your career with you.
The fruits of your marriage are eternal ...
the easiest attack point for Satan on a solid Catholic marriage is BEFORE IT STARTS
the warm fuzzies come and go
you will make each other mad on occasion
when dealing with "intense fellowship" STOP ARGUING and pray together first, no matter how much it hurts
Oh, and one last thing ...
Marriage rocks ... Learn everything you can about sacramental theology. Nothing makes your spouse more beautiful than understanding their purpose and your purpose. Understanding the link between the physical you and the spiritual you is paramount to having the type of love that is like a fine wine as opposed to the type of love that is like a birthday cake.
As time goes by ... which would you prefer?
ABC and the division of sex from marriage
I am certainly not the first one to realize the possible link between the availability of artificial birth control and an increase in the divorce rate. In fact, it is mere speculation on my part BUT I do want you to consider one significant thing. In 1800, when a couple decided to engage in sexual relations a monumental decision had to be made. You had to ask yourself the question "Do I want to have children with this person?" That question alone offers even the one INTENDING to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage the strong incentive to reconsider and value the ideal of sexual relations ONLY within the proper context of marriage.
Now fast forward 200 years. That significant incentive has been removed and the net result is a disconnect between marriage and sex. Larger and larger percentages of people do not see a purpose for marriage because sex and procreation are far less a part of it than in past centuries. I recently read something about men and their ideas on marriage that sadly underscores my point here. Men are not getting married because women are living with them and sleeping with them. They are getting what they want without having to commit themselves to the long term welfare of their would be spouses. Men also consider exposure to possibly losing half of their life earnings by way of a future divorce a plausible risk ... Logic, for these men, dictates their reasoning behind why they do what they do. Casual sex in modern times is rampant, and certainly encouraged. Of course, it only makes sense ... right? Our modern marvels have given us the ability to engage in unhealthy spiritual union with another human being without all of the previous physical repercussions. STD's are reduced by judicious use of barrier methods. Children are avoided by these and a host of other artificial contraceptive methods. We have developed, very thoroughly, the idea that there is no real practical incentive to get married or even stay married.
The remaining incentives for marriage are mostly faith matters. Sure, studies have shown that children raised in traditional two parent homes are far more likely to grow up emotionally stable. That would be one solid incentive, but in a world where thinking about your next sexual encounter is so significant, the idea of children is far off in the minds of the average single person.
Quite simply, the real incentive is that marriage is Gods plan.
Technology provides us with novel ways to sin better but no matter how advanced we become, we cannot escape the fact that the revealed truth proclaimed by His Holy Catholic Church remains firm. I am not saying that we are any worse as a society today than 200 years ago. It is MUCH easier to fall for these lies now than then and I am sure if the technology had been available then, the problems associated with it would have also been present. There is a reason that the Didache some 1900 years ago rails against abortion ... We have been considering children an inconvenience for generations. "There is nothing new under the sun."
A crush: How it consumes us and why it is different from the love that makes a marriage work
Once again, another post from DCF
First off, a crush is a fixation on a non-reality. You are attracted to an ideal of this woman, not her. I had several long crushes on women where hindsight showed me that I BLATANTLY applied traits to a person that did not exist. Here is a perfect example from my own experience:
Hottie: Yeah, I went to church this past weekend.
What I heard: Yes, my life is deeply devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. I go to mass every day and I spend at least 2 hours in prayer when I wake up. I used to sin, but I don’t now. I am a living saint.
Hottie: Yeah, I lived with a guy for 3 years who cheated on me.
What I thought: That jerk!!! He led this innocent girl astray.
Also, crushes oftentimes have an element of “impossible” to them. In my experience those are the WORST. This stems partially from our desire, as men, to save the damsel in distress. This is a good trait but this is a bad application of it. Anyway this woman is not impossible because she is out of your league, but because she is so different from you that you know your chances of making a lasting relationship work with her is virtually non-existent. I call this the "exotic factor". She is usually in legal or emotional trouble or of wildly different social, ethnic and/or relgious background. Usually a combination of most of these. What we have a tendency to do initially is ignore the glaring and obvious obstacles that will prevent a relationship with this person as she really is and reduce the object of our affections simply to a physically appealing woman with an unknown personality. We then become her knight in shining armor, even though there really isn't much that we really see worth saving other than a pretty face. Worse yet, often times she lacks interest in you which enhances the "impossible" factor. Guys are suckers for that type of girl. This is the perfect foundation for building the ideal person in your mind that you will never have because you don't REALLY know this girl. You take her positives and apply them in grandiose fashion and tailor her to your every whim. The negatives, you do not even see or you chalk up to hearsay. Part of what strengthens the crush is the knowledge that, deep down, you know it is not going to happen. Oddly, that fuels the yearning because the more unlikely the chance, the deeper in you want to get. This is male pride. A challenge!!!
Second, you have GOT to find out things like you mentioned in the previous post [which mentioned that she had flaws]. That minimizes the crush because you are starting to see the person as they are ... with flaws. Stop making excuses for the things they do that bother you. You see them, but you are often blind to them. Accept reality. If marriage looms around the corner (and one day it will) you will have to live with these things and it is MUCH better to deal with them now than later.
Third, as I am sure every married person has told you, one must understand that REAL love is different than that of a crush. Attraction must be there no doubt but real love is when you CHOOSE to love a person DESPITE their flaws. God can work with that and in my experience crushes fade, while love grows. I love my wife more today than I ever have and it beats any crush that I ever had.
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On Being Single ... from a married guy
God has blessed me richly with a wonderful wife and great examples of lasting marriages within my family. Also, being married gives me some insight on the transition from being single to being married. On a forum that I frequent someone asked the question "What do you do when it seems clear that it just isn't going to happen?" ... My response was as follows
This advice may sound harsh but you have to get comfortable with a few ideas about being single and being married. From a now happily married, ex-happily single person, let me tell you what helped me, and in hindsight, would have helped me even more.
First, being single is a gift. (see 1 Cor 7).. This idea permeates Church history and is evident in its teachings on the virtue of chastity. One of the early fathers even went so far as to say that marriage is wonderful in that it produces virgins. These days we have a tendency to not see the single life for the gift it is because everything in our culture tries to tell us that being married and living happily ever after is a special rite of passage that should happen to everyone.
Second, being married doesn't solve all of your problems and it is not a magic time of life that brings nothing but joy and happiness. (for example, I am sitting up at 4 am with my daughter falling back to sleep in my lap... cute yes ...but not always fun... ) ... Don't get me wrong. I gush about how wonderful marriage is all the time but it is a vocation. It takes hard work and great sacrifice to make it joyful. Too many people in this day and age want to think of marriage as enhanced singleness with all of its freedoms and the added bonus of someone to come home to. Treating marriage that way is setting it up for big problems. Once you get married you GIVE UP being single. I had to learn this lesson the hard way so I am telling you now, cherish the advantages while you have them.
Third, the most important relationship you have is with Christ. Maximize this time with Him and become comfortable with the idea that He is all you need, because He is. Go to daily mass. Pray more. Learn more about the faith. Serve at the local soup kitchen a few extra hours a week. This is a special time in your life with Him. Live it up.
I know of a guy who derives great unnecessary misery from this idea he has that marriage is going to fill some void in his life. What he doesn't understand is that void needs to be filled before he is ready to find a wife. My wife and I both met each other after we came to the solid conclusion that if God had us be single, we would be OK with it. You would be shocked how many married folks we know that tell us the same thing. The plan needs to be His not ours and His timing is not always as soon as we would like.
The thread continued ... as will these posts in the next few days. Stay tuned.