Over the last several weeks, I presented Part 1 and Part 2 of my review of the book, Would You Date You? by Anthony Buono, President of the on-line dating site, avemariasingles.com.
In Part 1, I shared my thoughts about Anthony and how I had a positive experience with him and with on-line dating. In Part 2, I delved into the two main areas in which Anthony and I appear to not be in sync, namely whether God arranges marriage, and if God has a specific person in mind for us when it comes to marriage.
Part 3 (finally!) includes my detailed, although somewhat critical, review of his book. Anthony’s book is very practical and full of truths that are good for everyone, not just singles. It takes the reader through an analysis of 10 different, what I would describe as, life goals: Become Heavenly, Become Humble, Become Prayerful, Become Pure, Become Charitable, Become Merciful, Become Detached, Become Self-Aware, Become Flexible and Become Practical. Then, he helps the reader analyze if there is room for improvement in these areas. The idea being that in order to attract a wonderful person, you have to first be a wonderful person. Hence the title, Would You Date You?
Again, I think his book has a lot of useful information that can be applied to anyone’s life, not just singles. However, I do have the following concerns that I would like for you to consider as you read his book.
The whole idea of Anthony’s book is self-analysis. Although this analysis can be a good thing, too much of it can be unhealthy, especially for women. We women tend to easily focus on our faults and become hyper-critical of ourselves. We can be tempted to turn ourselves into a pretzel to try to meet all the false expectations we put on ourselves.
I am not sure that Anthony’s book would have been helpful to me when I was single. I would have most likely concluded that I am not heavenly, humble, prayerful, merciful, etc. enough. And, I wasn’t! But, I still got married in spite of having all this room for improvement.
As I wrote about in this mythbuster, there is nothing wrong with you that will keep the one that God has for you from marrying you. That is, if you are running toward God, practicing Chastity and living a Sacramental life.
So my recommendation is to read the book and incorporate all the good information. But avoid becoming hyper-critical and know that God’s timing trumps all of our self-knowledge and self-improvement plans.
A Male Point of View
According to my husband, the fact that Anthony is a man is the primary reason for why Anthony and I don’t see eye to eye on the need for so much self-analysis. Gregg feels that the emphasis that Anthony puts on self-analysis is badly needed by single men, in general and can serve as a wake-up call for them.
Gregg, as a single man, had to learn to overcome himself. Becoming a good husband required courage and the ability to put others first. Gregg had to have a lot of courage to pursue me and his generosity and selflessness won me over. Developing courage, generosity and selflessness required self-analysis.
But, in the end, Gregg feels that if you run toward God and strengthen yourself spiritually through the Sacraments and with a chaste life, then that much-needed courage, generosity and selflessness will result. Self-analysis is needed but it alone cannot help anyone overcome themselves.
I think this is implied in Anthony’s book but he does not emphasize it. No big deal. There are still lots of good insights to be gleaned for both men and women. Just remember to not become hyper-critical.
Anthony really emphasizes the difficulty of marriage but I personally don’t think marriage is hard. Keep in mind that Anthony has been married for at least twice as long as I have and has 7 children. So, that may explain part of it. From my point of view, however, marriage is a lot easier than being single (!) and I worry that his emphasis on the ‘difficulty’ can be sort of discouraging for singles looking for answers and hope.
I wonder if the level of difficulty each married couple experiences is a reflection of the amount of sanctification that takes place within marriage? For example, if you get married at 24 years old, your spouse will have to witness (and endure) your emotional and spiritual growth/maturity. That is not always a pleasant experience! My husband and I had a lot of our emotional and spiritual wrinkles ironed out by the time we were married at 38 years old. We had a couple of growing pains but for the most part, our marriage has been easy.
Also, when you get married young, it may be tempting to take your spouse and your marriage for granted because it may have come easy for you. I can reassure you, even after 10 years, Gregg and I do not take our marriage for granted. When you are without something (marriage) for so long, you appreciate it once it finally arrives. You treat it very gently. It is the same with us. We treat each other and our marriage very gently. And, to us, it is not hard.
Anthony and I would definitely agree that marriage is harder without the virtue of Chastity and the Sacraments because you are not continually replenishing from the font of grace. But for me so far, coupled with Chastity and a Sacramental grace-filled life, marriage has been easy. So my message is, ‘Be not afraid!’
In the Become Prayerful chapter, there is a section titled The Key to Answered Prayer. It says,
“There is one more thing that is necessary for answered prayer, and that is living a clean life….Once you are focused on Christ, begin to pray like you already know it will happen. It is just a matter of when. It is justice for a good person living a clean life and staying closer to God to have their prayers answered.…live your life as one who is thankful to God and confident He is going to grant your request.”
Yikes! Where do I begin on this? I am sure that Anthony is not professing the ‘name-it-and-claim-it-prosperity Gospel.’ I can’t help but think of our Old Testament friend Job and all the single ‘Jobs’ living a clean life who have not had their prayers answered. We have to recognize the reality of the missed (and delayed) marriage vocation and how often times those that suffer in this missed and delayed vocation are in fact living a clean life! It also begs the question, “How do we explain the millions of married people who are not living a clean life?”
So yes, yes, live a clean life. But the reason is not so much so that our prayer requests will be granted. The reason is because holiness is our calling. A clean life, which includes Chastity, aligns with our design. When we defy the spiritual and physical laws, we suffer and put a barrier between ourselves and our Holy Maker.
There is no “key” to answered prayer and I am sure that Anthony knows this. We are to live a clean life. We are to live a Sacramental life. We are to make our requests known to God. We are to have faith in His will whatever it is. We are to accept His will. Beyond that, it is painfully and exasperatingly out of our control.
I feel confident that Anthony knows that there is no key to having our prayers for marriage answered. In this article, he states:
”I completely agree that men and women must make the effort to get out there. But finding a good deal and discovering love is so much more about God’s hand than it is our effort. I’ve said before: love is a mystery. It cannot be determined by us.”
I wish there was more of Anthony’s personal anecdotes shared in the book. I was not able to find a reference to his wife anywhere in the book nor did he share any of his own insights about himself. I think it would have been nice and the book would have been more compelling if he had shared some tidbits about himself (I guess I am nosey!). And, it would have been great if he would have answered the question of if he, given the title of the book, would have dated himself?! Maybe this is an idea for his next book!
Have you read Anthony’s book? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts in the combox. If you haven’t, it is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.
God love and bless you!
** Next week: Myths That Singles Must Resist: Myth #4 Attraction Is Physical
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Love the point about there not being a key to all of this. I remember feeling if I could just be more of “this” or less of “that” I’d be married. I know that ultimately I’m “running toward God, practicing Chastity and living a Sacramental life” as you stated. Before I was Catholic, I remember reading that exact same message on a blog on Boundless.org where a young woman struggled with singleness throughout her 20s until she met/married her husband in her early 30s in like a year and some change. She also described running the race towards God and seeing who was keeping pace with her. I think it’s a great analogy.
Hi! I think the feeling of not being enough is very common. Thank you for your comment. You remain in my prayers. God bless, Cindy
This is a great post! I couldn’t really agree with your viewpoint in the second part of this series, but I really love this one. When I first read about this book, this was exactly the part that had me staggering. I strive for holiness, but I’m nowhere near holy. I would never describe myself as heavenly, humble, prayerful, pure or anything else from that list. And though I will always aim for it, I will probably never ‘become’ it. Then again, those are traits I look for in a man …
Hi Ciska! Yes, “aiming” for it is the goal. We need to allow for a lot of grace for the journey. I have added you to my prayer list. Thank you so much for your feedback! God bless you, Cindy