Last week, I responded to a reader’s question about when to ‘pass’ on offers of romance. She was wondering if the last man she dated was her last chance at marriage. I listed 8 issues and encouraged everyone to avoid men with those issues, even if you believe he was your last chance. The issues included men who are not free to marry (in the Church), those that are not open to life, as well as, those who are mean or irresponsible. Two of the issues, #7 and #8, could be described as “negotiable”, given certain guidelines:
#7. He is not Catholic: This may be a negotiable for some of you. It was not for me. If it is a negotiable, then he cannot have a negative attitude towards your faith. He must be supportive and respectful. If not, pass on this offer.
#8. You are not sexually attracted to him: Okay, girls, I put this one last because it is the least important. However, keep in mind that you will be sleeping with this man and sharing the marital embrace with him for the rest of your life! He will know if you are not sexually attracted to him. If you cannot bear the thought of sharing the marital embrace with him, pass on this offer.
Since both of these topics are complex, I decided to focus on #7 this week and #8 next week.
What is Important?
So let’s say you have an offer of romance from a guy who is free to marry in the Church, open to life, kind, consistent in his pursuit, free from serious addiction and gainfully employed….but he is not Catholic? Given this somewhat lesser issue, how will you decide if it is a deal breaker? How will you know if it is a good idea to accept his offer of romance and allow for the potential for marriage?
When a couple has different faiths and beliefs, they are said to be unequally yoked. If you are a practicing devout Catholic and he is not, then your faith and beliefs are different. Marriage in the Catholic Church is a Sacrament. That means it ‘does’ something. Similar to Baptism and Confession, the Sacramental aspect of Matrimony expresses visibly what God is doing invisibly. Two become one. It imparts Grace which is God’s own Divine life.
That Grace must be replenished. Grace is imparted, again through a Sacramental life, throughout the marriage. It is imparted primarily through the Sacrament of the Mass, the Holy Eucharist and Confession, as well as, the life-giving aspect of the marital embrace.
If you marry a man who rejects the truth of this invisible work and imparting of Grace, then you will have one person (you) believing this and the other person (him) not believing it. You will indeed be unequally yoked.
As a ‘yoked’ couple, Faith and Truth will be required for day-to-day living. How you handle everything from child rearing to spending money will depend upon the direction you are going as a yoked couple. If he is pulling one way and you are pulling the other way, then a struggle will ensue.
For Gregg and me, our faith is integrated into every aspect of our life. It gives our conversations and decisions depth and purpose. If one of us is challenged at work, the other will pray for them. Whenever we talk about a problem or a suffering, our faith in Christ is in the center of the solution. I just can’t imagine being yoked to someone who does not share my philosophical or theological view of life and eternity.
I Will Convert Him!
Yes, there are many stories of husbands who have a strong faith conversion after marriage. But, I think going into marriage with the expectation of a faith conversion is risky and slightly unfair. If he is supportive and respectful toward your faith, is free from the negative issues we discussed, and you love him, then this may be an acceptable ‘negotiable’ for you. However, consider these guidelines:
1. He must agree to a Sacramental marriage in the Church with a full wedding Mass, be completely open to life and agree to raise your children Catholic.
2. You must accept that you will be ‘carrying’ the family from a spiritual standpoint and you must take this responsibility to heart. I know of several women who are disappointed in their husbands because they will not go to Mass with them or because they are lukewarm spiritually. I think the wives need to accept this cross and rather than complain about or nag their husbands, they should remain faithful in their own relationship with the Lord and His Church.
Are you ready for this cross and this responsibility? If not, pass on this offer. If so, then this may be a perfectly acceptable marriage option for you. Don’t underestimate the impact that a virtuous wife can have on a husband.
Catholic But Not On Fire
Some of you girls may be looking for the Catholic guy who is as on fire for the Lord as you are. Yet, there may be a Catholic guy who is seeking to romance you but he is not overly committed in his faith. May I encourage you to consider this man?
Keep in mind that most of us are poorly catechized Catholics. You may be pretty far down the road on your faith journey and your relationship with the Lord. He, however, may be just starting on his journey. That is okay. If he cooperates with your commitment to Chastity and would be open to life once you were married, then this guy could make you very happy. If he starts to go to Mass regularly after meeting and dating you (especially together!), then that is a great sign.
When Gregg and I met, he was attending Mass regularly and was at the beginning of his strong faith journey. I, on the other hand, was further along in my faith journey. I was teaching Catechism and had studied apologetics because I had to learn to defend my Catholic faith.
However, Gregg often tells others that he was inspired by me to learn about our Catholic Faith. And, today, after almost 11 years of marriage, he surpasses me in many ways spiritually. He will be the one to attend a bible study, say a rosary, pray daily for those with cancer, speak boldly about the need for God in our lives, encourage others to live a Sacramental life, show compassion and act charitably with our time, talent and treasure.
My point is don’t reject a Catholic guy who appears to be “behind” you spiritually. Look at other qualities, especially:
- Generosity, HUMILITY, consideration, kindness
- a good conversationalist, a good listener, a well-formed conscience
- intellect, personal cleanliness, authentic masculinity, a sense of purpose, steady employment
- the way he looks at you, a desire to make you happy
If he has a good number of those qualities, then there is only one more thing to consider…..Sexual Attraction!
And that will be our topic for next week!
Edit: Please take a look at what Tienne wrote in the comments section and be sure to check out her post where she shares her wisdom on this topic!
God love and bless you!
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