But the wait is killing us!


#1

Hi all.

I’ve posted on these boards before with relationship questions. Before, my boyfriend of almost two years and I were seeking advice/info on getting married during college. This question is along the same lines, though different, as I believe we’ve matured in our relationship since then.

Basically, we have discerned that God has blessed us with love and is calling us to marriage. We have always known that the ‘acceptable’ thing (according to our parents and society) would be to wait to get married until after we graduate from college in 2009. This summer we began to question that, but after some investigation basically came to the conclusion that getting married after junior year would be financially impossible without going into debt. We resigned ourselves to that, and decided to wait on getting married until after graduation once more, and decided even to wait on engagement, because we’ve always been advised against long ones.

We’re now re-thinking that.

As far as our hearts and minds are concerned, we’re already engaged (I’m just missing a ring ;)). It seems that our families and friends acknowledge this, joking about what ring he’ll pick out, and assuming in conversation that we’ll be married ‘eventually’.

That said, any warning folks have against long engagements seems to already apply to us. I’ve given advice on this board before that young couples seeking chastity should try to grow in emotional and spiritual intimacy, rather than physical intimacy. But what we’re finding is that they are all together a natural progression. Growing so close emotionally and spiritually naturally draws us to desire physical closeness. I don’t mean that we’re just desiring the sexual married love which we’ve learned about together via JP II and Christopher West, but more yearning for a life together, sharing a home, our time, and so many experiences. It becomes harder and harder to imagine the next two and a half or so years apart.

At this point we’ve really decided that all we can do is completely surrender our relationship to God’s will… but we’ll have to discern what that is, exactly ;). Could He be calling us to reconsider our (human) timeline?

I’m sure some of you engaged and married couples out there have dealt with these same ideas/feelings. How did you deal with long engagements? (Heck, how long was your engagement/did you know your husband or wife before you married?) Should we really just be patient and do what we know is practical and acceptable to most people’s standards? Or is this a sign that God is calling us to a different path… after all, I believe one of Paul’s Epistles calls us to never conform to the present age.

Any responses would be much appreciated :slight_smile:


#2

I’ll be very honest with you. I married my husband when we were both 19. He was in the middle of his second year of college. Our first child was born two and one /half years later. We were engaged for one year.

Everyone told us not to do it, that he would never finish college,that marrying young guarenteed failure, that we’d be sorry.

22 years later, three kids. We’re not sorry. We’re still best friends. He has a PhD. I stayed home with the kids, and have worked part time since they got into school. We are in debt and still paying for his schooling. We do not own a home. Finances are always tight…but honestly I wouldn’t do anything differently.

I was very confused because I had been raised Catholic and taught a set of priorities, but when I began to talk about marriage…it seemed that the priorities I had been taught were just “talk”, because everyone told me not to think that marriage could last forever, love would last, that I could be a stay home mom, that money wasn’t the most important thing.

My mother kept repeating…“when money gets tight love goes right out the window.” and “people who marry young don’t stay together” But she married my father when she was 19, and they are still together nearly 60 years later…

So…honestly…yeah, life is hard. And sometimes it sucks not to be able to afford stuff. And we’ve never really had a nice family vacation. If that stuff matter a lot to you, and it’s fine if it does, just be very honest with yourself, then maybe better to wait. But if you have other dreams that you are willing to work for…only you know what you really want and are willing to give in your life.

I like the kind of marriage and family and life we have. It’s not fancy, but it is immensely satisfying. Be very very honest with yourself.

cheddar


#3

please take this as my personal opinion, probably comes from personal experience and observation, and not any kind of church teaching or recommendation.

I think there are some or even most couples, as long as their dating history has not been corrupted by too early casual sexual activity who do know within a reasonable time, 6 months to a year, when they have met the person they are going to marry and spend a lifetime with. When love is allowed to proceed, and intimacy develop on the schedule God intends, and not short-circuited by early sexual expression, those couples are ready for marriage in a year or two, and it is folly to wait.

I am simply unable to understand financial arguments often posed against early marriage.
(these are general that we often hear, not those of OP)
We cannot afford to finish school without debt–well for my generation and my children’s everybody has debt unless they were the fortunate few who got a full scholarship, so, yeah.

We have to shack up because we can live more cheaply–if you are ready to live together and have all the privileges and benefits of doing so, you get married. If you are not ready for marriage, you are not ready to live together. Period.

We can’t afford kids. Just disregard what the websites say about the cost of children. Get your health coverage in place–a necessary part of marriage prep anyhow–and the rock bottom necesseties are affordable. What is not you don’t need or can get as gifts or used. Not being able to afford kids is like saying we cannot afford clean air and water, we cannot afford plants and trees, we cannot afford to give anything of ourselves because we are too devoted to taking.

We can’t afford a wedding.

A wedding costs nothing if witnessed after one of the regular Masses by a priest or deacon, followed by a meal for the small group in a nearby family restaurant with everyone paying thier own way. The rest of that cultural baggage is simply not required and adds nothing, in my experience to the chances of the marriage succeeding. Going in dept for a wedding, or socking one’s family for a big bar bill is in my opinion gravely immoral, one of the worst sins in our society.

I simply think it is a grave mistake for a couple who is sure to delay marriage for financial reasons. If they are ready to plan their lives together, they are ready to get married and live their lives together. Sure, there will be poverty and struggle in the early years, that is what makes marriages strong. How much better to share those struggles, united in Christ, than to forge on alone.


#4

Well, if you were my daughter, and I thought you and he were well formed in the faith, I would encourage you to marry sooner rather than later.

Several of our homeschool grads in our community are getting married–most during college. And, I heartily approve. They are very happy. And, they are having the beautiful marriages that I hope for my children.

If…I could do it all over, I’d have dropped out of college and worked. I think it would have benefitted me to have some time in the real world (as opposed to the college campus).

Don’t listen too much to the world. God’s plan seldom goes along with it.


#5

One very valid financial argument that many young people including myself have experienced is that our parents helped out tremondously with expenses during our college years. That monetary help would have dried up if we had gotten married while still in college. The thinking (and I have no problem with it) is that if you are mature and stable enough to get married, then you should be able to handle it on your own. It is a big step to turn down the financial help in order to get married.


#6

It sounds like waiting such a long time is something you’re doing to satisfy go along with what others say you should do. Here’s a sure way to know if an earlier marriage is God’s will for you. Get engaged and start marriage prep. I guarantee that if you are meant to wait - for whatever reason - you will see that quite clearly in that process.

Marriage is about the whole family of God. Whatever you choose, you will not be alone, and you will have the support of so many people!

Many blessings. And thank you for being a shining light with your love for God and each other.

Gert


#7

I mostly agree with this sentiment. But unfortunately (in my experience), the young people who are most intent on marrying NOW while young (under 21) also believe they can have it all–the BIG wedding, finish their education, be open to children, and live the American dream. Recognizing that all decisions bring consequences and that life does not proceed according to our own plans would save these young people a lot of grief.

I am also a big believer in “delaying gratification”. Even married folks need to learn and practice sexual abstinence for a variety of reasons–illness, extended time apart (for example, military deployments or job travel), or marital separations.

We are all part of our culture and our culture is very much part of our expectations. And in this culture, couples who delay marriage until their mid-20s are statistically more likely to remain together.


#8

Rach,

Priests study and discern for a good 8 years or more for their vocation. Marriage is a very important vocation indeed and deserves careful thought, prayer, and preparation. Why not at least get yourselves through college before marriage. I got married at 20, wasn’t finished with school, and even though I have my degrees now, I can see that I was naieve in thinking that I didn’t need a degree to be a mom and a wife. My DH is now deceased (and I NEVER expected that to happen), and I am sole provider for our children, one of whom is disabled. Without my education I could never do it. My point is, yes you are in love, yes you are called to marriage, and waiting might be just the first in many many many many challenges and personal sacrifices that you and your fiance will confront. I think of the family as PJ2 said “the domestic Church”. And my little family, like the Church is in the world though not of the world. And in the world it’s just a fact that you need money to clothe, feed and educate your children, just as the Holy Mother Church does. You never know what life is going to throw at you. !0 years later I never in a million years thought I’d be where I am today. Be prepared. Make the sacrifice to wait for the love of your family.


#9

My husband is an M.D., and we didn’t wait because we saw no point in waiting, and the schooling he was undergoing was of course protracted. I see no reason that young people can’t be married and attending university. I think this is an unrealistic expectation to wait that long. It’s unnatural. You can be a source of comfort and support to one another as you go through the stress of your studies.


#10

I think one of the biggest questions you need to ask yourselves should you decide to marry while still attending college is this: Are we prepared for the arrival of a baby?

Because it CAN happen. How then will the family be supported? A child needs it’s mother home to care for him/her - therefore eliminating further schooling or working outside the home for mom.

Dad then must accept the financial responsibilities for the family. Could Dad continue his college education AND support the family financially?
Or - would Dad be prepared enough to quit school and find a job sufficient to support his now family of three?

This is not something to take lightly. Your family’s future depends on you two laying a solid foundation from the START - while you have that option. When you do things in proper order, practicing prudence - your marriage and family life will be far more stable and satifsying for the long term not just for husband and wife - but more importantly for your children. Children deserve a care-free home life. Children NEED their mothers with them full-time, especially as infants and toddlers.

The choices you make now will have a tremendous impact later.

I see far too many young couples marry too soon because they are “in love” and then when reality hits - like a new baby - they find themselves in a situation they had not taken into serious account. Mom has to work because we have a mortgage that dad’s paycheck does not cover.
Or, they succumb to contraception (never right!) because they “can’t afford” or “aren’t ready” for a baby.

Sorry to ramble here, but I hadn’t really seen this addressed in depth and it IS something important to consider.:thumbsup:

If you have a well-laid plan for that eventuality then I say go for it! Long engagements are not always prudent as they can, understandably, lead to occasions of sin.


#11

Thanks for the responses, they’ve given us (well, me so far :wink: i’m sure the bf is lurking around this thread somewhere!) a lot to think about.

A few things…

I didn’t start this thread just to get approval, but a lot of the more positive responses really speak to me and what we’ve thought about. Good to hear from others like us.

So…honestly…yeah, life is hard. … If that stuff matters a lot to you, and it’s fine if it does, just be very honest with yourself, then maybe better to wait. But if you have other dreams that you are willing to work for…only you know what you really want and are willing to give in your life.

That’s just my one worry. Everyone has dreams, and mine, I don’t think, are lofty goals. A comfortable life, the ability to provide for whatever size family God blesses us with, and true happiness are really all I hope for. I just am anxious that early debt would set us back too far…

One very valid financial argument that many young people including myself have experienced is that our parents helped out tremondously with expenses during our college years. That monetary help would have dried up if we had gotten married while still in college. The thinking (and I have no problem with it) is that if you are mature and stable enough to get married, then you should be able to handle it on your own. It is a big step to turn down the financial help in order to get married.

While we’ve definitely never discussed this with our parents, I’m almost positive that they wouldn’t take away their financial support of our educations. The deal for both of us is that they cover our undergrad tuition and room and board for undergrad only. This is such a blessing, and certainly we wouldn’t be at our university without it. There has certainly never been a stipulation made known to us that they’d withdraw this support of either of us got married, but perhaps that option never entered into the realm of possibilities for them ;). At any rate, we’re operating under the assumption that we would still both finish schooling with the tuition covered by the parents. That is all the help we would expect from them after marriage, however.

I am also a big believer in “delaying gratification”. Even married folks need to learn and practice sexual abstinence for a variety of reasons–illness, extended time apart (for example, military deployments or job travel), or marital separations.

Really, though, the question is how long ‘delaying gratification’ is feasible or even advisable. We completely understand the value of marital chastity, and with two years of chaste dating experience under our belts, we could at least survive periods of abstinence for NFP or other reasons. It gets to the point where we are just feeling as if this physical separation of living apart rather than sharing one life and one flesh is almost painful for us, and seems to almost retard the relationship. It’s not even gratification we’re looking for, purely, but the intimacy that we know is appropriate to married life–and that is certainly not only physical.

We feel as if we’re treading water–and that makes God’s call so hard to hear. God doesn’t call people to tread water, so we need to be able to have a reason for either path–waiting, or marrying sooner. We both want to be able to say “We are waiting because ______” or “We’re getting married because _____”. KWIM?

We are all part of our culture and our culture is very much part of our expectations. And in this culture, couples who delay marriage until their mid-20s are statistically more likely to remain together.

I understand that our culture constructs a huge part of our expectations… but to what degree is it OK to live by cultural standards as a Christian? I for one believe that the increasing average age at marriage is not any cultural standard which a Catholic should live by. Those couples, for the most part, aren’t ‘delaying gratification,’ just saving up for their $80,000 bash of a wedding while they live together! God’s plan for love and marriage doesn’t seem to be supported by any of our American cultural standards.

A more meaningful statistic, to me, is that married couples who practice NFP–which we are planning to do from the beginning–are statistically incredibly more likely to remain together (something like 98-99% sticks out in my mind.)

That all said (sorry that it was so long!)–keep the advice coming, please! We’re talking to a priest later this month, and really realizing that this is all out of our hands. Guidance is what we need :slight_smile:


#12

This is the issue that really stopped us from considering marriage any longer the first time around. We plan on practicing NFP, and while it isn’t ideal to avoid pregnancy from the beginning, we would most likely for at least the first semester. My second semester of senior year I could go part-time and still graduate on time, were a little blessing to come along. Money would be incredibly tight after graduation, but do-able.

Thinking about this really causes me to question almost all of our priorities–you imagine so many things for yourself, and then are willing to change what you’ve imagined because you realize you may be called so something greater. Funny how God works :wink:


#13

Once you marry while in college, your parents’ insurance companies WILL NOT cover either of you. Do you have your own health insurance? Please don’t think b/c your young and in good health that you don’t need to worry about that. If you become pregnant without insurance, you will not be eligible for health insurance and neither will a child you may conceive until both of you are given a clean bill of health after the birth (the child a week or two, you six weeks) that is taking in the assumption that you would have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and delivery and that the baby would be perfectly healthy. The hospital bills without insurance are near $20000 for a healthy delivery.


#14

That is soo very true! I remember when we first mentioned our engagement, even our Catholic friends were telling us how to contracept and urging us to wait until we were done with school or had “established” careers.

My Catholic girl friends were telling me not to stay home and to delay having kids. Some of them did at least mention NFP, but only in a contracepting mindset.

Over and over again I hear about how I need to be rich, famous, have lots of schooling, a big career, fancy house, etc etc etc before getting married, with kids a distant idea that most everyone shudders at.

It was very disheartening.


#15

And don’t forget the cost of pre and post natal care for you AND the baby!

Also, do you have a job, rach? Keep an eye on the benefits, or lack of, for expecting mothers. Some companies are excellent, others could do a lot of damage.


#16

Rach,

You’re talking a lot about forgoing extravagances like 80,000 weddings etc., but I think what people here are talking about as far as expenses is not so much extravagances( which I’m sure we could all agree you can live without happily…), but the real cost of everyday normal life and just getting by. It sounds like you have had an upbringing where you didn’t have to worry much about having food, clothing, health care, and all the basics ( I assume this from you saying your parents are paying for school which is a HUGE financial feat indeed). Until you have to do it yourself, you have NO CLUE how much things really cost. Even for myself, someone who came from a family that lived largely off the kindness of others, as an adult I’m constantly surprised at how much it costs just to live and breathe and have the basics for your kids. Being prepared financially to take on the responsibilities of married life is not being selfish or living contrary to a Christian lifestyle. It’s not about giving into a materialistic culture. It’s about LOVE AND RESPONSIBILITY which are intrinsically bound. If you someday want to be able to pay your children’s way through college like your parents are doing for you, then get informed about what that will take. Sure you should live frugally, consuming only what you really need and being resourceful. But do you know what that is really going to cost you? Preparing in this way and making the sacrifice of waiting for that fullness of marital intimacy that you and your fiance are called to is not wrong or selfish. It’s loving.


#17

I think you both sound like you have good heads on your shoulders and you would know best. You both sound like you really understand what marriage is, especially regarding the Sacrament and are looking at the logistics of all of it.

I was engaged for a little over a year after dating my husband for 3.5 months, so I’m not an expert. However, I have several friends who were married during college and while money has been tight and sacrifices were constantly made, they never once regretted their decision to marry during that time.

My husband heard on the radio an interesting study done. They had said that there is no difference in the level of happiness of people who make just enough to meet their needs vs. people who make enough to own five houses in five different countries. As long as the needs are met, the happiness level is the same. I believe it. You don’t need a lot to be happy, especially with a strong faith. :slight_smile:


#18

You do understand that people are only telling you this kind of thing about having schooling completed, career started, stable means of support and living arrangements, insurance needs etc. before kids come round.

Folks who are parents know that marriage is not easy and when children are added - blessings as they are, are a handful, expensive and do change the dynamic of the family.

These folks are just trying to prepare you for a less than rosey picture of an ever romantic happily ever-after scenario that maybe younger people have.

Plans and dreams are a must - but the point of these conversations is that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Do you have the where-with-all to adjust?

There are many here who are examples that they married young and have made it successfully. There are also far more people out there that have married young and not made it. The divorce rates will prove that out.

As a parent, I am not a fan of marrying young ( and my opinion of young is under 30 - yeah…I know but I like my opinion) :smiley:


#19

Zahmir here, Rach620’s boyfriend. (The word is out!!!)

I understand all the concerns about money. We truly do and we are willing to make those sacrifices if need be. But what we’re concerned most about is, do we go ahead and make these sacrifices? Or do we wait? But most importantly, Why, in regards to God’s plan, are we waiting/marrying?

I agree with many of the posters here saying that, on one hand, life is going to be difficult if we get married earlier, but on the other hand, it doesn’t really matter in regards to one’s happiness.

We’ve been set on waiting for a long time, but we want to know if that’s what we’re called to do.

All in all, I just hope we can steer this thread away from the concerns about finances and into talking about what God might have in store for us. If you would, read Rach620’s original post. Thank you! So far the advice has been very concise and applicable.


#20

Believe me, all the money concerns many of you have raised already have not been lost on us. The costs of health insurance and prenatal care, along with the basic cost of living, are not lost on us. We’ve budgeted to see what it would take to get by, and honestly the money was what got us to stop thinking about marriage sooner before.

We know that the ‘acceptable’ thing would be to wait until after graduation–but our question is whether it would be irresponsible to marry in college, realizing that the first few years will be hard, to say the least. Those of you who have responded have given us a lot to think about.

The thing is–our question which we really want to talk to our priest about–why would God bring us together, allow us to grow so much in our relationship that we are positive we will be married ‘some day’–only for us to wait for years? Is there a reason we can’t see? (Here’s where the money comes in, for me… the whole logistics discussion is an important one, but everything mentioned here is nothing we haven’t though about many times before! If it’s financially impossible to marry in school, then I understand that we can’t do it.)


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