Helping your child prepare for marriage


#1

Christmas time is a time when many people become engaged.
I have two grown sons. My eldest son is dating a very lovely young woman for over a year now.
Though, they did not become engaged. The subject of marriage has come up.

Are there any parents out there that have gone though the time when your children were discerning marriage. How did you help them with this important decision?


#2

How old are your sons? Have either of them asked for your help?
As well-meaning as parents are, unsolicited advice (especially about important topics) can come off as interfering. Any child at any age is going to pull back if they feel their parents are trying to control aspects of their lives that are truly none of their business. I don't know what your intent is, but it sounds like you are trying to prod your son into deciding whether he wants to marry his girlfriend. I think it would be a mistake to get involved. I was personally very grateful that my parents did not try to insert themselves into my decision about who to marry, and as a result I was very open and candid with them about it. I spoke freely to them because I knew they were not going to try to influence my decisions.

However, they did try to influence when my husband and I had kids by asking me what kind of birth control I was on after the wedding, telling me I should wait until I was 30 to start, talking about how much of a burden kids are, saying I should enjoy a few years to ouselves before having kids, etc. Because of this they were the ONLY people we did not tell we were going to try for kids right away.

Now that we have mentioned we are looking for a new place to live, they are bombarding us with emails about why renting is better than owning, why it's the worst time to buy a house, and every time we see them they make sure to ask us that we're planning to rent instead of buy. Because of this, they are the ONLY people who do not know that we are planning to buy a house in March.

The bottom line is, tread carefully! Once a child grows up and leaves home, they have their own lives to lead and will come back to their parents for advice only when they want it. You can only guide them now when they ask for your guidance.


#3

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:2, topic:224093"]
How old are your sons? Have either of them asked for your help? They are at the age with they are looking for someone to settle down with and yes they do askAs well-meaning as parents are, unsolicited advice (especially about important topics) can come off as interfering. Any child at any age is going to pull back if they feel their parents are trying to control aspects of their lives that are truly none of their business. I don't know what your intent is, but it sounds like you are trying to prod your son into deciding whether he wants to marry his girlfriend. I think it would be a mistake to get involved. I was personally very grateful that my parents did not try to insert themselves into my decision about who to marry, and as a result I was very open and candid with them about it. I spoke freely to them because I knew they were not going to try to influence my decisions. I am assuming you don't have any grown, unmarried children.

However, they did try to influence when my husband and I had kids by asking me what kind of birth control I was on after the wedding, telling me I should wait until I was 30 to start, talking about how much of a burden kids are, saying I should enjoy a few years to ouselves before having kids, etc. Because of this they were the ONLY people we did not tell we were going to try for kids right away.

[/quote]

That's in-law meddling, not the subject I was asking about.

What I am asking about is what books, programs or general advice did you give your children about marriage and how to make good choices when they asked.


#4

My parents best advice to me was their day to day example of living the faith and the way they treated each other.


#5

When it came to the decision of who to marry, I had the exact opposite feelings as Charlotte. I knew overall that my emotional bias (regardless of striving to be chaste) may still blur my vision from seeing or acknowledging important red flags.

I would say what I appreciated the most was simply their kind hearted and humble expression of any concerns they have. Some of their concerns weren't legimate and just took them getting to know my husband a bit more. For instance, my husband and I are both a bit introverted. Both my mom and my mother-in-law were a little unsure about us and what our introverted nature meant. My mother-in-law interpretted my habitual nervous apologies as a manipulation tactic. It took her awhile to realize that when I meet new people, I'm petrified of doing something to offend them and will apoligize at the slightest hint that I may have offended them. So they made their concerns known, and remained open to reforming their opinions and eventually grew to like us very much. For some reason both our fathers liked us from the very beginning. I'm not sure if that's just the difference between men and women or what.

But as I said, you need to be humble about it, express your concerns like a good friend, but leave the ball in their court.

Now, if you have very large concerns against a particular union, that is a whole different business and may take some pastorial guidence. Its especially difficult if their maturity levels aren't going to permit them to sit down and rationally listen to any concerns you have, especially large concerns (like drug use, serious financial irresponsibility, an obvously abusive relationship). I know in the case of my youngest brother, my parents were having difficulty trying to deal with him on a mature level when such light footing only meant that my parents' were getting trampled on and used. I do think that if the concerns are large enough and you have two immature people basically demanding your money on their terms rather than your own, that its important to set out the ground rules. My parents ended up talking with their pastor. My Dad ended up writing my brother and his fiance' a letter which he read to them giving them the stipulations they'd have to follow for him to pay for a portion of their wedding. In the end, my brother and his fiance' decided not to agree to those stipulations and thus to accept that my parents would not be funding their wedding.

But beyond what you can say to them, my husband and I found that simply how well our parents lived out their married lives together inspired us more than any marriage prep course the Church offered. I really appreciate our relationship with both of them. I'm not saying that they're perfect and definitely independence is good, but they still have a lot more experience than we do.


#6

[quote="styrgwillidar, post:4, topic:224093"]
My parents best advice to me was their day to day example of living the faith and the way they treated each other.

[/quote]

Good stuff :)but what if the parents are divorced or not living a happy marriage:confused:?
Some young people (myself at that age) will need help from other sources. Where can they find good advice? Where can a parent send them to seek sound objective guidance in discerning marriage or a spouse?

By the way, I am not pushing my sons into marriage but I want them to have better guidance than I had at that age should they choose to marry. I had no help from my parents and made many mistakes, so did my husband. We would have loved a little support and help avoiding the pitfalls in bad marriages.

I had a meddling MIL who rather than support my marriage often was the cause of problems in my marriage. I often tell my husband if I had understood how much of a part In-laws play in a marriage, I would have made sure that my husband and I had a working agreement about how we handled them before getting married or I would not have married him. Those are the kind of things I want my sons to learn.

I am not trying to marry my sons off, or choose their spouse. I am trying to let them prepare for the hard parts of marriage and look for red flags, before they marry, so that they have good strong marriages. Once they are given the facts, it's up to them what they do with it. I've done my job.
I think is irresponsible for parents to remain silent as if they are interfering when they have good supportive information to share.

For example, your daughter comes home on a friday night, you ask where her fiance is and it turns out he is at the bar getting drunk. Are you going to talk about that or are you going to ignore it? Sorry, I'm going to talk about it.


#7

[quote="twoangels, post:5, topic:224093"]
When it came to the decision of who to marry, I had the exact opposite feelings as Charlotte. I knew overall that my emotional bias (regardless of striving to be chaste) may still blur my vision from seeing or acknowledging important red flags.

I would say what I appreciated the most was simply their kind hearted and humble expression of any concerns they have.

[/quote]

Thank you twoangels,
I found your whole post full of valuable opinons and insights.
I hope I can do as well as your parents and in-laws did.
Your post has help me to feel better about the direction I've been going in with my own children. I think my children appreciate my input too,I have asked them and they say that they know it's because I want what best for them and they know I love them. I remind them that I also want what best for their future spouses and children too:thumbsup:


#8

My children dated a little bit, not much, before they settled on their spouses. When they became very close to the ones they ended up with, I was very happy because I felt in my heart they had made wise decisions. So I would mention marriage, just to make sure they knew it was an option :p and they got the idea. I would tell them that marriage is for life, to treat their spouses like rare jewels, to be sweet, etc.
They all seem to be pretty happy, but they all (including all but one daught-in-law) come from intact families. I think they are in it for the long haul.


#9

[quote="m_crane, post:6, topic:224093"]
Good stuff :)but what if the parents are divorced or not living a happy marriage:confused:?
Some young people (myself at that age) will need help from other sources. Where can they find good advice? Where can a parent send them to seek sound objective guidance in discerning marriage or a spouse?

By the way, I am not pushing my sons into marriage but I want them to have better guidance than I had at that age should they choose to marry. I had no help from my parents and made many mistakes, so did my husband. We would have loved a little support and help avoiding the pitfalls in bad marriages.

I had a meddling MIL who rather than support my marriage often was the cause of problems in my marriage. I often tell my husband if I had understood how much of a part In-laws play in a marriage, I would have made sure that my husband and I had a working agreement about how we handled them before getting married or I would not have married him. Those are the kind of things I want my sons to learn.

I am not trying to marry my sons off, or choose their spouse. I am trying to let them prepare for the hard parts of marriage and look for red flags, before they marry, so that they have good strong marriages. Once they are given the facts, it's up to them what they do with it. I've done my job.
I think is irresponsible for parents to remain silent as if they are interfering when they have good supportive information to share.

For example, your daughter comes home on a friday night, you ask where her fiance is and it turns out he is at the bar getting drunk. Are you going to talk about that or are you going to ignore it? Sorry, I'm going to talk about it.

[/quote]

I was very blessed with having an older couple mentor me when I was single. They worked extensively in youth ministry, had seven children of their own and 23 grandchildren at the time. They opened up their house to young and old people that were interested in having a bible study/prayer group on a weekly basis. My parents were not the kind to talk about this kind of subject, even though they were married for 50 years themselves. But this couple, talked a lot about their own struggles and strengths of their marriage. They talked a lot about marriage being a vocation, how important it was to study our Catholic faith and to attend adoration and mass together as a couple, or bible studies, or retreats.

My daughter is only 11, I'm a long way from being where you are. Often times kids don't like to have this kind of talk with their own parents. I don't know if my parents had talked to me, or helped me discern if it would have had the same impact as this particular couple did. Maybe finding a married couple that teaches NFP or works on Engaged Encounter weekends or Marriage Encounter weekends would have some great suggestions? I was surrounded by couples that were living out their Catholic marriages to the best of their abilities, I mean really living out their faith, because of my involvement in youth ministry and these couples taking the effort to mentor to us younger Catholics.

I do know this when it comes to inlaws, I do think a married couple needs to be able to know that they always have each other's back, they never have to doubt that they are not a united team. No one, not family especially, should ever be able to undermine a married couple. My husband and I learned that the hard way as well, my MIL was very good at trying to undermine our decisions and insert herself in our relationship. It took awhile to really become "one flesh", especially when it came to extended family obligations.


#10

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