How does marriage NOT distract from relationship with God?

:blush: These questions will likely reveal just how immature and ignorant I am, but I don’t care. I just need some feedback from faithful Catholics who can offer some personal insights.

I’m 47, a single mom (son’s 11), and am free to marry in the Catholic Church. Son’s dad left Church over 25 years ago and is now “spiritual, not religious.”

I recently decided to be open to dating and marriage – not that I have dated, but I did sign up for a membership on Catholic Match and have exchanged messages with a number of men in the past few months. Nothing’s come of any of that so far, haven’t even had a phone conversation or met anyone in person yet.

In the midst of that, I suddenly developed a horrible crush on a friend I met in April. I say “horrible” because it was unexpected and completely took over my brain for a couple of weeks. I’m used to being the professional, strong, in-control, mother-type who does not allow emotions much say in my life… or so I thought.

Anyway, the object of my crush (who didn’t know of my feelings at the time) kept reminding me that we should seek our happiness in God alone, that our consolation ultimately comes from God and He alone should be our strength, our hope, our comfort, the one we seek. “Perfect detachment” from the things of this world, including relationships with other humans. At the same time, he mentioned that marriage can be a beautiful thing. This just seemed inconsistent to me :shrug:

I’m a very contemplative person spiritually (two years in the monastery discerning I didn’t have a vocation there), so his words spoke to that monastic (one with God) part of me. I should be content to simply seek God alone, to view my singleness as my cross, and a lonely old age as my path to holiness, right? On the other hand, lately I just really want to be open to the possibility that God could call me to sacramental marriage.

I tend to overthink things, and now I’m completely confused.

What’s the point of marriage for someone past childbearing age? (pretty much beyond child-bearing, let’s be honest – and please don’t start bringing up those one-in-a-million women who conceive after age 50!)
Would getting married in mid-life really be choosing a spouse over God?
Shouldn’t I be seeking to belong to Him alone, using my singleness in His service?
Or can I serve Him through starting a marriage at my age?
And what’s the point of marriage if we’re just gonna die and belong to God alone in the end anyway? (my cousin’s wife just passed away, and it’s got me thinking…)
And how can you be married, and practice detachment from your spouse, from their love for you, from your love for them?

I feel like these experiences of being “open to the possibility” of marriage, and of being infatuated, are just signs that my love of God is not what it’s supposed to be. :bighanky:

A little perspective from you married folks would be most helpful.

Gertie
(lots of people say that name makes me seem like an old woman in her 80s - but that’s not my real name, and I assure you I am an active mom, DIY home re-modeler, goofy friend, and hyperactive elementary school music teacher :bounce:)

Do you remember from your monastic years that no one is allowed to be a hermit until he or she has learned to live in community?

We are not supposed to be detached from others. We’re supposed to be detached from ourselves. It is not uncommon that marriage lets us know how attached to having things our own way that we are!

The thing is, with these dating sites, they surely tend to be a bit forced. Sometimes just meeting someone by accident is more along the lines of being guided into something.

It seems you’re spending a lot of time thinking about it.

I would suggest praying about the idea. If you don’t then you aren’t seeking your Creator’s Will in the best way possible.

It could be that by your very expressions of the heart, that He has already spoken, so starting with the basis that you are thinking expressing a need for human love, and hoping for it, the next stage would be (better than dating sites, IMO, which are just cause and effect) to ask Him if this is something He would like you to do - meet someone special and possibly get married. Then, if something comes about after prayer, you can then discern if this is an answer or not by taking that eventuality back to Him again.

Love and Life in the Divine Plan Family (2011)
Sister Jane Dominic O.P.

"Openness to the mystery of God to lead us away from selfishness. To allow love to be definitive. What good is our marriage vows if they do not cost us anything? In marriage we give what we don’t even have to give- our future. Marriage is the mystery of the limit. God ( who is love ) teaches us the limit. He embraced the limit our human nature In His incarnet limit which had a limit of suffering on the cross to brings with Him into the limitless into the horizon of eternity across the threshold of divine love.

We imitate the way He loves by follow in His footsteps with our wedding vows, “'this one for all my life”. There by in embracing the limit we find entry into the limitless.

Marriage draws us out of ourselves. Those in heaven neither marry nor are given in marriage. This does not mean that your spouse is no longer important to you because it is your spouse who helped you to grow out of that selfish love. Your love was transformed & so in fact you’ll have an even more tender, purified, & deeper love for your spouse. That love will be transformed & taken in most perfectly & completely into Divine Love."

When love seeks to be definitive to the end it embraces the limit. And God himself who is love, he comes to teach us this mystery of loving in the limit. He embraced the limit of our human nature in the incarnation. The limit of suffering on the cross. He was nailed to it died on it. All to bring us with him Into the limitless. Into the horizon of eternity across the threshold of divine love. So we imitate his way of loving we imitate the one who is love … How … By following in his footsteps to embrace the limit into the limitless.

The measure of love is this, the amount of responsibility one takes for the beloved is the measure of love. A husband takes responsibility for his wife, for children; protects & provides. A wife takes responsibility for her husband, her children; nurtures & supports. God takes responsibility for us. He created us. Fell in love with us. Called us to love as he loves. When he turned away he came to suffer & die for us & to redeem us. He continues this work of redemption; this work of love everyday in the Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Celebrated from the rise of the sun to it’s setting. He is here right now for us in the Eucharist in all the tabernacles of the world. He will be here for us until the end of time.

Glory be to the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. As it was in the begging is now & ever shall be world without end. Amen

Out of all the things you considered, why did you not consider that this guy is simply wrong on the matter?

Plus, a ‘crush’ sounds a bit over-emotional. I’d be wary of crushes, if it were at all possible, when in that state, to be wary.

So, you are a music teacher! Think of how much you would enjoy a solo vocal performance. Then think of a duet. If the singers are harmonious, it is like heaven! The arithmetic of love is like that. If your relationship with a spouse is in harmony with your relationship with God, each relationship enriches the other. For all you know, you may save your husband, and he may save you.

Well dear friend,
Sounds to me like he absolutely realized that you were already too into him, and he was trying to steer you to holier things rather than hurt your feelings.
Sounds like a nice guy.
Indeed, if we’re looking for a person to complete us…we’ll surely be disappointed.
I didn’t “complete” Joe (whom I met online, btw). We compliment each other. Hopefully for the glory of God. We love our children (my daughters) equally and with great compassion and tenderness. That gives God glory. We go to Mass together, pray together, volunteer together, work in the church together, all of which gives glory to God. We are also singularly in love with God, singularly learning the faith and serving others as well.
It’s never an either/or.
It’s a both/and.
Peace dear friend!
Clare

I think I failed in the area of clarity. Here’s the part that I’d like addressed in this thread:

**What’s the point of marriage for someone past childbearing age? (pretty much beyond child-bearing, let’s be honest – and please don’t start bringing up those one-in-a-million women who conceive after age 50!)
Would getting married in mid-life really be choosing a spouse over God?
Shouldn’t I be seeking to belong to Him alone, using my singleness in His service?
Or can I serve Him through starting a marriage at my age?
And what’s the point of marriage if we’re just gonna die and belong to God alone in the end anyway? (my cousin’s wife just passed away, and it’s got me thinking…)
And how can you be married, and practice detachment from your spouse, from their love for you, from your love for them?

I feel like these experiences of being “open to the possibility” of marriage, and of being infatuated, are just signs that my love of God is not what it’s supposed to be.:bighanky: **

I’m already praying – daily mass, holy hour, adoration as possible, confession twice a month. But I always appreciate the reminder to stick with it :thumbsup:

Gertie

He said he was clueless about my feelings…and yes, he is nice. But as I’ve gotten to know him better, it’s pretty easy to believe that he probably was actually clueless :whistle:

Indeed, if we’re looking for a person to complete us…we’ll surely be disappointed.
I didn’t “complete” Joe (whom I met online, btw). We compliment each other. Hopefully for the glory of God. We love our children (my daughters) equally and with great compassion and tenderness. That gives God glory. We go to Mass together, pray together, volunteer together, work in the church together, all of which gives glory to God. We are also singularly in love with God, singularly learning the faith and serving others as well.
It’s never an either/or.
It’s a both/and.

Peace dear friend!
Clare

Thanks for sharing your experiences on this. Greatly appreciated as I whine and suffer my way through this :blush: Complacency seems much easier than being open to God’s leading. But your thoughts have given me a new perspective.

Gertie

Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.

§2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.

Can. 1056 The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of the sacrament.

Notice: not just for the procreation and education of offspring, but ALSO for the good of the spouses.

The answer is: Yes. Yes, you can use your singleness in His service and yes, you can come to see that you can serve God by choosing to join yourself in one life with a spouse.

What’s the point of anything, if we’re just gonna die and belong to God alone in the end anyway? Why join a religious community? Why build a church? Why start a school? Why make friends? Why keep in touch with your siblings?

We also cannot be so arrogant that we think we do all the giving and none of the receiving, that we are always “serving others” and never in need of anything from anyone else. We are people in need of love. We are people in need of the help of our fellow human beings. We are people in need of the Body of Christ. That is the way we are made. To marry is to form a domestic church, a Church in microcosm. Yes, it can be a distraction, but Christ would not have elevated marriage to a sacrament and the Church would not admit those believed to be infertile to the sacrament if that is all it ever is.

I don’t get where you got this idea that you’re supposed to “practice detachment” from your spouse. That sounds like a Buddhist thing. You can fast from any good thing, including the marital embrace, in order to devote yourself to prayer and fasting, but that doesn’t mean that a Christian ought to renounce all things that give pleasure. We have both fasts and feasts for a reason.

Maybe your experience that you are capable of an infatuation just means that you don’t control your feelings all of the time. You have a certain amount of poverty when it comes to your power over yourself. Is it so bad to realize that?

I would not try to build a marriage on an infatuation, because it is based on feelings that are notorious for their fickle nature. I wouldn’t rule out marriage based on my realization that I’m not to old nor too “detached” from my impulses to have a crush on somebody. Those who think they’ve got themselves in hand are infamous for having huge falls. Think of yourself as just like everyone else in that regard, and it will upset you far less.

Now, if pleasing some certain guy makes you anxious instead of helping you to serve the Lord even better, then don’t marry him. As St Paul put it, it is better to spare yourself that. Still, “where two or three are gathered in My name…”…if you help each other, then marriage could profit you spiritually just as much as in other ways that are more fleeting.

He said he was clueless about my feelings…and yes, he is nice. But as I’ve gotten to know him better, it’s pretty easy to believe that he probably was actually clueless

He doesn’t at all sound clueless. He sounds like a gentleman.

I don’t think either of them meant “clueless” in the sense of “thick-witted.” I think they just meant “entirely unaware.”

Wow. Thanks.

I should have asked for help here weeks ago. This has been a huge help.

Gertie

Yay! Questions! :slight_smile:

“What’s the point of marriage for someone past childbearing age? (pretty much beyond child-bearing, let’s be honest – and please don’t start bringing up those one-in-a-million women who conceive after age 50!)”

Marriage is for unity and procreation! So, if you cannot have children, then at least you can be united in a sacrament with your spouse. There are many women who had trouble with conceiving in the bible who were still married and sought a relationship with God, just as there are women now that do the same.

Would getting married in mid-life really be choosing a spouse over God?

Not really… marriage is doesn’t “replace” God at all. He’s still the Bridegroom… just, as a married person, you get to understand a little more of what being the Bridegroom is. So, as a spouse, you get a profound understanding of what it means to sacrifice yourself out of love for a person, in good times, in bad times, and everything in between.

Shouldn’t I be seeking to belong to Him alone, using my singleness in His service? Or can I serve Him through starting a marriage at my age?

Yes, you should, seeing as you are single. But, if you ever get married, then you can use your marriage in His service. Just because you’re married means that you can’t live for God! Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t serve God! We are all called to live our lives for God and in service to Him.

And what’s the point of marriage if we’re just gonna die and belong to God alone in the end anyway? (my cousin’s wife just passed away, and it’s got me thinking…)

Marriage is a sacramental union! Sacraments always bring us closer to God in some way. And yeah, we’re totally going to die, and that’s really hard. But, marriage helps you learn how to unconditional love in pretty intense ways… and that’s a taste of heaven right there.

And how can you be married, and practice detachment from your spouse, from their love for you, from your love for them?

You should not rely completely on any one thing for everything, aside from God. God is the only thing we can rely on for everything and anything. Even the best of spouses sometimes fails. I try to be a good wife, and Lord knows that I fail more often than I would like to admit. But, even if I fail my husband sometimes, my husband can always find refuge in God. So, if/when your spouse inevitably fails, you sigh, say a Hail Mary, realize he’s not perfect, and forgive him.

Too often, spouses expect everything from their other spouse, including creating their own happiness, and that can lead to problems. If he is the only thing that you rely on, you’re going to have a hard time. You need to rely on God as well, and let God work through you in your marriage when you need to forgive, be patient, and (if necessary) share the load (even when you really don’t want to). So, that’s a good sort of detachment.

But, marriage hopefully creates that beautiful agape unconditional love, and I think that God rejoices when He sees that sort of love. When I am loved by my husband, I bask in it freely and – sometimes! – it’ll hit me that God’s love for me is even more, and that will make me feel even more loved and cherished, for I feel totally loved.

What’s the point of marriage for someone past childbearing age? (pretty much beyond child-bearing, let’s be honest – and please don’t start bringing up those one-in-a-million women who conceive after age 50!)

The point is that in marriage the two become one and in this conjugal union you find he image of God. That image in present even if the union is not fecund despite the couple being open to life.

Sorry for the word about September babies but babies conceived during perimenopause and menopause occur in one out of 1200 pregnancies (not a million) and makeup 60% or better of the high risk pregnancies.

Would getting married in mid-life really be choosing a spouse over God? NO
Shouldn’t I be seeking to belong to Him alone, using my singleness in His service?Not necessarily/
Or can I serve Him through starting a marriage at my age?Absolutely/
And what’s the point of marriage if we’re just gonna die and belong to God alone in the end anyway? (my cousin’s wife just passed away, and it’s got me thinking…)
And how can you be married, and practice detachment from your spouse, from their love for you, from your love for them?” *** The point is two people helping each other to grow in Christ, images of Christ who loves the Church and the Church who loves only her Lord*** feel like these experiences of being “open to the possibility” of marriage, and of being infatuated, are just signs that my love of God is not what it’s supposed to be.

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.
1 Corinthians 7:8.

Now in regard to virgins I have no commandment from the Lord,[k] but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that. 1 Corinthians 7 25:28

I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

If anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, and if a critical moment has come[n] and so it has to be, let him do as he wishes. He is committing no sin; let them get married. The one who stands firm in his resolve, however, who is not under compulsion but has power over his own will, and has made up his mind to keep his virgin, will be doing well. So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better.
1 Corinthians 32:39

Ah, nothing more gratifying to a teacher than someone who loves questions :smiley:

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

This thread is seriously helping me to get my feet back on solid ground. God bless each and every one of you!

Gertie

Well, no actually, I had completely forgotten about that :blush: I get a lot of community time as a teacher, parish volunteer, but I clearly have gaping holes in my maturity with regard to relating to men… Thank God this life is short!

Gertie

Holy cow, woman! I’ve been thinking about this all afternoon, and I am so thankful for your words of wisdom. You are absolutely on the right track with this, and I think I even see the next step I need to take because of this. So truly, thank you.

Gertie

I would not be hard on yourself on the front of “maturity with regard to relating to men.” The entire genre of romantic farce is built on the obvious truism that the anxiety and excitement that can come from sexual attraction will often make the wise feel as if they are fools. It does mess with the brain chemicals! :smiley:

If you find a fellow Catholic who both attracts you in a sexual way and has a good effect on your practice of the faith (and vice versa), you could easily be looking at someone with whom you could have a marriage that is very pleasing to God. Perhaps you will be there to take care of each other in your old age, perhaps you will be able to extend hospitality in ways that are hard for a single person to do, perhaps you will be able to support each other in outreach to those you serve both inside and outside the Church. By a life of mutual respect, kindness, and charity towards all, you can even be an example for other married couples who do have children or, though younger than you, are coming to terms with how to make a childless marriage one that is fruitful all the same.

You may not run across someone who adds to your ability to love God and your neighbor, but might only run across prospects who prove more a distraction than a help to your spiritual life. That’s fine. In that case, don’t get married. That is OK, too.

I have been happily married for many years, but if I were widowed I am old enough that I would take St. Paul’s advice and not go looking for a marriage unless I was “on fire” with regards to keeping the virtue of chastity. That’s just me, though. I have relatives who are widowed, and the loneliness of the single life is very hard on them. They want someone to share their life, their home, and their spiritual life with. I don’t fault them for looking for a spouse, either. It is a question that you and the Lord can answer together.

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