How does one assess if they are ready for marriage?


#1

Some people like to say they are not ready for marriage for the wrong reasons. For example, they may have the strange perception that one must be absolutely perfect before they can enter into marriage. Logically of course this can not be true because otherwise no one would ever get married.

But certainly there must be some basic "criteria" that can indicate whether someone is ready to enter into a marriage or not. Or more specifically, whether one is ready to even enter into a romantic relationship, since, if one isn't ready for a relationship one definitely isn't ready for marriage. Following me so far? I hope I am making sense :o

So let's say that a certain [Catholic] individual, male or female doesn't matter, has come to the conclusion after much discernment that God has chosen marriage as their vocation. Great. So now, the next step they want to accomplish is recognizing whether or not they are ready to go out looking for a potential spouse.

I have two questions: What qualities does one generally need to have in order to be ready to go searching....and....How does one assess if they have those qualities?

Please be as specific as possible. Like if you say one must be mature, I would appreciate it if you could elaborate. Thank you.;)

So what say ye? :hmmm:


#2

My experience of finding the man I was called to marry was different than the steps you’re taking, so let me just share and you can take what’s helpful and leave what’s not.

I have been led to believe, through my own experience, that we are not called to marriage in the abstract. That is, while each of us might think while we’re single that God is calling us to marriage eventually, we don’t fully discern a vocation to marriage until we are discerning marriage to a particular person. To me, it seems a bit backwards to pray, ask God if He’s calling me to marriage, think that the answer is yes, and then make a list of qualities I’m looking for in a spouse and “go searching”.

I’m not advocating having a bunch of relationships, but being in a relationship with someone is an important part of discerning marriage. For me I was in a relationship with one person and it led to marriage, not because we’re totally compatible and were 100% ready when we met (we weren’t), but because we committed ourselves to one another, grew together, and discerned a call from God that we were to spend our lives together.

A vocation is just not something one discerns without a particular person in mind, either to marriage or to the religious life. A man or woman is not even admitted as a postulant or novice or seminarian without first applying to a specific order or diocese and going through a discernment process with that order. Men and women discerning a call to the religious life will often tell you that they feel called to a particular order, spirituality, or community. The same goes for the vocation to marriage, it is a call to a particular person. Marriage involves a very personal love of another human being.

We may feel pulled to one particular vocation over the other, but all of us are called to openness to both marriage and the religious life, and we can only know for sure in which direction we should go when we experience a relationship with one or the other and discern that God is calling us to deepen that relationship. While we were dating, my husband began to feel called to investigate the priesthood more. He did, going on a discernment retreat with a specific order. When he returned from the retreat, he told me he had realized even more that he was called to me and to serve God in his life with me. He did not feel a similar call to the order with which he had discerned.

This post is probably not an answer you were looking to hear, but honestly it is very difficult for me to think of qualities one should have before “looking for” a spouse. Some people are totally unprepared for marriage when they meet the person who will be their future spouse, but by the grace of God they grow into the person they need to be in order to marry.

Every relationship is different, and God will bring a person into your life when you have some of the qualities that will enable you to build a fruitful relationship with that person, if that is His will. Even being in a relationship with them will change you in ways you could never imagine. This is good and to be expected, as one of the goals of marriage is to purify our spouses and transform them for heaven. It’s not a static relationship of two people who are fully ready in every way.

There are some things that I could suggest as a “bare minimum” in order to be ready to be in a romantic relationship with someone at all. An active prayer life, self-knowledge (meaning knowing what you stand for, what you believe, how you approach life, what your future goals are), flexibility (being able to accommodate another person’s quirks, living habits, and different ways of communicating, and being open to changing your own beliefs and ways of living as appropriate), emotional stability…These are all important qualities for anyone seeking a deeper relationship with others or thinking about making a lifelong commitment of any kind.

In the end, relationships are about commitment. Love is an act of the will, after all. If you are ready to commit to another person and are willing to love unconditionally, you’re ready to begin the tumultuous journey towards marriage.


#3

What Rachel said:thumbsup: But above all: ask yourself whether you are willing, day in/day out, to put your husband first, to constantly put yourself last. Also consider that if he even only ONCE strays (sexual infidelity), he could saddle you with a lifelong STD. Is that a risk you really want to take? In this day and age, marriage is a much riskier gamble than it was, say, 40+ years ago. It is not the only way to be happy.


#4

Wow Rach620 I really appreciate what you wrote! It was much more than I expected but nonetheless what I needed to understand :o

I like all of what you said, but generally speaking, the message I got from it was that people just need to be open to God's Will and the opportunities He presents for them. It may mean they may be led into religious life, married life, or some other type of vocation (like maybe God wants them to devote a lot of their time being a doctor). Of course the ultimate goal for anyone is to make it into Heaven so just because someone is single and doesn't feel called to religious life, that doesn't mean they should invest all their time and energy trying to find a spouse. Just be focused on spreading the Love of God to others and be open to opportunities.

There are some things that I could suggest as a "bare minimum" in order to be ready to be in a romantic relationship with someone at all. An active prayer life, self-knowledge (meaning knowing what you stand for, what you believe, how you approach life, what your future goals are), flexibility (being able to accommodate another person's quirks, living habits, and different ways of communicating, and being open to changing your own beliefs and ways of living as appropriate), emotional stability...These are all important qualities for anyone seeking a deeper relationship with others or thinking about making a lifelong commitment of any kind.

This is what I was hoping for as a response to my question. And it would seem that a person would need these qualities regardless of what vocation they are seeking, as you mentioned in that last sentence. Sounds good to me :thumbsup:

Berean2:
You are totally right that marriage isn't the only way to be happy.
And it definitely seems like it is much more of a risk nowadays. I think someone here on CAF said once that "there are no guarantees in this life." In the context of a marriage this could mean that we just never know what might happen. One of the spouses could die at a young age, one could choose to leave the marriage, one could fall away from the faith, or as you mentioned both spouses could end up with a lifelong STD due to one incident of infidelity on the part of one spouse. The list could go on. So I totally agree with you on that it would be nice to avoid that risk by just not getting married at all. And that may very well be what God's Will is for some people. Maybe even me too so I suppose I just have to wait & see ;)

What you wrote here is very simple and to the point:

But above all: ask yourself whether you are willing, day in/day out, to put your husband first, to constantly put yourself last.

As simple as it is, I am willing to bet that many of us single folk underestimate how incredibly difficult putting Real Love into practice can be. Worth it, but difficult. I appreciate your input.:thumbsup:


#5

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