Important to concider before Marriage


#1

Hi everyone

I’m looking for advice from those of you who are married.

What would you advise a dating couple to concider before getting married? What issues are deal breakers and what are up for discussion? Also, what is reasonable to expect out of marriage? How much should come from effort and how much should just “be there”?

Any advice would be most welcome! Maybe advice you wish you had been given before you married.


#2

You’ve got some huge questions here, but I think you’ve come to the right place for answers. The first thing I’d advise a dating couple is to make a commitment to chastity and do not break that commitment until your wedding night. Next, that women should read “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” bt Dr. Laura or a book like it to help them understand the inner workings of men before marriage. I would also encourage you to find a similar bood for your boyfriend that might help shed some light on women in general and your personality in particular. Also, the discipline of a family budget can be honed if the each member of the engaged couple can track their expenses before marriage to establish an important habit. Money values are very important to discuss before marriage and whether the mother should stay at home with their babies or work. Finally, spiritual matters should be addressed very early on such as one’s devotion to the sacraments, prayer, openness to children, and particularly regarding the demanding teachings of the Church on issues such as birth control and abortion. That is about all I can think about right now!


#3

READ THIS BOOK!!!
mycatholicstore.com/abofchoosgoo.html

ABC’s of choosing a good husband
and
ABC’s of choosing a good wife
both by Steve Wood.

Very good Catholic advice.
–Rebecca


#4

The first thing I’d advise a dating couple is to make a commitment to chastity and do not break that commitment until your wedding night.

This is a common misconception. Do not break your commitment to chastity ever! Chastity is NOT synonymous with abstinence/continence/virginity.

Marital chastity is simply different from unmarried chastity. I second everything else said in the first post, but then again I’m not married yet either.


#5

Nowadays, I’d start with Christopher West’s “Marriage and the Eucharist” (available for free) or a similar topic by Fr. Corapi…

This helps both parties begin to comprehend what a sacramental marriage is supposed to be like…

it enables the two to discuss whether or not that type of marriage is what they are seeking.

I agree with BeckyAnn’s recommended reading list too.


#6

The natural friendship and attraction should just “be there.” At the end of the day, that needs to be a “given” You don’t want to have to struggle to enjoy the other person’s company, or ignore feeling repelled by them. The maturity should “be there” Im not talking about the usual personal growth, but it should be a person who wants to commit to a marriage “for keeps,” that divorce is not an option in the back of his or her mind. There might be times down the line where a couple struggles with the friendship and attraction but you don’t want to start out that way.Some red flags that the person is not mature enough for marriage:

Game playing (trying to make the other person jealous, get attention or whatever with mind games, trying to annoy the other person)

Dishonesty (If the person is habitually dishonest now, even about little things, how will the suddenly change after marriage.)

Selfishness (does the person give of him or herself out of a sense of love for others and duty as a son or daughter of God, or is it an obviously selfish love

The most important topics to think about:

***Religious views. Not just “are the Catholic” but are they a “practicing Catholic” who isn’t just going ot Mass because they think it will “fill the slot” but that they live their faith everyday. Does the person’s loyalty lie with God or with materialism, or some other addiction.

****Desire for children, what they will do when they feel that they are "finished having children, will they be open to NFP or will they want sterilization? Are they prolife? It would be a deal breaker for me if the person wasn’t pro-life because I would see that as a serious issue with morality and value of human life.

+++ Reason for Marriage: Why does the person want to be married? Marriage is a vocation to be taken as seriously as entering the priesthood. Do you share the same family values? Does that person realize that they will need to give 110% ? Do they know that marriage is self sacrificing, life changing and that without God’s grace, nearly an impossible feat?

+++ The person must share your basic values, or it will be a conflict later, especially with the addition of children.

+++ Communication skills, It is much easier to choose a mate who already has good communication skills. Develop good communication while dating, long before considering marriage.

**+++Emotional maturity **

Addiction and abuseive behaviour are not a good way to start out a marriage. If the person overuses alcohol or drugs, or if they have a problem with rage, it will not magically change with marriage. Marriage is difficult enough without starting it out with serious problems.

Making a commitment to chastity is the most important thing you can do for your marriage. You will be assured that the person likes you for who you are, and will be able to judge clearly whether he or she is the right person for you. When a couple has sexual relations, it is intended to be a great spiritual bond. I have seen it so many times, people stay together because the closeness they feel during sex makes them think stay with the person, perhaps allowing the person they were intended to marry walk past. It is also a bad idea to start out a marriage without the Grace of God.


#7

Core beliefs.

What are your “core beliefs”?

I met someone who just got engaged. The person I met is “Catholic”, but doesn’t know what religion the fiance is.

Hello??? knock, knock, knock… hel-lo-ooo… anybody home in there… knock, knock, knock… hel-lloooo!!! ]


#8

Some other good reading material that I found very beneficial:

Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West

A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage: For Better Forever
by: Gregory Popcak

Also, one thing that really helped us was learning about NFP during our pre cana weekend. DH & I were happy to know that this was something that was morally acceptable in the church, easy to learn, and was medically safe. Plus it put the responsibility on both of us when it came to learning about our fertility. We took classes before our wedding date and then were able to apply it immediately once we were married.


#9

As Fr. Corapi says… “Find someone who will help you get to heaven”. A marriage is of three, you, your spouse and God. So I would start with someone who is of the same faith. I would look for someone that you can reveal you most innermost thoughts. Someone honest. Someone you can grow with. Someone you enjoy doing everything with. Someone that knows everything about you, loves your for who you are. This may be corny but, I’d go with 1 Corinthians 13, find someone who is patient, kind. They do not envy or boast or is pround. Not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Who does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Someone who protects, always trusts, alway hopes, always perseveres.

One last thing, I was on a retreat was talking with a man who is a divorce lawyer. He did an informal survey and the number one thing that he found in common with lasting marriages is that they never consider divorce as an option, it never enters their mind.


#10

[quote=Love_2B_an_EM] One last thing, I was on a retreat was talking with a man who is a divorce lawyer. He did an informal survey and the number one thing that he found in common with lasting marriages is that they never consider divorce as an option, it never enters their mind.
[/quote]

I was speaking with my dad’s new wife, and I siad something like, My husband and I will never get divorced, when the topic of a friends ugly divorce was brought up. She got a little defensive and siad, “nobody ever plans on getting a divorce”. That might be true, but I can’t help but think they felt it was atleast an option in the back of their heads.

They are protestant, so the idea of divorce and remarriage is widely accepted. I think for faithful catholics, it is a much bigger deal.


#11

I thank God every day that my husband didn’t insist that his spouse be Catholic. When we met and were married, I was not a Catholic and had no intention of ever converting. I did eventually join the Catholic church because of its richness and my openness. I just have to add that being open to God is more important than being Catholic. My husband and I never would have gotten married if he had insisted that I be a practicing Catholic. The irony is that his previous fiance before me was a practicing Catholic and they had less in common religiously and spiritually that he and I did and I was not Catholic. Just something to think about. Sometimes religion gets in the way of our relationship with God.

Aside from this, I think it is important that you know who you are. Know who you are and what you want before you ever get married. You and your mate must see eye to eye on this. It is really difficult to define a deal breaker because everyone is different. Some of my husband’s personality quirks would drive some people completely nuts, but I find them endearing and cute. This is why I say it is so important to know yourself and be honest with what you can and cannot live with. Just think, is this something that I could live with day in and day out for the rest of my life. Don’t ever expect marriage to make someone grow up.

The most important thing is that you should not ever have to change for someone else before you get married. They should love you just the way you are. Once you get married, there will be plenty of other stuff to deal with. The big stuff needs to be dealt with and addressed before ever getting married (number of children, work, family, religion, where to live, priorities, goals, holidays, education, etc.) You and your mate must see each other as equals, be friends, and respect each other.

I know it sounds silly but a lot of times you will just know when it is right. If you find yourself having doubts, then this probably isn’t the person for you. My husband and I were both engaged prior to our relationship and we had doubts that we just couldn’t really put our finger on. Don’t ever try to second guess yourself about any doubts that you may be having. Too many people ignore the doubts because they want to be married or don’t want to fail. It is better to walk away before marriage than it is to disgrace the sacrament of marriage. This is why seeing a priest and going through marriage prep is so important. I think marriage prep or some kind of premarital counseling should be a requirement for everybody that is going to get married.


#12

Another great book suggestion:

Husband and Wife
By Fr. Paul Wicken.

You can get it from Tan Books for $9. This is what www.tanbooks.com said about it:

“Fr. Wickens outlines the principles of Catholic marriage in a succinct yet dignified and insightful manner that will both tickle the reader’s funny bone and soberly enlighten and inspire him with the reasonableness, practicality and holy purpose of the institution of marriage as it was created by God…”

My husband and I read it while we were dating, and it helped us tremendously to have an idea of our purpose in dating and what we had to look forward to in marriage. We re-read it periodically to help remind us of what our responsiblities to each other are, and to remind us of the wonderfulness of each other and the sacrament of marriage!

Also, Love and Responsibility, by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II). This book is especially good if you want to get into the philosophy that supports the Church teachings on marriage.


#13

Also explore what the other person consider normal, such as level of curtesy in the home, attitudes towards how children should be raised, role of the male in the family, role of the female in the family, strengths of each person, weaknesses of each person, any abusive backgrounds in either past, etc.


#14

What would you advise a dating couple to concider before getting married?

What is your goal for your intended spouse? It should be to be your spouse’s path to heaven. If you don’t think you can be this, don’t get married.

What issues are deal breakers and what are up for discussion?

I don’t recommend delving into previous intimacy, if there is some. Your past is your past and their’s is their’s. Why put someone in a position to envision you being intimate with another? The only reason that one would need to discuss this is if there are children or health problems because of it.

Discuss your famililies to death. Everyone brings in tons from their families. If you seem something that is different from what your family is like, discuss to death. Especially for the first few years, from what I’ve seen, families can make for some big problems.

Deal breakers vary from person to person. If you can’t let the toothpaste be squeezed in the middle - don’t get married. It’s quite impossible to see what your spouse will be like in the future. My husband is not the same man I married 15 years ago. This doesn’t mean they become bad people but they will change. I’d look at his habits and views now. If there is something that really bothers you, it will only be magnified after you are married. You have to assess whether you can live with it. If not, don’t get married. The old sage advise of don’t expect to change them rings true.

Also, what is reasonable to expect out of marriage?

I think you need to discuss what you both want for marriage and bring up things that could alter this plan and how you would handle them. It’s impossible to know the scenarios that will come up but children, health issues, deaths, etc. are some of those that usually pop up in most marriages. Is the goal to be working together on these issues or seperately.

How much should come from effort and how much should just “be there”?

Wow! That’s a tough one. I’d say effort is the majority of it with a big dose of humility, humor and forgiveness to go along with it. In the early years of our marriage, everything seemed to be serious. We’ve learned along the way to basically not be so full of ourselves. We’ve realized that we are both very fallible people so we’ve learned to cut each other slack which is made things go a hole lot smoother. It’s not like we had a bad marriage. It’s just easier now.

I had my eyes wide open when I got into marriage. I don’t think I’d say the same about my husband. I knew it would be a lot of work and I’m not sure he knew how hard it would be. Now, I’d have to say he’s “the work horse” around here and he takes his vocation very seriously.

Good luck!


#15

I’m not married but my favorite new book is “The Exclamation: the Wise Choice of a Spouse for Catholic Marriage” by Patricia A. Wrona.

It explains how to discern God’s will in general and then for picking a spouse. It also has a section on mutual discernment for once you think you have the right person!


#16

[quote=Cadence] What would you advise a dating couple to concider before getting married?
[/quote]

Personally I recommend going through two books together:

For Better… Forever by Greg Popcak
Date Or Soul Mate by Neil Clark Warren

[quote=Cadence] What issues are deal breakers and what are up for discussion?
[/quote]

Everyone’s deal breakers are unique to that person. I recommend that you write down your ten deal breakers and your ten must haves (this idea comes from the book I mention above, “Date or Soul Mate”). It’s preferrable to write down these before you begin dating anyone specific. If a prospective suitor exhibits a deal breaker or fails to demonstrate a must-have… then you know to discontinue the relationship after a suitable time has passed.

If I had to state some general deal breakers they would be:

Different in the practice of religion including whether the couple practices the same faith and to the same degree (I know people who have been fooled by Catholic-in-name-only types).

Difference in ambition, social status, career goals, and ideas of financial security. Some people want to be a CEO or a PhD by the time they are 30, and that will not be compatible with the spouse who wants their husband home nights and weekends. It’s not that any ambition is right or wrong, but that they must be the same.

Difference in ideas of family life, division of household labor, roles, and children.

Those would be the top three in my mind. But, there are others. Get the book, it’s really great for giving you ideas of things to think about.

[quote=Cadence] Also, what is reasonable to expect out of marriage? How much should come from effort and how much should just “be there”?
[/quote]

Marriage is great effort every day. It is not 50/50, but 100/100 that gets the job done. You give your whole self, every day.

[quote=Cadence] Any advice would be most welcome! Maybe advice you wish you had been given before you married.
[/quote]

Discuss your finances* in detail*. Once you are to the point of engagement, you should share your income, expenses, buget, debt, savings, all of it. Make a budget for your combined household before you get married, and also make and stick to a wedding budget. Discuss who will handle the bills, what you will combine and keep separate, etc. If you have goals such as a stay-at-home mom, then make not only a married-couple budget but a plan to get the spouse out of the workforce in X number of years, an insurance plan, and a savings plan. Get the book Smart Couples Finish Rich and anything by Dave Ramsey for starters.


#17

I’ll tell you what NOT to worry about:* What dress you’ll wear, and how much it cost.

  • DJ or band?
  • How many bridesmaids/ groomsmen, and do they all match in height and look like runway models?
  • Whether or not to go “parish shopping” to find a better looking interior for your photos.

Concern yourselves with the internal, spiritual stuff mentioned here, and all the rest will probably fall into place.


#18

Thankyou everyone for your advice so far.

I certainly appreciate it the wisdom you are all able to impart.

I am in a situation where we have the shared values, dedication to our faith, divorce not an option, physical attraction, friendship - all of that stuff.
The issue we have is that my family live in one country, he and his mother in another. I am currently in the same country as him on a working holiday. He is an only child and his mother is alone - no family around - so he feels he must stay in the same country as her. He worries that if I stay here with him that I will eventually resent him when I miss MY family.
Also, there are little personality things that annoy him - like my disorganisation over financial issues.

We are just discussing whether these things are “deal breakers” or not. Neither of us have ever found anyone we are so compatable with before - we both want the same things out of life and place the same importance on God, the Church and family. We also love each other dearlie.


#19

The issue we have is that my family live in one country, he and his mother in another. I am currently in the same country as him on a working holiday. He is an only child and his mother is alone - no family around - so he feels he must stay in the same country as her.

Has he checked to see if she might be willing to move for him?

He worries that if I stay here with him that I will eventually resent him when I miss MY family.

I am very attached to my family so I would have had to consider this long and hard. I don’t think I would have resented him but my missing them might have made it hard to be cheerful and I’m sure it would be hard to live with a depressed me!

Also, there are little personality things that annoy him - like my disorganisation over financial issues.

Can he handle the finances?

We are just discussing whether these things are “deal breakers” or not. Neither of us have ever found anyone we are so compatable with before - we both want the same things out of life and place the same importance on God, the Church and family. We also love each other dearlie.

It sounds like you are on the right track.


#20

[quote=ConcernCatholic]I thank God every day that my husband didn’t insist that his spouse be Catholic. When we met and were married, I was not a Catholic and had no intention of ever converting. I did eventually join the Catholic church because of its richness and my openness. I just have to add that being open to God is more important than being Catholic. My husband and I never would have gotten married if he had insisted that I be a practicing Catholic. The irony is that his previous fiance before me was a practicing Catholic and they had less in common religiously and spiritually that he and I did and I was not Catholic. Just something to think about. Sometimes religion gets in the way of our relationship with God.

Aside from this, I think it is important that you know who you are. Know who you are and what you want before you ever get married. You and your mate must see eye to eye on this. It is really difficult to define a deal breaker because everyone is different. Some of my husband’s personality quirks would drive some people completely nuts, but I find them endearing and cute. This is why I say it is so important to know yourself and be honest with what you can and cannot live with. Just think, is this something that I could live with day in and day out for the rest of my life. Don’t ever expect marriage to make someone grow up.

The most important thing is that you should not ever have to change for someone else before you get married. They should love you just the way you are. Once you get married, there will be plenty of other stuff to deal with. The big stuff needs to be dealt with and addressed before ever getting married (number of children, work, family, religion, where to live, priorities, goals, holidays, education, etc.) You and your mate must see each other as equals, be friends, and respect each other.

I know it sounds silly but a lot of times you will just know when it is right. If you find yourself having doubts, then this probably isn’t the person for you. My husband and I were both engaged prior to our relationship and we had doubts that we just couldn’t really put our finger on. Don’t ever try to second guess yourself about any doubts that you may be having. Too many people ignore the doubts because they want to be married or don’t want to fail. It is better to walk away before marriage than it is to disgrace the sacrament of marriage. This is why seeing a priest and going through marriage prep is so important. I think marriage prep or some kind of premarital counseling should be a requirement for everybody that is going to get married.
[/quote]

My husband wasn’t Catholic either, but he was strongly drawn to the Church, but after almost 11, years still hasn’t made it “official” because the deacon who presided over our marriage, told him that “It would be OK to receive communion, just not to tell the priest he wasn’t officially Catholic yet.” It was because my husband has such a strong and deep belief in the true presence, but it was still wrong information and has made it easier not to make it “official” with RCIA, conversion and Confirmation. He was raised Lutheran BTW. I have been praying that he will take that step, but am exceedingly thankful that he goes to Mass every week, etc.

I wouldn’t say that the spouse not being “Catholic” is a deal breaker, but as someone who has spent 11 years of hoping and praying, I think it’s a serious consideration. I can’t imagine the sadness and disconnection I would feel if he wasn’t “practicing” as much as possible. I pray he makes that step. When we got married, It was understood that he woudl go through the necessary steps that year, but he just keeps putting it off and I keep patiently praying and hoping, I don’t want to force him.

It is a bigger consideration than I realized at the age of 20.


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