Marriage or Religious Life


I am a 19 year old girl (I’ll be twenty in a few days :slight_smile: ). I know that it is a bit early to seriously be worrying about the marriage, religious life question, but it is a question that has been concerning me a good deal lately. I live in Montana, so there are relatively few resources available to me to explore this topic, which is why I thought I would pose these questions on a forum…not the best option I know, but it is an option and better than nothing! I am currently in the process of praying for and looking for a spiritual director though as I said, I live in Montana and the options aren’t very extensive.

I think the idea of being a nun has always been in the back of my mind, for as long as I can remember, though perhaps never seriously. More and more, recently, the thought has been nagging at me, however. I’ve begun to consider it as a real option, and not as something I “wish I could do”. When I really seriously think about it…the idea of spending my entire life with Jesus and with God makes me feel like the happiest and luckiest person alive, and I realize I want absolutely nothing more.

The idea of marriage and children and a family doesn’t make me nearly as happy, but the idea of love does. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart…a fairy tale sort of girl. I’ve spent most of my life dreaming about a prince charming. I realize that Jesus could be my prince charming (and the romantic side of me absolutely loves that idea) but then I become incredibly sad when I realize that would mean never having a man who could hold me or talk to me, cook me dinner or let me cry on his shoulder. Jesus is ten times better…but he isn’t solid. He isn’t physically there, and that kills me. Also, when thinking about religious life, sometimes I become unbelievably frightened. Does the fact that I feel any sort of aversion towards religious life point towards it not being for me? Or is this normal?The idea of not being religious is just as painful as the idea of not being married. Is it normal to feel such conflicting views on a vocation?

Another problem I have, is that I’m an only child. Perhaps my largest problem with religious life, is that I would feel incredibly guilty if my mom never got to have grandchildren. Also, then I wouldn’t be there to care for my parents as they aged…I feel like they need me, and I want to be there for them. How big of a problem does being an only child pose to religious life?

Sorry for so many questions and thanks in advance :),



Be mindful, Erin, that religious Life doesn’t leave you to spend all your life with Jesus alone, but also with others. You would be part of a community and these people will be your family with their faults and this can be as much a trial as husband and children.
Whatever life we live, the Lord must be central to our life, but as Jesus showed in Matthew 25 verses 31-46, He requires us to live practical acts of kindness, whether to our own family, our religious family, and to the community.
None of the options are without problems and without possible trials and personality issues, however all require us to be close both to God and to people whom God places in our lives, as He shall.

It does sound as if your imagination receives a lot of free reign in contemplating the future, which isn’t unnatural at your age.
In any life, practical reality is the over-riding experience in most people’s lives. There aren’t any prince charmings. Just as we ourselves have faults and flaws, so do all others.
Romantic notions in any life must give way to living our lives in practical kindness towards others, and that isn’t always easy. Jesus said that practical kindness to others is kindness to Him, and His command is to love God above all and others as if they were ourselves in whatever life we lead.
Sometimes we don’t know what is ahead, and we just need to let it unfold as we meet the responsibilities of our present life

I pray that you will find your way and that your life will be very blessed.

Sometimes the guidelines for our lives are in the actual circumstances of our lives, like the fact of being an only child and not having a clear certainty of, for instance, Religious life.
I do know a priest who was an only child of atheists but became a Jesuit.
It was sad indeed for his parents, yet good regarding their salvation I would imagine.

However, it is good that you are seeking a spiritual director, as no one here can give you sure direction for your future.

May God bountifully bless you, Erin


Hahaha I suppose my imagination does get a lot of free reign (I’m a writer, imagining is what I do lol), and while that’s not necessarily good, I’m also not quite as well…childish…as I suppose I just made myself sound. “Prince charming” was more just a term I used…I don’t think of it in the conventional way. I understand that everyone has faults, and I am one hundred percent okay with that. In fact, I would want my husband to have faults…because he’s human and so am I! Nothing is perfect (except God of course), and I think that imperfection is beautiful. My romantic notions also, are rather the opposite of not realizing practical kindness and the difficulties of life. Which is part of the problem. I’m not sure if maybe my longing for the religious life partly comes out of my own human heart–I have a tendency to take the path that’s most difficult. Living on the streets caring for the poor like Mother Theresa, that is a romantic notion to me. I just want to make sure that I am not being too radical, and doing what God wants and not what I want.


And thank you for your reply, it was helpful :). I got to carried away with my clarifications...I forgot to say thank you! So thanks. May God bless you too!


Living on the streets might not necessarily always as hard as being wife and mother! I know, dear Erin as I’m mother of three grown sons and I’ve been through so much for them, and I smile a little gently because I’ve also been through hard things regarding my dear grandchildren, one of whom is your age. I hope I didn’t sound harsh as I tend to feel gentleness towards others especially when they’re my grandchildren’s ages. When you said you were 19…well :slight_smile:
I’m blessed because I’m very close to my grandchildren and good friends with them, and they don’t think of me as old nor do I even have gray hair. My granddaughter and I have the most special of relationships. Sometimes we seem like sisters in our relationship

It’s hard not to know the future, and of course you are full of hopes.
I wanted to be a nun but the Lord had other plans. I wanted to be a Carmelite contemplative, and in those days I didn’t think how hard it might be living relentless endless years with the same community, more or less, with whatever foibles, and I’ve known nuns who found others’ of the community’s company very difficult.

We have our families, or our communities, to help make saints of us!
You don’t have to make a decision just yet.
You can test out a vocation by asking an appropriate convent if they will allow you to live in with them to enable your discernment and theirs. In the meantime I presume you will have or seek work to give you more experience of life, but may our dear Lord guide and protect you. You are of course a unique person whom God loved into existence and whose unique vocation and purpose is only truly known by Him


Hi Erin,

Reading your post, I found myself drawing many similarities between what you describe and what I am currently experiencing. I am 20, and have also been considering my vocation and dealing with this very issue. On the one hand, I want to serve God always (and doing so as a religious sounds very attractive), but on the other I do have a desire to be married and have children. I'm also quite a "hopeless romantic" at heart, so I understand what you mean there :) And I totally get what you say about being married to Jesus - that would be amazing, though hard as well, I suspect.

God calls us all. He has a plan for us, whether it be life as a religious, married or single person. No life is without hardship or challenges, but fulfillment does make things easier.
I think it's natural to be apprehensive about the unknown. But apprehension doesn't necessarily meant that the unfamiliar should remain unfamiliar.

At the end of the day, you need to follow God's Will, but also ensure that you are fulfilling some aspect of yourself. Don't do something or follow a certain path unless it truly engages your mind and heart. Vocations are very important and should be treated with patience and prayer. Trust in the Lord; he's with you always, whether or not you choose to spend life as a nun.

It might help to try and go on a retreat with or spend time with an order you're interested in, or at least get in contact with some sisters. They would be able to help you with your concerns. The most important thing is to be patient with God and with yourself. These things should be given a lot of time and consideration.

May the Lord bless you wherever you go and in whatever you do. And happy birthday :)


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