Marriage? Unfamiliar territory; please advise


#1

Whyever I’m casting this out into a community of complete strangers, I don’t know. But I have a feeling I might get a good response tonight.

Let me begin by saying that this has been the luckiest year of my life yet, considering that my last decade was very frustrating personally, occupationally, financially, and relationally. Suddenly, though, at the beginning of this year, I receive a great job offer doing what I love, and then the promise of a raise, additional responsibilities, and additional time. No more of those horrid cube farms! I’m accepted to finish my degrees at the university of my choice as well, but upon my statement of inability to pay, am offered the opportunity to work for a year as a correspondence student, keeping my foot in the door, and making transfer to a day program and receipt of lucrative institutionally based financial aid all the easier for me. And I don’t have to take on the expenses of moving and can keep my job. A writer who has long had little to write about, I’m producing my most beautiful work in at least five years. And a long lost friend comes back into my life, and it looks like a splendid romance is developing.

For about ten years–which I noted earlier to have been unfortunate years–I was casting my lot on a call to the priestly and/or religious life, only to have every door shut in my face. This was not due to heterodoxy or incapacity or anything like that; I was just told that I’m not quite the aspirant the Church is looking for right now. It frustrated me so for a long time, as I saw little quarter for me in the secular world, and saw the need for the good servants of Christ, the Church, and the Pope so compellingly. However, bitter experience shows me now that it is not my lot. However, my despair was short-lived, as I am told that I am an excellent educator, and have come to love my work teaching English.

But my alienation from the Church became progressively greater, to the point that I eschewed the sacraments. An unwise move I know, but I see now that purgatory cannot be much worse than even the most sacrilegious of Masses. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m of the more traditional temperament and churchmanship. Anyway, by the grace of God, in spite of my own mortal sin, a rich life of interior prayer, both contemplative and formal (like the Rosary) developed in me, and my guardian angel finally prompted me to go to shrift and to receive the sacrament once more–this after five novenas said for a special intention, as well as friends putting it on the prayer line to a nearby community of especially saintly nuns. My past experience had taught me to expect a rather disinterested priest and a very light penance, but a rather onerous penance was imposed upon me in this case. I had prayed for saintlier clergy, and I therefore got saintlier clergy, and this penance is actually proving a great benefit to me. I imagine that God has so graced me already while in a state of mortal sin, what wonders could transpire while in a state of grace?

Anyway, I’d not be surprised if I were to find out that this confessor had the gift of reading hearts. He advised me that I should consider an option that really hadn’t much crossed my radar screen in the past–marriage. The doors to a clerical or consecrated life being shut, my focus had been largely upon what one might call a secondary vocation–being an excellent writer and teacher. All in all, bachelorhood hasn’t been bad to me, as celibacy is enjoined upon those considering the other vocations, and I have thus been (generally) celibate.

Interestingly, I reunite with my old friend, and it turns somewhat romantic before this transpires. Also interestingly, a romance between us was the request I made with my novenas–“to culminate in a happy marriage if it be the will of God,” as I put it. It’s been progressing slowly, and I’ve missed a few opportunities to sweep her off her feet, but I still remain very confident.

It feels very odd for me to make this among my primary prayer intentions, as but a few years before I’d have considered it quite frivolous. In a sense, I still somewhat do. Let me ask, is it?

Next, marriage requires stability. It needs a home, and a wife needs her husband home at night. But I cannot now provide that home, and in order to do so, I must travel off for another degree so as to get a higher income. Even if that college debt is not so much a problem as I think it is, this would make for a rather rocky start to a marriage. We’re not getting any younger, moreover. And I’ve not even brought the natural purpose of marriage–children–into the picture yet. With all of this in play, is marriage even advisable now?

And is there anything else you’d like to say about this? It’s hard to say exactly what my end question is. Just, I guess, what do you think of all of this?

Please keep me in your prayers.


#2

It's hard to respond to this since you don't seem to know what you're asking :) But in general it seems to you are way over-analyzing your life right now. You just need to decide if you would like to spend the rest of your life with this woman, and then discuss the other issues with her. Do you love her? Would she make a good wife? If you want to put her and a family life first, then just talk to her about it and make compromises where you need to make compromises.

No marriage is perfect, and no life is ever easy. Just decide what your priorities are and then do what you need to do :) Sounds to me your need to embrace the opportunities you have been given.

I will pray for you.


#3

You definitely need to discover how to live in the present moment. You sound like you are in a situation where things could neatly fall into place for romance, marriage, and someday a family. If that is what you want, then you need to spend more time living and loving and less time ruminating.

However, if you are inclined to continue pondering the possibilities, have you considered becoming a Dominican?


#4

You are both very kind. I have spoken to the OP before, and they were the order I was most amenable towards. However, that was one of the doors shut in my face.

But you are both correct. I'm a rather intellectual and cerebral fellow. That is, however, a blessing in disguise. It's done me well over some time, but this year its limit has been reached. We men are much more than merely minds; we're souls incarnate. Thus prayer has become so much more an important part of my life this year (even much more than when I was considering a call to the priesthood, oddly). Thus, as though by Providence, I'm reconnected to my old friend and I can't get my mind off of her at times. Thus, I'm writing poems now, like I once did, rather than dry analytic essays.

We're all of different temperaments, no doubt: for some, living and loving in the moment and not analyzing is easy; for others, life passes by with our realizing things only in hindsight--and then considering them to death.

So I'll make my question more precise. How does one come to live in the moment better, rather than the etheric and formless realms of the mind? I'll take either a pious answer or a practical answer; indeed, I think I'll need both.

Thanks for your responses, and be assured of my prayers.


#5

I sympathize with your tendency to get "stuck in your own head" so to speak. When you allow the intellectual side of you become all-consuming it can cause a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. Fortunately for me my husband is very good at focusing on the joy of each moment and we balance each other out.

Not that you should be turning your brain off--just that you need to embrace a more holistic picture. Here are some things that help me to stay in the present moment and be attuned to God's blessings:

  1. Physical activities like dancing, hiking, swimming, etc. Stretch outside your comfort zone and get in touch with the great outdoors and all the immediate blessings around you.

  2. Daily meditation on simple truths. I love reading one chapter of "Imitation of Christ" every morning. I also enjoy yoga exercises where you must focus your mind and your breathing in order to be successful at the poses.

Also, have you experience any Eastern rite Catholic churches? After years of dissatisfaction with my Roman parish options I have found great peace and joy in a small Byzantine community. Just thought I would suggest that based on what you share about being a Traditional Catholic.


#6

Thanks, Schiefllin. I actually reside in one of the most physically beautiful areas of the United States, and work outside in the summer as well. It gives a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the beauties of creation.

Moreover, I love the Byzantine Rite. Alas, there are no Byzantine parishes within an hour's drive of me. I reside in a blasé liberal diocese. The only nearby house of religious is rather charismaticky-"New Springtime" stuff. Both of these make me a little ill at ease--and, frankly, I think I make them somewhat ill at ease. I can get to a Extraordinary Form Mass in a nearby diocese in about an hour, and so that's what I tend to do. My devotions are usually done privately.

This ecclesiastical situation as well as the coldness of my childhood family have generally left me a rather solitary man. So, thus, I wonder if I can do family well because I've never experienced it done right. When I was thinking clergy, though, I wondered if I could do church well because I'd never experienced it done right. Ah, such is the age in which we live.


#7

[quote="bardegaulois, post:6, topic:251124"]
Thanks, Schiefllin. I actually reside in one of the most physically beautiful areas of the United States, and work outside in the summer as well. It gives a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the beauties of creation.

Moreover, I love the Byzantine Rite. Alas, there are no Byzantine parishes within an hour's drive of me. I reside in a blasé liberal diocese. The only nearby house of religious is rather charismaticky-"New Springtime" stuff. Both of these make me a little ill at ease--and, frankly, I think I make them somewhat ill at ease. I can get to a Extraordinary Form Mass in a nearby diocese in about an hour, and so that's what I tend to do. My devotions are usually done privately.

This ecclesiastical situation as well as the coldness of my childhood family have generally left me a rather solitary man. So, thus, I wonder if I can do family well because I've never experienced it done right. When I was thinking clergy, though, I wondered if I could do church well because I'd never experienced it done right. Ah, such is the age in which we live.

[/quote]

You are welcome! It sounds like you're a good man who is on the right path. Trust in God, my friend. Receive the blessings He is giving you. Allow Him to heal old wounds so you won't be held back. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." Proverbs 3:5


#8

[quote="bardegaulois, post:6, topic:251124"]
Thanks, Schiefllin. I actually reside in one of the most physically beautiful areas of the United States, and work outside in the summer as well. It gives a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the beauties of creation.

Moreover, I love the Byzantine Rite. Alas, there are no Byzantine parishes within an hour's drive of me. I reside in a blasé liberal diocese. The only nearby house of religious is rather charismaticky-"New Springtime" stuff. Both of these make me a little ill at ease--and, frankly, I think I make them somewhat ill at ease. I can get to a Extraordinary Form Mass in a nearby diocese in about an hour, and so that's what I tend to do. My devotions are usually done privately.

This ecclesiastical situation as well as the coldness of my childhood family have generally left me a rather solitary man. So, thus, I wonder if I can do family well because I've never experienced it done right. When I was thinking clergy, though, I wondered if I could do church well because I'd never experienced it done right. Ah, such is the age in which we live.

[/quote]

I think you need to think less, and just live in the present moment more. I know that's going to be difficult for you - as an intellectual and a writer, your gifts are such that thinking is both a sport and a recreation. You go on word safaris, so to speak.

First off, you have to take this romance as it comes, not decide based on some esoteric formula whether or not things are pointing toward marriage. And as for "getting it right," well, the human race would die out in a year if only the healthy people got married and had children. We just do the best we can with what we were given, and try to do better as we know how to do better.

Take it one step at a time, and try to relax and just not think and analyze every little thing.


#9

Schiefflin, thank you. It’s one thing to ask for blessings, but another thing to be able to receive them. I’ve asked my guardian angel to elbow me in the ribs if needs be, to awaken me to the opportunities I’m receiving. I think of the man who spent twenty years praying to God, to Mary, to all the angels and saints that he might win the lottery. Then he died, went to heaven, and asked God why he didn’t win the lottery. God asked him back, “Why didn’t you ever buy the ticket?”

And Juliane, you’re right. I don’t think there’s an esoteric formula or anything. To be frank, I was first enthused that i was reconnecting with an old friend. But then, I go cerebral–off to that realm where time does not exist, forgetting that there is an infinity in this present moment. I’ve missed chances, but pray that her patience with me hasn’t expired. I believe I’ll get one more this summer. It’s up to me, I suppose, to be well-disposed to receive it.

Thanks to you both.


#10

And, I guess I'll add to my query. Some priests can be very wise, but they are only men, and thus, fallible. Should I be most focused on marrying, or should I be most focused on my career as a writer and teacher, in which it seems to be I could do so much more good in this world than as a husband (we'll cross that father bridge when we get there)?

I know that the Church really drives home the issue of primary vocations first (secular or regular; clerical or lay). But, I've always felt more profoundly called to a function in this world long before the issue of ontological state. Am I just looking at this through utilitarian spectacles? So the issue in the past wasn't between priest and layman so much as it was between priest and professor, or professor and editor, and so forth. Any idea of marriage seemed rather ancillary to the issue of career. I was interested in serving those areas in which there was the most need and the most potential, not necessarily those in which I'd be the most happy. I'd say such things as, the way of Christ is the Way of the Cross, the only certitude is suffering, we'll receive our happiness in the next world, and so forth.

But we live in such a beautiful world. I know I'm really going back to basics here, but does God not also want us to be happy in this world as well as the next? And is this, perhaps, what the whole issue of primary vocation is about?


#11

[quote="bardegaulois, post:9, topic:251124"]
Schiefflin, thank you. It's one thing to ask for blessings, but another thing to be able to receive them. I've asked my guardian angel to elbow me in the ribs if needs be, to awaken me to the opportunities I'm receiving. I think of the man who spent twenty years praying to God, to Mary, to all the angels and saints that he might win the lottery. Then he died, went to heaven, and asked God why he didn't win the lottery. God asked him back, "Why didn't you ever buy the ticket?"

And Juliane, you're right. I don't think there's an esoteric formula or anything. To be frank, I was first enthused that i was reconnecting with an old friend. But then, I go cerebral--off to that realm where time does not exist, forgetting that there is an infinity in this present moment. I've missed chances, but pray that her patience with me hasn't expired. I believe I'll get one more this summer. It's up to me, I suppose, to be well-disposed to receive it.

Thanks to you both.

[/quote]

If you want to go any further with this woman, you MUST somehow connect with your emotions. Emotions are the present moment aspect of our lives - they are fleeting but need to be experienced and welcomed as an integral part of ourselves. Women are more in tune with our emotions and sometimes, we seem to stay in them, which makes us more flighty and changeable than men. But you will never understand your lady friend unless you can approach her from a point of intimacy, which means acknowledging your own and her emotions. You see, emotions are a huge part of the bonding between people - if you are only in your head, thinking, thinking, thinking - there is no bond. She needs you to share your whole self with her and share her whole self, including her emotions, especially her emotions. I am married to a man who shuts off his emotions by working constantly, and after 22 years we have almost no relationship because he does not share his emotions with me. There is no intimacy between us and actually he doesn't even know what that is. So you must find out, or you have little to offer your lady friend. She needs more of you than your mind. She can admire your mind, even love the intellectual aspects of you, but the true bonding is emotional and spiritual.

These are my own beliefs based on my life experience, you can take them or leave them, as you wish. But if you stay in your head, always thinking, you stay safe from the messy world of emotions. You will never truly love another person, however.


#12

Juliane, what is life if we have not love? I think St. Paul answers that question admirably. Moreover, isn't every vocation supposed to be a complete gift of the whole self? We men don't manifest our emotions as much as women, preferring at most times to keep a stoic reserve.

I think I need to find a spiritual director. One who specializes in the Carmelite or Ignatian spiritualities, preferably. These exercises can be somewhat intense, and I'd do very well to have some guidance in their undertaking. The time is now; I know I can't live this coldly forever.

Please remember me in your prayers.


#13

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