Most priests know far more about marriage than most married people do


I can’t wait for the howls, but hear me out.

Most married people know about precisely one marriage, their own. And some people in these marriages really haven’t put their shoulder into their own marriages, and so they know surprisingly little about even their own marriage.

But most priests know a lot about marriage. They were raised as part of a family, and so they understand the effects of family life on marriage, and marriage on a family.

Good priests sit in confessions - and outside of formal confession times - hear confessions most days, in their offices, in airports, etc…anywhere they wear their collar they are open to be being asked to hear someone’s confession.

And what do they hear in confessions - and in spiritual direction and in marriage counseling sessions they may hold - they hear about married life in all of its marvelous good and ugly details.

They hear about our excuses, our self-justifications, our struggles, our lies, our rationalizations, our failures in being generous husbands or wives, our selfishness, our hopes, our desire to begin again, and again.

They often hear details about one’s marital relationship that some spouses don’t even discuss with their own spouses.

They may not know about a few aspects of married life…but they hear and learn about thousands of marriages in great detail.

They know in ways married people will never know.


I’m sure that happens occasionally, but I don’t think it happens “most days” by any stretch of the word.


I think what you say is analogous to saying “an aircraft mechanic knows a lot about being a pilot.”

Do you want the mechanic piloting your next flight?


The priests I know hear confessions on most days…before daily Mass, during office hours.

Our Parish has 3 priests hearing confessions from 2-4:30 (one or two finishing up til 5) on every Saturday, with 1.5 hours of Confession on Wednesdays.

Spanish (or English) Confession on Tuesdays for an hour.

And always “by appointment”.

And if you want to catch them for Confession after Daily Mass, they are happy to do so.

What really upsets people is to realize that counter to the secular/dissenter myth, most priests know more about marriage than nearly any married person, who only knows - at best - about their own marriage.

It infuriates them…because so man other of their myths come undone!!

N = 1.


Knowing about marriage from those in the confession booth is like knowing about the criminal justice system from those in prison.
Now if you claim they know more about the sins against marriage than the average married person, I’ll grant you that. But to claim a married person knows “at best-about their own marriage” is quite a statement. I’ve been married for over 35 years and there is not only my own marriage, but a significant number of other marriages (families and close friends) that intertwine with it on a daily basis.

So N is definitely > 1.

And not only am I privy to the failures of these other (and my own) marriages, but I also get to observe and experience the successes, the joys, and the satisfactions of these marriages, most of which never make it to the confession booth.


By your own argument, priests know a lot about bad marriages, but not much about good marriages.


Your analogy doesn’t hold water, and it undercuts the entire marriage counseling profession.

The interior life of a person - their struggle or non-struggles against selfishness, pride, vanity, self-focus, love of comfort, how they deal with injuries, resentment, dashed expectations, etc…is PRECISELY what good Confession can help with.

The fact is most Catholics don’t know anything about “dominant defect” “how to grow particular virtues”, how to do a sincere examination of conscience, how to get a lot out of Confession, how to build a prayer life where one can involve God in one’s struggle to “become more for their spouse and for God”.


No…in fact, they learn from both sides of it…in volume. Not all the content of Confession and spiritual direction is negative.


No, a pilot who is flying in the clouds had better learn to take instructions from the Air Traffic Controller - who may never had piloted but definitely sees the full context in better and fuller perspective.

So an ATC is a better analogy.


Maybe not official Confessions but unofficial ones.


Both…priests learn from multiple sources…Confessions, giving spiritual direction, from formal classes they take on such matters, from friendship with married men, from their own prayer life and struggles, and even from their own Confessions.

God has ways to make His priests better instruments.


Do you want the Air Traffic Controller piloting your next flight?


Some Catholic priests are married. So, these would be the best. Don’t you agree?


Priests hear and understand a lot more about marriage than we give them credit for. Not only from observation but also from heart to heart talks with people. People rightly feel they can share just about anything with Priests that the person may not tell another living soul. So in that sharing the Priest is privileged know more about a marriage than even the married spouses may know about each other. God Bless Priests for their patience, their listening without judgement, their kind hearts, their comforting words and their love. Any Priest worth his weight wants each and every one of his parishioners to get to Heaven. He would do whatever he could to make that possible.

As we pray for ALL marriages (they definitely need prayers) let’s not forget to pray for our Priests. God Bless Them!


As a former ATC, I can assure you you do not want me piloting an aircraft.


I’d fly with you anytime, soldier! Hoorah!


You miss the point…I’m not saying priests would be better husbands, but priests can help us to become better spouses even though they aren’t married…in the same way that an ATC can help pilots steer through traffic and the cloud and their own obstacles.


Well said.


Don’t you think married priests would have the best insight into marriage?


A lot of it has to do with a priests training, and his experience in interpersonal relationships. If these are formally enriched, he can offer much to a married couple. This is especially true when a couple does nothing to continually grow and deepen their relationship; a priest can offer insight and guidance that is very useful. A close, open, and loving relationship between a married couple and a priest can also benefit the priest in the relationship between he and his people (parishioners, etc.).

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