On becoming the anti-romantic


I do believe that romantic love is possible. I have fallen in love before, and it was wonderful, but then I have recently begun to adopt a different attitude to the search for a wife, I've started to become obsessed with wealth and class, with the idea that a husband ought to be sole breadwinner, and with the idea that I mustn't aim 'above my station'
"he loves, and loves alas above his station"
"oh yes, the lass is much above his station"
- this idea has reached the proportions of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. It seems odd that I should be thinking this way in the 21st century.

I do find a strange attraction to the way of life of the English Traditionalists, who do think in these ways, particularly the recussant families, where it is not unusual to find grandmothers inquiring into the vocation, income and breeding of a young man and trying to set them up with their granddaughters, and not entirely unknown for young men to have to ask a lady's father's permission to court his daughter. These aren't the people I know, they aren't the people I meet in my parish. This is basically about class envy. I know that most women in those traditionalist circles would not marry anyone who doesn't earn enough to support a family on a single income, they have no intention of working after marriage, and most fathers wouldn't give permission to marry unless the same were true.

I've started to accept these values for myself, believing that I couldn't possibly begin to date until I have secured such a career, that I couldn't possibly dream of continuing the academic career I wanted, but ought instead to go into management because of the higher salary. I'm no longer looking for love, but for someone who would be a 'good match', someone not too high in her expectations. I wonder if this is about control, about wanting to own my wife rather than be in a partnership with her? The worst of all is I am turning my back on allowing myself to fall in love, everything must be done 'just so', and I worry that one day I'll look back on a life spent in pursuit of such a snobbish ideal and regret it.

Yet, I can't help thinking, if I were any girl's father, I wouldn't give my permission to me to court their daughter. But I also realise, back in the real world, who but a control freak would demand permission before a man could court their adult daughter?

Not sure why I'm thinking this way. Not sure what the point of this post is. Just hoping somebody can restore my faith in romance, or maybe somebody can show me that my fears are groundless, or even just say 'I know where you're coming from'.


I understand where your views are coming from, as I’ve been in traditional communities long enough to observe what seems to be the norm.

However, I’ve also had to reconcile my traditional catholic beliefs (think, pre-1960’s type practises and organisations) with the fact that I do have a professional career and that, all things considered, my life won’t turn out quite the way it has for my friends who live on a single income.

For one, educational debt these days is overwhelming. Unless I married a millionaire (quite literally) I wouldn’t be able to pay off my education on a single income. Assuming the ohter person also has debt, that basically mandates 2 people working. That’s just a fact of life these days and while the vast majority of my Catholic friends have chose the stay-at-home model, I’ve had to accept that it is not something that I wish to pursue, nor would I be quite able to handle someone who would insist upon it. Unfortunately, within traditional Catholic circles, these “liberal” ideas don’t fly over too well. :wink:

As for asking permission, I think it is more a gesture of courtesy than an actual belief that permission must be granted. It shows a certain respect on the part of the person asking for the wishes of the parents, again, something that modern society seems to eschew. It used to be quite common and even mandatory years back.

Nevertheless, I think your considerations are valid, at least in terms of finding suitable employment. Most parish priests seem to favour the idea of having a stable income before seeking to get married as it prevents a lot of stress and uncertainty in the future. It also exhibits a certain degree of responsibility rather than a “fly by the seat of your pants” mentality that can prove financially dangerous.

Hope this helps, and best wishes. :slight_smile:


This sounds extremely misguided to me. Academic careers pay decently, why would you give up the dream of doing something you love just so that you can do something boring and make more money?

I don’t understand your motivation. Is it that having a stay at home wife is more important to you than having a career you love? Why do you think you couldn’t support a family on an academic career?

Most educated women nowadays intend to have careers of their own. Why don’t you want to marry such a woman? It would lessen the pressure on you to make a lot of money and you can do what you love instead.

As for asking the father etc., it sounds like you’d have a really hard time finding a family like that to begin with. Have you ever met women who would marry you only if their father allowed? Have you met fathers who intend to have this kind of control over their daughters?

Why on earth would you want to shun romantic love? It’s the thing that makes relationships worthwhile…

It sounds like you’re setting yourself up for an unhappy life full of regrets. I’m really confused as to why you are doing it.


[quote="flyingfish, post:3, topic:192399"]

It sounds like you're setting yourself up for an unhappy life full of regrets.


Well said!

Idea-date around, have fun, be happy, and you never know what can happen.


It seems to me that you are becoming increasingly harsh with yourself over these last couple of years. You over-analyze everything, doubt everything about yourself, and pile all sorts of unnecessary burdens, rules, and prohibitions on yourself. Why is that? Why on earth would you not want to pursue a career that you would find fulfilling, that you have worked hard on already, go out and have fun, fall in love and get married?


I couldn’t possibly dream of continuing the academic career I wanted, but ought instead to go into management because of the higher salary.

So…… God put you on this earth with certain dreams about pursuing the academic career that you wanted and perhaps accomplishing something for the betterment of yourself and this sorry world…
and you feel they should be sacrificed to the god of…
the god of what, exactly?
The god of “obsession with wealth and class”?

I’ve seen the “obsession with wealth and class” thing before. It wasn’t easy for him to support that “trophy wife” in the style to which her Daddy’s precious little princess had become accustomed! She divorced him in the first 5 years of marriage because he just wasn’t any fun anymore… why, he was always having to work rather than live life as the extended ski vacation she had always known! The precious little *Princess of Hearts * eventually grows up to become the Queen of Hearts, you know… as in: "off with their heads!"

Lest you become too enamored of romanticized versions of wealth and class and Victorian/Edwardian society… you might want to read a first person account of the world they created: The Iron Heel by Jack London…
and you can also easily find and observe the underside and the children of wealth and class… at any private secluded rehab facility. Have a look sometime. The god of “obsession with wealth and class” is also the god of addiction and dysfunction.


Believe it or not, they are out there. Last year on CAF, there was a series of 10-page threads by a guy who was trying to get permission from a woman’s father to date her (both were past high-school age.)

I also remember that the situation ended horrendously, which might be an indication that this level of control isn’t such a good idea…


Seriously… meet some Catholic girls until you find one that you can have fun with. Then date her. If you’re worried about sin, don’t “make out” or have sex with her. Problem solved. I have no other advice for you, because this post already contains all the advice that you need.


I remember that thread as well hehe.

I don’t understand why someone would prefer to marry a girl from such a family. It just seems so incredibly inconvenient to go through the father to first court and then marry the woman.


since both attitudes objectify the potential wife, neither is the basis for a sound marriage, so until there is maturity in those attitudes, marriage is not in the picture. Since both atttudes are equally unrealistic–storybook romance or something out of Jane Austen–it follows that the scenarios that follow will also be unrealistic, more evidence it is not yet time for marriage.


Dood, get out of that thinking.

There's no way around a woman's consent. A man can't get it from the father and the father can't prevent it from being given, either.

Class and station are toys of the secular world. How many classes are there among brothers and sisters?

Wealth comes and goes.

This is not to say you shouldn't take care of your family financially and otherwise in economic and social terms, but this shouldn't translate to chasing titles, money or place in the order of precedence. Neither does it say you can't do what you love doing or what benefits the community more, just because it pays less (and as you probably know, there's plenty of jobs that give more splendour but less money when you compare e.g. civil service to positions in prive businesses).

To show the absurdity of class/wealth/etc. concepts:

  1. Who's a "better" bride: a girl with an aristocratic title but no land, or a businessman's daughter with plenty of cash and humble roots?

  2. Who's "better", a black or Asian prince or a white gentleman?

  3. If #2 is not enough, who's "better", a coloured person with a *European *title or a full-blood white person with no title?

We could also throw in legitimate or illegitimate birth.

Not to mention the distinctions rightfully appear thoroughly demeaning.

I think it's good we're done with that kind of thing.


I think I ought to just clarify here, I’m not talking about ‘marrying up’, or seeking someone from the upper classes. Rather, I’m talking about accepting the values of those upper classes, but seeking someone much closer to my own station in life. I want my bride to feel she’s the one who has ‘married up’, that she has done well for herself given the circumstances, and that means not dating someone whose career and family background would make me seem inadequate, no matter how much we might ‘fall in love’. It’s about seeing society as a whole, and particularly the role of families in raising good sons and daughters for Holy Church, as more important than the wants and desires of the individual. It means having more realistic expectations, but yet that seems to make me miserable, and I know why.

I was raised in a very spoiled individualistic way, and am still struggling, as a convert, to put all that behind me. It’s not easy when people in the Church, even very orthodox Catholics, still talk about individualism as if the Catholic teaching on the dignity of the person was opposed to sacrificing personal ambitions for the needs of others. Of course, we should never sacrifice personal fulfilment, but the teaching of the Church is that we find true fulfilment in giving ourselves for others.

And while it’s true that established academics make a reasonable salary (far less in the UK than in the United States though), that only comes after years of part-time, temporary and post-doctoral positions that pay pretty badly. As an academic, I could have a lot of quality time at home with my future spouse, and that could enable her to pursue a career, but as a management consultant I’d be able to enable her to pursue her dreams, whether that means career, devotional life, family life, volunteer work, whatever. I’d spend a lot more time away, but I don’t know if I’d want to spend enormous amounts of time with someone I hadn’t fallen in love with, someone who was just a ‘good match’.

Nonetheless, this is the reality of how marriage was for the majority of people for the majority of history, not only in European high society, but in rural societies across the world at all social levels. You can’t seriously mean to tell me that family life is better in our current age of romance-obsessed living-in-sin high-divorce-rate dreamers?

At the end of the day, marriage is a vocation, it is the nature of the sacrifice of a whole life, it’s substance is the cross. To want to marry, but only if I can hold on to my ‘dream’ of making a difference in the academic and policy analysis world would make me unworthy of marriage. If someone wanted to be a priest, but only if they could keep their day-job, you would say they weren’t ready for the priesthood, and marriage is the same. If I want less than the best for my wife and kids, how can I make those vows?


Do you have a spiritual advisor?


I’m not talking about marrying up. I’m talking about getting obsessed with class and station and looking for someone “right there”. Don’t get deluded by imaginations of some very special values of the upper classes. The upper classes are people like everybody and noble titles do not make a person act nobly, neither does cash ennoble. Just recall the parables from the Bible.

I’m not talking about lack of respect for learning, business acumen, positions of responsibility, charitable contributions, even the sheer sway someone has in a community, heh, in fact, even the continued traditions of an old family where someone was born. But personally I’m very happy we live in a (moderately) classless society.


I initially was going to write a response based on some concerning language in your OP. Then I saw your clarification.

“I want my bride to feel she’s the one who has ‘married up’, that she has done well for herself given the circumstances, and that means not dating someone whose career and family background would make me seem inadequate” (and sorry, I’m new, so i don’t know the format for quoting in boxes yet).

As a single twentysomething, I will feel “married up,” if I snag a man who obeys the Church and her teachings. I will feel I have done well for myself if I find that my match is willing to sacrifice his happiness for my (and our family) own. Here’s the thing. It’s the thought that counts!

Maybe other women will disagree, but I’d rather be working, middle class and happy with a husband who’s home than dallying away my time on my overworked husband’s dime. The latter, to me, is “less than the best” for your family. To me, men who pursue their calling labor-wise and are passionate about work that makes a difference are more attractive than suits who work in a cubicle for a paycheck and hate it.

In your opening post, you said “I know that most women in those traditionalist circles would not marry anyone who doesn’t earn enough to support a family on a single income,” …well, is it possible to find the (not-so) rare type of woman who has traditional faith values, but okay with “liberal” values like working to support her family, too?

My advice: be open to the women God puts in your life and date/court for the sake of seeing if you’re called to marriage. If so, get out the budget software, talk to your intended and see if you can compromise on who works when and what you need to do.


IMHO, perhaps what you really want is a woman who feels extremely blessed to be with a man like you. I would say that, rather than "married up".

Oh, and an academic career should pay enough, or am I missing something? :confused:

Just some advice from the other side of the ocean, hahaha. :p


I do hope that your chosen field of academia isn’t history. Your view of history is appallingly, embarrassingly, grossly ignorant and apparently based on 19th century romance novels.

Historically, wealthy “privileged” men (landed aristocracy) routinely kept mistresses and coerced/seduced/raped the powerless household maids all the while maintaining their façade of respectable pious family life with their arranged “trophy” wives as the “social currency” guaranteeing their smooth social access and acceptance among “privileged” society.

Historically, men of the lower classes (landless wage earners) were so physically and economically exploited by those “privileged” upper classes that they could not afford wives or children (ever hear of “press gangs”?) and so they generally ended up with various other social/sexual arrangements than marriage and/or occasionally visited prostitutes as they could afford.

Historically, hardworking struggling men (tradesmen, small farmers) somewhere between the landed aristocrats and the powerless peasants struggled to protect their mothers, wives, and daughters from being preyed upon by the “privileged” classes in a world in which being coerced/seduced and/or forcibly raped generally meant being either forced to marry one’s seducer/rapist, or shunned by society and forced into a life of prostitution.

Historically, women were powerless property. Marriage was no guarantee of safety for a woman as it was perfectly legal for a drunken, exploited/abused, and/or industrially poisoned husband to come home half insane from work, pubs, prostitutes, and wars and vent out his anger, fears, and frustrations with the world by beating and raping his wife and daughters as he chose…. while Church stressed a wife’s foremost duty to obey her husband and endlessly love and forgive him (theoretically that gave her and the children a better chance of survival), and English law eventually got around to specifying that the maximum size of stick a wife could be beaten with was the size of a man’s thumb (theoretically that gave her and the children a better chance of survival).

Historically, sexual slavery (within and outside of marriage) wife beating, abortion, infanticide, child abandonment, child physical and sexual abuse, child prostitution, and raped, pregnant, murdered maids buried in the basements of grand estates were everyday activities swept under the rug, never mentioned and never challenged in “polite” society. These activities have always flourished in direct proportion to the growth of empire and the endless war and exploitation required to maintain empire. It’s an extremely old story which has only recently been challenged in the aftermath of 2 world wars in that men and women are finally beginning to reveal, discuss, confront and challenge these issues in society openly for the first time in history and defend the idea that human beings should have human rights. It’s long overdue.

The foremost “value” of the upper classes is the maintenance of their “upper class” status which necessitates a certain exploitation of the lower classes in order to maintain that “privileged” position above them in society. It is obvious that you want to “accept” this exploitative value system. Of course you want your bride to feel that she has “married up” and is oh so privileged to marry you…because there just can’t be an “upper class” without a “lower class” can there? … and you want to maintain your “upper class” status within marriage.
She should certainly consider herself somehow “privileged” (“under the circumstances”) to marry a guy who doesn’t love her, but whom he considers to be merely “just a good match” that he might not want to spend an “enormous amounts of time with”… like a lifetime? What a sorry joke!

That’s what the guys used to say to the bereaved screaming crying women after the press gangs had forced their fiancees and husbands into the Royal Navy on their wedding days:
“Hey, honey, why this is your lucky day! I’ve taken a fancy to you! I’m with the privileged class, you see…and you’re supposed to raise some good sons and daughter for Holy Church, and I’d like to make that possible for you, you lucky girl!” Well, of course I don’t expect to spend “an enormous amount of time with you”… let’s be realistic here…this is about Church and society!
Yeah, sure it is…


Are these actual values of the upper classes, or what you perceive to be the values?

Nonetheless, this is the reality of how marriage was for the majority of people for the majority of history, not only in European high society, but in rural societies across the world at all social levels. You can’t seriously mean to tell me that family life is better in our current age of romance-obsessed living-in-sin high-divorce-rate dreamers?

“Better” is a term that depends on what you value. If you value romance, excitement and all that, then it’s better. If you value a lasting marriage regardless of whether or not you love or despise the person, then probably not.

What’s definitely not “better”, is giving up a career you love to do something you’d be bored doing.

You’re very confusing. Do you want to be happy in life or do you want to meet some perceived ideals of the “upper class”? What’s the point?


This is just a rehash of the whole vocation thing where you thought you should be a priest because it would be a difficult and miserable life for you - the only fitting sacrifice.

You really should do something about this need of yours to be miserable before you make any big life decisions.



You seem to be coming to some wise decisions. Not sure about there, but, here those with Academic carreers are struggling. Colleges and Universities are feeling the economy, they are cutting back and not hiring. They will pay an instructor a small salary, less than 20K per year. A family would struggle on that as a sole income.

One would think on a Catholic board that there would be more support for SAHMs and men who what that family model. In the economy of today, it does take alot of sacrifice or a comfortable salary to make that dream come true.

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