Three years ago I got roped into organising a dating party. One girl complained that there were only 2 sorts of men: wet fish and hedonists. But I explained to her there are 3 billion men out there – at least one of them must be suitable for her.
At that time, I wanted to take my faith seriously. I realised the teaching of the Church was diametrically at loggerheads with my own life. Rather than looking for the perfect spouse, maybe it’s ourselves that we need to look to for holiness and sanctification.
Father Michael Ryan is an experienced marriage counsellor. He states that in order to have a happy marriage, you need five positive comments for every negative comment in order to have happy, fulfilling communication. Gary Chapman explains in his very famous book, “The Five Love Languages” that there are different ways that couples communicate love to one another. Some couples have a different love language than their spouse. The love languages are physical touch, gifts, quality time, words of affirmation and service. Family is an acronym. It stands for, “Forget About Me I Love You.” It’s the plan God has to bring us into fullness, through the person he has in mind for us.
Pope Benedict XVI’s parents met through a Catholic Lonely Hearts Agency. His Policeman father met through a newspaper advert that read: “Middle ranking civil servant. Single. Catholic. 43 years old. Immaculate past. From the countryside…” Low and behold, a future Pope of the Catholic Church was born thanks to the blessing through that advert. Don’t be afraid to use any means possible God is calling you to choose a possible husband or wife.
The parents of St Therese of Lisieux met providentially on a bridge in the city. Both of them looked for a religious vocation. Zelie passed a young man with a noble face, reserved air, and a demeanour filled with an impressive dignity. An interior voice whispered to her in secret, “This is whom I prepared for you.” St Theresa said how lucky she was to have such wonderful parents. It was almost as if they were from heaven itself. John Paul II said that the family is a school of love, and the future of humanity passes by the way of the family.
St Vincent Ferrer was a 13th Century Dominican. He said, “As long as the wedding cake lasts, the man will be infatuated. But afterwards, he will come to himself and say, ‘That foolish woman wishes to be the master.’ And the squabbling will begin at home.”
Fulton Sheen wrote an excellent article saying what to do when marriage becomes difficult. He asked this question. What do we do when marriage becomes an anti-social, cruel, unfaithful, tyrant or bossy spouse, or even a chronic invalid? He offered this bit of advice. “Always view the other person as a gift of God.”
St Francis de Sales said that in marriage “The occasions of suffering are more frequent in marriage than in any state at all.” He said, “Let married people remain on a cross of obedience.”
St Thomas More advised anyone looking to marry that they should first, “Observe what kind of parents the lady has.” He also recommended to look at their character also.
St Gianna Molla said, “Now is the time to prepare yourself for family life. You cannot fulfil this path if you do not know how to love. To love means to want to perfect yourself and your beloved, to overcome your selfishness, and to give yourself completely.” St Gianna recognised that marriage preparation does not begin 6 months before marriage, but stretches back to the beginning of your life.
The contemporary British philosopher Roger Scruton describes sex as either consecration or desecration. Relationships are a challenge. We find God working in and through many relationships, no matter how challenging they are. St Catherine of Siena says if you are who you really should be, you would set the world ablaze. With God all things are possible. I have no idea what he has planned for your life, but it’ll be interesting in that journey of discovery to find out.