I’ve been thinking about marriage since I responded to a post on Catholic Online Forum. A young man was asking about what we thought important to finding the right spouse. I’ve some things I think worth saying on this topic.
I think shared values and faith are pretty well understood to be important in seeking a partner. The following are rarely discussed to any extent and so here is what I have found to be important:
Know yourself. This is an important key. There are things about each of us that when we are honest about ourselves are traits which are here to stay. Like my being passionate about EVERYTHING. I mean, I am not a calm person. Some people might say I am neurotic and brilliant and not an easy person with whom to share a house. I am EXACTLY right for my husband who happens to love brilliant neurotic women. Who knew? God knew and made me just right for him and him for me.
You need to recognize those things about you that are not going to change so you can know when YOU are the wrong person for the other person. None of us wants to make another person’s life miserable, so know yourself so you do not marry a person who will eventually be miserable with you– and so you do not marry anyone expecting to change something that ends up a foundational character trait that is there to stay and which makes you miserable.
My husband is a very difficult person for most people, but he is EXACTLY the right person for me and I for him. I am totally myself without editing when we are together and that was essential for me, and exactly what he wanted! I’ve guy friends I love but who would be totally miserable with me. I’d make them miserable and I’d be unable to change enough to prevent their misery. Hubby LOVES the very traits in me that would have made the guys I’m friends with miserable. It is so wonderful that I cannot find words to express the wonder of being with the right person. Easy it is not, but wonderful it is.
That is another thing: be realistic. Marriage is merging two different people into a single vocation. There will be conflict. Sometime it will be painful. Sometimes you will be miserable. Life is hard work and so will marriage be. After all, a call to the vocation of marriage is meant to help you become a saint and that is not easy!
Beyond the knowing yourself part, there are some generalities to consider.
Life tosses us some amazingly painful situations and neither person in the marriage is going to react well to everything so the ability to forgive is essential to the survival of a marriage. If you cultivate in yourself the virtue of forgiveness then you prepare to be a better spouse and if you seek a forgiving nature in your spouse it will be better for you both.
Another absolute essential is kindness. When two people treat each other with kindness in the midst of the ups and downs of living, it is easier for both. On a bad day when the dog ate your favorite shoe and one of the kids threw up on the good carpet and someone who refuses to admit their guilt has left something under the couch until it smelled… well, kindness in the midst of the chaos of family life is a great asset. Work to develop it in yourself and seek it in others.
Gratitude is another really good trait to cultivate in yourself and look for in a potential spouse. If you are grateful to your spouse for what that person does for you, and you express that gratitude, it is healthy for the relationship. This is nice to get back too!
Shared values, kindness, forgiveness, gratitude and realistic understanding of yourself will increase your likelihood of finding the person right for you and for whom you are right.
and THAT is my $.02 worth on finding someone with whom to enter the vocation of marriage–LOL!