Advice for Discerning Marriage
Dating can often seem like a maze. Those who are young and dating have never been married before and so the waters of a new relationship are uncharted territory.
How do I know if this person is good for me?
How do I know if he/she is the one?
Will this relationship last forever or eventually burn out?
These are questions that everyone entering into a hopeful, new relationship asks themselves. They are necessary questions, but they are not terribly helpful. They seem to give rise to hundreds more questions and they eliminate none of the uncertainty.
I suggest that instead of asking the aforementioned questions, which are too broad and easy to lie to yourself about, instead examine your partner in light of some of the questions below.
Would I trust this person to raise my children if something were to happen to me?
This is a serious question that should be addressed early in the relationship. You should not date someone’s potential, but the person as they are. A person may get rid of bad habits or develop new virtues but you should not wager your entire married life on someone changing a bad habit after you’ve already committed to them! The purpose of marriage is to have children and raise them in the faith. If your significant other isn’t ready to take on this task, then maybe they aren’t ready for this relationship. Is this man/woman someone who I can trust to raise my children in the faith? Will this person teach my children the values and beliefs that I find important? If no, then it may be time to seriously evaluate the merits of the relationship; if yes, then maybe this is the person God is calling you to marry.
Would I be okay with my son/daughter growing up to be exactly like my significant other?
We all have our faults. No one is perfect, but would you approve of your son/daughter behaving in the way your boyfriend/girlfriend behaves? Is the person I’m dating kind and polite to others or selfish and rude? It is inevitable that your children will exhibit qualities of both parents. So ask yourself, would I be okay with my son/daughter behaving this way? If you would be honored to have a child behave as your significant other behaves, then that may be a sign that God is calling you to marry this person; if you would be appalled if your child behaved like your significant other, maybe it is time to reevaluate the relationship.
How does my significant other treat their parent of the opposite sex?
This piece of advice I got from a holy priest named Father Sebastian. How does your girlfriend treat her father? Is she polite, kind and loving to him? If so, then odds are that is how she will treat you when you are married. Is she obstinate and abrasive? If so, then odds are that is how she will treat you when you are married. Does your boyfriend honor his mother and treat her well? Does he do what she asks him to do the first time without complaining? If so, then odds are he will treat you the same after you are married. Does he treat his mother badly and complain about her behind her back? Does he fail to listen to her? If so, then odds are he will treat you the same after you are married.
Does this person enhance my love of God or compete with God for my love?
If you pray more often now that you’re with your significant other than you did before you met him or her, then you are on the right track. If your vocation is marriage, then God is calling you to heaven through your spouse and children. The family that you raise will be the work which God uses to make you holy and happy. If your significant other is someone who pulls you away from God and not closer to Him, then the relationship will be strained. Your significant other should make you holier and make you love God more. In fact, your spouse should be the person through whom you love God! He/she should encourage you to pray the rosary and to go to daily mass. Good relationships are rooted not in a love for one another, but in a mutual love of God through the other. If your potential future spouse encourages you to love them more than God or to love anything else more than God, the relationship may need to end.
These questions should help you quickly rule out relationships that are bad for you and ask more serious questions about the relationship that God has planned for you. As is the case with everything, God has a plan for you and will give you what you need to carry out His will. Trust always in His mercy and humbly ask for wisdom in your discernment and God will provide.
Regardless of your background or views on dating, this advice should be practical and enlightening. These questions were the standards I used when I asked my now fiancée to marry me two months ago. God abounds in mercy and grants us our every desire, all we need is patience and faith.
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Cameron Riecker studied biology at the University of Southern Indiana and has a Master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University. After college, he spent a year as a youth minister at his local parish and one semester in the Seminary in Saint Meinrad, Indiana. He currently teaches high school theology and physics in Scottsdale Arizona and operates a channel on YouTube. He is dedicated to sharing the Word of God and the Salvation of Jesus Christ.