People often ask us for advice on dating, love, and relationships. Others are looking for tips on engagement and marriage. So, over the next couple of articles, we will be offering engagement advice for Catholic couples.
After all, this is an exciting and joyous time, but it can also be stressful and full of anxiety too for some. If you navigate this time together correctly, it will create a firm foundation for your marriage and help it to flourish.
However, some work needs to be put in during this time, not only for planning your future, but for you as a couple. So let’s begin.
Engagement Advice for Catholic Couples
Tip #1. Prayer is necessary!
Pray a lot! Pray for yourself and for your spouse often. Marriage is difficult, and there is no doubt in the world that couples will need God during the challenging times. Thus, it is extremely beneficial that you possess a deep prayer life and are close to God before marriage because it’s very difficult to create one afterwards.
If you are serious about God being the center of your relationship – as He should be – then a developed prayer life is a necessity. God is the bedrock of a Catholic marriage, so form that bedrock. It will only help you, your spouse, and your future children.
Tip #2. Plan your wedding together!
As they say, “Marriage takes two.” Holy Matrimony is a life-long union and journey between two lovers, two best friends, and this journey needs to be shared together.
Therefore, it is important that you talk about everything and make decisions together. Some things may not be important to you and others not so important to your spouse, and that is fine. But it’s important that you communicate it to one another.
My wife and I have heard too many times the notion that the wedding is “The Woman’s Day,” and therefore, she makes all the decisions. Of course, this is patently false.
Marriage takes two and she is not getting married alone. It does not matter if she has “thought about it longer,” it’s a selfish sentiment. Love and marriage require an extreme amount of selflessness, so we must put ourselves aside and embark on this life-long journey together.
I know women who have controlled every last aspect of their big day and ended up divorced within a year because they didn’t know what the wedding day or the marriage was about, and they confused the two.
Too many people prepare so much for the wedding day, but they don’t prepare
at all for the rest of their life, for everything which follows after that day.
Many men are happy to take a back seat and let the women do the work. Many women are thrilled to do everything their way. But here is a rule of thumb: what you do before marriage will set the tone for what you do in marriage.
Planning together allows you to really get to know each other in a way you haven’t before. You will learn the way each other thinks and makes decisions, how your significant other agrees and disagrees, handles conflict, works out problems, what annoys them, and so much more. There will be many surprising things that emerge during this time, and that is good.
For example, though my wife and I never fought during dating, we had big disagreements during this planning time. In addition, our emotional baggage and fear had begun to surface and needed to be dealt with.
Consequently, we had to learn and practice healthy conflict resolution, self-sacrifice, and compromise based on selfless love. We learned to love each other the way the other needed to be loved, not the way we felt like loving them.
This is a huge key to success in marriage!
My wife and I had our biggest disagreements and emotional tantrums during engagement. We also learned to work through them and to grow as individudals and as a couple. Learning to work through our problems together was a huge lesson that we had learned and that we could use for the rest of our life.
The lessons, virtues, and skills we need for a happily-ever-after do not start in marriage. They are formed, fostered, and developed beforehand.
And, if things explode and you can’t work it out between you, this is a great thing to know before you jump into marriage. Too many people discover things too late about their spouse, and their marriages are miserable because of it. Walk together. Plan together. Grow together.
Engagement Advice #3 – Prepare and Grow
Did you know that men and women who are called to a religious vocation must go through 8-12 years of formation in order to become a priest or Religious Sister? A minimum of 8 years!! There is a lot to learn.
Conversely, my wife and I had a measly four hours of wedding preparation with our diocese. Four hours!
Some people may have a whole weekend, but the bottom line is that nobody prepares us for marriage, and it’s much more difficult than we can imagine. It’s difficult to navigate and to make it work which is why so many end in divorce or have mediocre happiness.
With that being said, the more you can learn beforehand, and the more you understand what it takes to make a marriage work, the much more beautiful and long-lasting your relationship and future together will be.
Among the top five reasons for divorce are the following:
2. Financial issues
4. Religious issues
5. Selfishness, boredom, and cheating on your spouse
It is critical to get advice on finances, how to communicate effectively, how to grow together, work out problems and more. The issue is that nobody teaches us to do this, which means we need to be pro-active and work toward these issues ourselves.
We cannot emphasize enough how important purchasing and reading good books together and discussing them is. The more work you put in before the marriage, the more you will reap the benefits, and the more bountiful the beautiful fruit of marriage will be. If you take short cuts or choose not to grow together, you will only pay for it down the road, as so many unfortunately do. Many marriages do not even last five years.
Reading, discussing, and growing are some of the best things you could ever do together,
and it will help you to grow individually, collectively, and generally in your marriage.
For this reason, we have a few recommendations for you to buy, read, and discuss together. There will be more engagement advice for Catholic couples in Part 2, including some of the most important tips that will take your marriage to new heights!
1. A Marriage Preparation Program book: A Decision to Love – By John M. V. Midgley.
2. A Catholic Handbook for Engaged and Newly Married Couples – By Fredrick W. Marks
3. For Better Forever! A Catholic Guide to Life-Long Marriage – By Gregory Popcak (Our #1 recommended book for marriage. A must read for all couples).
EXTRA: Know someone who is still single? Especially later on in life? Here are 7 reasons they may still be single. Send them this video!