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For Your Marriage

Things You’ll Wish You Knew Before ‘I Do’

One of my favorite parts of my engagement to my fiancé George, (whom I met on CatholicMatch), came after I said, “Yes.” In the days and weeks following that sunny Saturday in June, treasured nuggets of information began to trickle out from our family and friends, cluing me into the behind the scenes planning that led to George on bended knee.

For weeks, my laid-back then-boyfriend carefully crafted a proposal involving our closest family and friends. From contacting my best friend and her husband to take photos and video footage to coordinating an engagement party at one of our favorite restaurants and swearing everyone to secrecy, he planned every detail, including the perfect location—under the iconic arches at our shared alma mater.

He was intentional and purposeful as he prepared to ask me to be his wife, even incorporating details from my carefully-laid hints during our courtship. Perhaps subconsciously, George was setting the foundation for our time as an engaged couple preparing for the sacrament of marriage and later, our journey as husband and wife.

We’re approaching this life-changing commitment in a different way than many of those around us. I’ve posted before about our wedding plans from choosing the venue to booking our honeymoon, but at the core of each of these choices is a focus on why we’re doing each of these things.

I’m called to be George’s wife and he’s called to be my husband. That’s a reality that goes beyond each of us, and we still do not know exactly what impact our union will have on each other, those around us and the rest of the world. What I do know is that we’re intentionally creating a marriage, not a wedding, through each month leading up to “I do.”

We’re intentionally doing marriage prep. Intentionally not cohabitating. Intentionally planning the wedding Mass. Intentionally planning a life based on faith.

Weddings are commonplace in our society, but not marriages. Among my peer group, I hear many reasons of why couples get married, and in so many instances, they accidentally fall into married life because of outside circumstances and not the prompting of the Holy Spirit. For some, they’re living together already and presume marriage is the next logical step in life. For others, they’re struggling with finances individually and hope that two combined incomes are better than one. Or maybe they just think they’re at the age where they should be married. And so they move forward, promising “‘til death do us part” at a wedding ceremony that they happen to be a part of.

Catholic writer Matthew Warner wrote about accidental living in a recent issue of the magazine Shalom Tidings:

“You were made to live intentionally. You were made to choose how you live your life, not to let life simply happen to you…If life is just happening to you, then you are caught up in the mire and mediocrity of accidental living. An accidental life will never be fulfilling to a creature that was made to choose.”

Just as we were made to choose a life that honors God, we were made to make intentional choices in all other aspects of life, including whom you marry. Living an intentional life is not taking the reins and being in control of every detail of your life. It’s choosing to allow God into your heart to guide you in all of your actions and decisions.

In our careers, we don’t expect promotions to get handed to us. We have to make a series of choices to prove ourselves along the way. You don’t accidentally find yourself in a dream career, even if every stepping stone magically aligned in the perfect way.

The same applies for relationships. You don’t accidentally find yourself in a happy, spiritually-centered marriage. You have to intentionally choose to search for the spouse God has planned for you (like by joining CatholicMatch!) and then live that call out with purpose.

Addressing volunteers at World Youth Day, Pope Francis encourages all of us to fight against the temptation of accidental living to not only follow God’s plan for each of us, but to live a life of happiness:

“God calls you to make definitive choices, and He has a plan for each of you: to discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move forward toward personal fulfillment…Have the courage to swim against the tide. And also have the courage to be happy.”
Pope Francis, Sunday, July 28, 2013

Don’t walk through life waiting for the next accident to occur. Live each day with intention—intention to bring glory to God through your future marriage and your life.

Article originally published by CatholicMatch Institute, which provides resources to help single Catholics develop a strong foundation for marriage through advocacy, programs, and scholarships. Used with permission.