Tuesday, December 07, 2010

on marriage...

... hardly the expert, I can count exactly fours times I have tackled the subject on blog over the course of six whole years. Each time was for very specific reason usually involving some one else. Looking through the archives the only instances I have made mention of my own personal experience with marriage was to discuss divorce and it's effects on the soul.

Very rarely will I write candidly about my personal life; this is one such time.

The process of discernment is used to contemplate vocations; various vocations, such as marriage, the single life, parenthood and religious vocations. Many view the last as the only true reason for discernment and therefore anyone else seeking direction in the other matters do not technically qualify as persons in need of a Spiritual Director. Hence, the poll in my side bar. We'll save that for another post.

In regards to marriage what I have discerned thus far is, I desire Heaven more than I desire a spouse.

Does this mean I should be a nun? Not necessarily. What this does mean is that I do not want to marry someone who will not help me reach my goal, Heaven. Look, I can get to hell on my own. I don't help there. So it doesn't make sense to cleave myself to a man who doesn't share my faith or barely practices his.

Is it possible I may never marry? Yes. Am I ok with this? I am getting there. It is also entirely possible that the only man strong enough to keep my sorry ass out of Hell is Christ Himself. That I am ok with. Will He chose me as His spouse? Doubtful.

Whatever lay ahead of me, the choice I am going to make is always going to the one in favor of keeping me from roasting in eternal damnation. That is really all there is to discern. I'm no expert on marriage, obviously. I am never going to give marital advice, ever. Don't ask.

Really the only thing I have to say on the subject is that marriage should be an edifying union in which two souls become one flesh with the ultimate outcome of helping the other attain Heaven. Procreation is just a perk.

Oh, and I am in the process of spiritual discernment. I'll let you hens speculate as to which vocation.


Terry Nelson said...

Very beautiful... Keep this up.

Now don't be offended - but I kinda told you to go this route - give up the whole idea of marriage - consecrate your life, and so on - and Jim Caveziel will be on your doorstep.

Theocoid said...

Kat, I'm praying for your discernment. Your willingness to open up your life to others is the mark of humility, and that is a good trait to possess.

Grace and peace to you. And a bit of chocolate now and then.

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with ya. I've thought about religious life off and on over the years and have decided that it's probably not for me. I don't know if marriage is either. I think it's a good mindset to have though. It keeps me from just settling for anyone - something my family wishes I would do. They don't seem to understand that my laundry list for a man is not that long. But at the very top of my shortlist is that he has to be a practicing Catholic. Being single is OK with me. There are moments where I long for a warm body next to me at night. But not enough for me to forsake heaven. Like you said, I can get to hell on my own.

I don't mean to rattle on, but this touched a chord inside me. Good luck on your journey called life. I love your blog! :)


Adoro said...

Kat ~ Don't let anyone make you think that discernment applies ONLY to the religious Vocation.

Quite honestly, too many people believe that and that's why the divorce rate is so high...because people react to their crotches more readily than they do to the tug upon their souls.

EVERY soul should put Heaven first, for that focus on that end is what guides legitimate discernment. It's not about romance and roses and boxes of cheap white zinfandel on the beach, but about whether the other is willing to die for their beloved in the name of the Beloved.

True love has to do with eternity; that of eternal bliss versus eternal damnation.

My prayers are with you. God bless.

Maggie said...

amen Kat! And Rhonda, I agree! So many friends and relatives tell me my expectations are too high because I want to marry someone who loves Jesus and His Church more than he loves me (that is to say, a passionately practicing Catholic). If that means I'll never marry, that is God's will and he asks obidience.

priest's wife said...

you are on the right track if you desire heaven more than anything...and yes, a bad husband is MUCH WORSE than being single- being single has some very nice things about it...:)

Just another mad Catholic said...

A tender personenl moment deserves a tender personnel response

As you and other readers will know I SOOOOO wanted to find a nice Catholic girl, settle down and have lotsa kids. I wanted that because my parents split up nearly ten years ago and I wanted a second chance to play happy families. Yet all the while I had this feeling that God wanted me to be a Religious Priest and the more I prayed to find a good Catholic girl the more intense this feeling became.

Finally I made an appointment with a vocation director and in doing so I felt as if I'd accepted his invitation.

My own opinion (worthless at it is) is that you would make a very good Bride of Christ; however if you discern that marriage is your thing then the best of luck to you.


PaxetBonum said...

"Procreation is just a perk". Whoa, GREAT line. And sex is, what then- just a side issue? Or a sideshow?

I'm away a couple days, I check back and you've gone all cosmic on us. Kat, you are really something else.

Some of the best spiritual advice I ever heard was that life is a process of continual discernment, and faith a process of continual conversion. If the first thing your spiritual director asks you at every meeting isn't, "So Kat, how is your prayer life?", get another SD.

As for religious life, you'll never really know until you try it, seriously and for an extended period of time. You may think you are called to this, that or the other order, charism, apostolate, observance, etc, but until you get into a specific house and into the life and pray and listen over a significant period, you won't really know. And remember, sometimes no answer is an answer. Been there, done that. Just my $.02.

A happy and peaceful Advent to you and The Boy.

The Ironic Catholic said...

"It is also entirely possible that the only man strong enough to keep my sorry ass out of Hell is Christ Himself."

Best line in the blogosphere this week.

Janny said...

Kat, this stuff is inspiring. Whether you know it or can quite believe it :-), your posts are a tremendous witness in so many ways. Just posted this to my Facebook page with the lead-in of "I hope my kids will read this." :-)

And I do.

After spending a lot of time and doing a lot of surfing over a lot of Catholic blog sites, and gradually pruning most of them from my bookmarks, I return to yours and Fr. Z's the most. For sheer value, you leave so many of the others in the dust it ain't funny.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

May God bless you in your discernment!


Christie said...

This is the best marital advice I've ever read. "In regards to marriage what I have discerned thus far is, I desire Heaven more than I desire a spouse."

It appears you are way ahead of me in discerning what marriage is--and yes, I'm married. I've got a lifetime to work it out and I've got a housefull to help me along the way. That helps and that complicates the process.

Praying for you. Pulling for you.

G said...

"Prayer is something we do in our time. The answers come in God's time."

I would question the way you are approaching this as it seems you may be looking at this in binary fashion; either I get married or become a nun. This is not to trivialize the fact you may have vocation to the consecrated religious life, you might, but another possibility exists.

What you are going through might be exactly what you need to be completely prepared for when the right man crosses your path. Among the most important virtues in marriage is patience, and you are certainly being taught an upper-division course on that right now.
It further sounds like you have had some realizations about how a man/married life can hinder your spiritual progress so therefore you must also be discerning how it can help. You may never have had these insights without this ongoing process of trying to better understand what God wants of you. It may be confusing and it certainly can be frustrating, but it is also is very effective, isn't it?

Keep at it!

S said...

I almost never comment, here or anywhere, but I read you here often. You're actually on our blog roll, though you may not know it. Anyway...

It takes a very special gift of grace to be able to say, publicly say, "It is also entirely possible that the only man strong enough to keep my sorry ass out of Hell is Christ Himself." Whatever else it is that His Majesty has in store for you, may He bless you abundantly and with much peace!

-Miss Kitty

Piotrek said...

This is always hard to swallow, but the fastest road to holiness is through detachment from all created things (the Lord calls it "hate" in the Gospel - Luke 14:26). This brings on suffering and reliance on God alone. In this light looking for a mate seems counter productive. There a reason why people make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and it isn't just a simple lifestyle choice. It's an act of self-denial.

therese rita said...

Some great comments...just have to add two cents:
"Will He choose me as His Spouse? Doubtful" cannot be a correct statement bc He's already chosen you. No matter what vocation you're in or go into, He wants to be married to you, in complete union, forever. Period.
Marriage to Him is 100% more demanding & 100% more rewarding than earthly marriage. Its not like so many (most?) people in our culture usually consider it: A consolation prize if you couldn't really get a man or whatever.
You already know all this, I'm sure. Just to reinforce: Jesus wants Union with each of us on a level we can't really imagine & are usually afraid of. That's the point of everything really...

Christopher Lake said...

I won't date a non-Christian, period. Been there, done that, learned my lesson.

If a woman and I are starting out on different pages, on the most important subject(s) in the world (who God is, knowing Him and have a relationship with Him, getting to Heaven), then, to me, whatever else we may have in common is of little significance by comparison. Also, I don't want to end up suffering the heartbreak of not seeing yet another person I love in eternity (if I make it to Heaven myself, that is!), and dating a non-Christian seems like almost a set-up for heartbreak, both in this life and, possibly, in eternity.

In fact, given that this year, I returned to the Catholic Church after years as a Protestant, and lost almost entire communities of Protestant friends in the process, I probably would not date anyone other than a serious Catholic (with a sense of humor, hopefully, too!).

The funny thing is, with all of this thought about it, I may not even end up getting married! I have the desire (sometimes) and the willingness to commit, but no prospects and, increasingly, less emotional energy to risk being hurt, at the age of 37.

If a spouse will help me to live a more holy life here, and get to Heaven, more so than being single will, then I pray that I find that woman. However, God will have to give me the strength to even hope for her, because honestly, at this point, it's easier for me not to hope very much (for a spouse)....

Christopher Lake said...

The monastic life is a non-issue for me... I admire it, love the beauty of it, in the lives of people who are called to it... but it's not for me. Sometimes, I wish that it were.

Gail F said...

As a married woman let me say that you have got the whole marriage thing figured out, and many married people don't. A bad man is not worse than no man at all (as you've found out), and a single life is a noble vocation that our society completely trashes, so many people end up married (or in one sexual relationship after another, married or not) because it honestly doesn't occur to them as a possibility. They think they are failures without a partner -- and the DSM actually lists failure to have a long-term sexual relationship as a sign of mental illness!

You do have to be called to marriage for marriage to work out well. But sadly, not all people called to marriage as a state actually find a spouse, and not all who do find a good spouse -- marriage is no different from other callings in this way. Sometimes people do end up with "second best," and that is not an automatic disaster either. God can make second best great too.

Lola said...

I had to get to the point of knowing that only Christ should come first. Before everything else.

And, I must admit, I'm not very good at putting our Dear Lord first. But, I suppose he's ok with me KNOWING he should be there.

I'm married with kids. I know my vocation for the present moment.

If my husband were to die before me after my children are raised, well, I think I'll be back to being a single girl. Mostly because I can't fathom living with a bunch of women. Even Holiness seeking women.

But, my big joke with my dh is that I must die first, because the darlings would take care of him in his old age but we're not so sure they'd take care of me.

Anna said...

So I've been a LONGTIME lurker on your blog. It's rather addicting, and I always read your posts and nod in agreement or laugh hysterically(at your "bad art" posts...those are priceless!). But I have to post now....this was the best post yet!

"Really the only thing I have to say on the subject is that marriage should be an edifying union in which two souls become one flesh with the ultimate outcome of helping the other attain Heaven. Procreation is just a perk." Heck, YES

TCN said...

OK, here's my two cents. My husband was an atheist. Now he isn't. I prayed many Rosaries for this, and Mary nagged on my behalf, and now he is a seriously practicing Catholic. We shall endeavor to get both our butts into heaven, and yes, Christ is the only man who can get ANY of us there. Nobody is perfect, either now or when you met, but all can attain it with hard work and tons of prayer. Don't bypass a good man because he isn't all into being Catholic. It might be YOUR job to get him there, you know?

Anonymous said...

This is a spectacular post, really. You've said, concisely and eloquently, exactly what I've been suspecting for some time now. There are certain aspects of both marriage and religious life that are SO attractive to me (I'm a woman, mid-twenties), and yet so far I haven't felt any strong call to either. It worries me a lot. I don't feel normal. But you are so correct to point out that the ultimate goal is Heaven, and that we must find the surest way there, even if that way doesn't gel with earthly desires or expectations.

I wish the best for you in your discernment, and thank you for your thoughtful post (and great blog in general!).

Charles Culbreth said...

Kat, beautifully profound essay.
Can I offer this? An image that provides insight into all we need know and realize about our spousal relationship to the Trinity-
Who remained at His feet during the crucifixion? Who were they? Who were they in relationship to Christ upon the cross? Why were they there...you get the point.

Jane said...

I am with you on not cleaving to a man who doesn't share your faith. Of course, I respect women who are able and choose to take on a man who doesn't; I wouldn't be here twice over without such women, as both my father and maternal grandfather converted long after they married, and my husband's parents are likewise of disparate Christian denominations.

But you have to be a certain type of woman to handle something like that, and I figured out pretty early on that I was the kind of woman who'd probably break down and cry if my child asked me, "How come Daddy doesn't come to church with us?" So I married the church organist; guaranteed to be there at every single service. :D

I wanted really badly, for about eight years, to be a nun, and seriously thought that I was called to that life, until I had a sudden revelation that my vocation was to marriage. I cried over it. I still have little pangs of longing when I see pictures of happy nuns, and I know my husband feels the same about monks. Yet, we are happy in our life together. My husband makes me a better woman, and I'd have trouble getting to heaven without him.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm late in posting. I just saw this. If you read this, fine. But I wanted to say I'm very glad for you. I'm not called to religious life either, nor to marriage. I love your blog! :)

Cruise the Groove. said...

"By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory." (Gaudium et Spes 48 # 1; 50.)

-Excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1652-1654

"According to the plan of God, marriage is the foundation of the wider community of the family, since the very institution of marriage and conjugal love is ordained to the procreation and education of children, in whom they find their crowning.