How do you know when you're ready to start dating?
Marie’s biggest advice is if you’re not ready to get married in 2 years from now, don’t be dating. Here’s why…waiting for marriage is HARD when you love somebody. And truly, it won’t take THAT long for you to figure out if you are meant for each other if you’re dating with purpose. Yes, dating is to figure out who you’re supposed to marry, so there shouldn’t be much pressure at first, but after 3-5 dates you should be ready to decide whether this person is worth pursuing and discerning marriage with or not. Please do NOT be a serial dater and just date people for fun. Date with purpose.
Is physical attraction important for dating?
Absolutely! It shouldn’t be the ONLY thing, but it absolutely should be something you consider. Sex and children are a huge part of marriage, so it’s important that you find your spouse physically attractive. Not only does it make dating and marriage more fun, but it could be very damaging in the long run if you don’t find your spouse attractive.
What kind of conversations are important tohave before entering into engagement?
- Religion. This is something that should be discussed well before dating. If you aren’t willing to date and marry somebody who is not the same religion as you, then don’t even waste your time dating them.
- Children. How many-ish do each of you want? Obviously that number might change from time to time but agreeing on a general ballpark number is great!
- Natural Family Planning. If you’ve never heard of it, it is a scientific discipline where women can interpret their biological signs of fertility to know whether they are fertile or not. It’s the only approved method of family planning by the Catholic church. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about this.
- What religion will your raise your children? If you are okay with dating and marrying someone of another faith, you need to discuss what religion they will be raised. As Catholics, we have to raise our children Catholic according to the church. Discuss this before getting engaged to prevent arguments about it in the future.
- Finances. How much savings and debt does each person have? How do they treat their money?
- Political Stance. For some people this is a make it or break it thing. But know where that stand and you’ll know what issues you likely will butt heads on and it can better prepare you for those conversations you are bound to have with them.
- Family History. How were you raised? What traditions are important to you? This one affects marriage WAY more than you’d expect. How we are raised truly determines how we act, how we react to certain situations, etc.
- Long Term Picture. Where do you see yourself in 30 years? There is no way to predict where you will be, but you want to make sure you are on the same path and that you are pursuing the same goals together. Do you see yourself with a family? Do you see yourself living in a different state? etc.
How do you prioritize chastity in properly setting boundaries before marriage?
First off, this is WAY easier said than done. But it is very important to have conversations about it often. You need to be very open with each other, even though it can be uncomfortable at first. It’s ok and GOOD to be attracted to somebody, but we shouldn’t be acting on those attractions until we’re married.
A good rule of thumb is that if somebody is starting to get pretty aroused, that’s where the line is, maybe even a little before that. Is arousal itself a sin? No. But too often as soon as that happens we begin to lust after each other and then we cross that line even more. It is such a slippery slope, so be 100% open with each other about exactly what that means for you.
Another tip is to try to limit alone time. Yes, sometimes having alone time together is very important, but you can have alone time for intimacy while taking a walk, going on a bike ride, going out to eat, etc. It doesn’t have to be alone in a room, a car, or another tempting place.
Finally go to confession often. I don’t know a single couple who hasn’t struggled with this before marriage to some degree. Mess ups are almost inevitable. But keep striving, frequent the sacraments as much as possible, and work to keep God at the center of your relationship.
What is one piece of advice that youwant every young Catholic woman to know?
“Our vocations are God’s unique plan to get us to heaven. It won’t always be crystal clear, and it will change throughout your life, but know that God has you EXACTLY where you are at this moment for a very specific reason. It’s ok to not understand why or to know what he is doing, but trust in his goodness and love for you. He will NEVER lead you astray.” -Marie