5 Ways to Prepare Yourself For Marriage

Marriage is wonderful, but it brings with it a lot of responsibilities and duties. Scripture and the teaching of the Church are quite clear— the husband is the head of the home, and he bears the primary responsibility before God for its happiness and holiness. In imitation of Jesus, the husband is the prophet, priest, and king of the domestic church.

Because marriage is serious business, entering it with the mentality of an adolescent, with no forethought whatsoever, is a recipe for disaster. It is alright to be immature when you get married, but it is not alright to stay that way. You should be pursuing maturity and holiness with passion long before you begin to think about marriage.

So as a Catholic considering marriage, how should your prepare yourself? What steps can you take to get ready for this joyful responsibility?

Here are the top 5 ways you can prepare yourself for a holy and happy marriage.

1. Pursue virtue - Every Catholic man, young or old, married or unmarried, should be actively pursuing virtue. But if you are thinking seriously about marriage, it should be priority number one. Marriage brings with it tremendous responsibilities, and habits of holiness are necessary to face these challenges manfully.

For example, let’s say it is your first year of marriage. You have a good job that pays the bills, but one day, you get a pink slip. You are laid off with no way to provide for your family. How do you face this challenge? The virtue of fortitude, or courage, will provide the mettle necessary to pick yourself up and look for another job in the face of humiliation and discouragement.

Or say you are coming home after a long day at work. You simply want to sit on the couch in front of the TV, but your wife is lonely and wants to spend an hour talking. What do you do? The selfish man ignores his wife and watches TV, but the virtuous man practices charity. He forgets about himself and meets his wife’s needs.

Without the consistent practice and cultivation of virtue, your marriage is in for a lot of problems. Prepare for marriage by cultivating virtue at every opportunity.

2. Be wise financially - It is so easy to be stupid with money. Credit card companies market to college students, and personal loans are easily obtained. Cars or the latest electronic gadgets are marketed by monthly payments rather than full price (think 60″ TV for $99 a month), making the temptation to instant gratification almost too much to bear. And that’s not even factoring in the crushing weight of student loans that most young people face. Saving? Most young men think that’s something you start doing in your 50s.

I confess I was unwise financially before we got married. Excited to be finally making my own money, I bought whatever I wanted— often using credit. I rationalized, thinking I could afford the payments. When it came time to get married however, the seriousness of my stupidity sunk in. Rather than having money in the bank, I was in the red. And guess what: I was bringing that burden into our marriage and sharing it with my wife. It wasn’t a good feeling.

Prepare now by being wise financially. Tell yourself no. Maybe you can afford a new iPhone, but do you really need it? Put the money you would spend in the bank. Pay down every bit of debt you can. Never, ever buy a new car, no matter how low the payments may be. If you need guidance, check out financially teachers like Dave Ramsey. As much as is within your power, enter your marriage with a strong financial footing.

3. Learn and practice the Faith - As a husband and father, you will be the spiritual head of your family. Sadly, many men are content to leave the spiritual guidance to their wives. They abdicate their role as priest of the home and check out in matters of faith. This is not an option for the Catholic gentleman. You must prepare yourself to lead your family spiritually.

Purchase a Catechism and study it. Read the lives of the saints and the spiritual classics, even if only for 5 minutes a day. Pray the rosary. Go to confession frequently. Strive to become a saint and leave mediocrity and lukewarmness behind. In short, make the faith a priority, even if it hasn’t been to this point.

4. Be pure – Temptations to sexual impurity abound in the modern world. Pornography is just a click away, scantily clad women adorn countless advertisements, and sexual content saturates movies and television. In addition, the hookup culture on college campuses and marital infidelity are rampant.

But no matter how many temptations there are, there is no excuse for sexual impurity. Indulging in sexual sins can and will destroy your soul and your marriage. Strive manfully against these temptations, and instead, fill your mind with all that is holy. As St. Paul says, “flee fornication.” Be radical in fighting temptations. If TV is causing you to sin, get rid of it. If you computer is causing you to sin, install a strict filter and get an accountability partner. Do whatever you have to do.

Save yourself for your wife and enter your marriage with a positive sort of naiveté. While this is scorned by the world, it will be treasured by your wife.

5. Seek wisdom – One of the hallmarks of youth from time immemorial is a disdain for the wisdom of their elders. For some strange reason, youth seem to think they have all the knowledge they will ever need, and adults don’t really understand the world, despite their treasury of experience. Of course, this attitude is the height of stupidity. Proverbs has many strong words for the mockers and fools who scorn their elders, and scripture is crystal clear that elders are to respected and learned from.

The young Catholic gentleman should be soaking up wisdom like a sponge. Pray every day for the gift of true wisdom— not worldly wisdom, but godly wisdom. Spend time with your elders and be humble enough to learn from them. Don’t segregate yourself off from adults or those who are more mature (I have a big problem with youth groups that separate boys from men). Have conversations with the wise and mature. Find a holy mentor if you can; a man you can trust who can guide you and teach you. Again, read the saints and absorb their holy counsels. Read holy scripture daily, especially Proverbs, Wisdom, or Sirach. Read The Love of Eternal Wisdomby St. Louis de Montfort.

In the life of the Catholic man, there is no substitute for the possession of true wisdom. Being worldly wise is for those who don’t care about getting to heaven, and it isn’t something you should concern yourself with. Instead, seek true, spiritual wisdom with all that you have.

Conclusion

Can you ever be fully ready for marriage? I don’t think so. Experience is the best teacher, and marriage reveals your selfishness, immaturity, and pride like nothing else. It will be a learning experience itself, maturing you more quickly than anything else.

But that doesn’t mean you should enter marriage as an overgrown boy. Strive to be a man your future wife can be proud of. More importantly, strive to be a saint, and everything else will fall into place. Marriage is a serious responsibility— far more serious than many realize— and you should prepare for it as such.

Married men, what is your advice for those considering marriage? If you’re not married, how are your preparing for marriage?

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted on The Catholic Gentleman and is republished here with kind permission. 

 

By

Sam Guzman is an author and editor of The Catholic Gentleman whose work has appeared in several publications. He resides in Wisconsin with his wife and two small boys where he is also the Communications Director for Pro-Life Wisconsin.

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  • Seth Wm. Peters

    I think there’s something to be said for the Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony– plan to avail yourself to that Grace– be aware that you lack that Grace until your wedding day, and it will significantly enable some of the other goals you mentioned. I think many men still single don’t feel they are truly capable of being good husbands. They forget the Grace that accompanies their journey to becoming worthy of their wife. To that end, it may be helpful to cultivate a devotion to Divine Mercy before marriage.

  • BillinJax

    I could not agree with you more Sam. It all rings clear to me, a father of four and happily married for almost 60 years now to a most wonderful loving and holy wife. Having been through all of the highs and lows you have noted above I had written my summary a few years ago in thanksgiving to God.

    Christian
    Marriage and Family Life

    No marriage can succeed without a clear understanding of the purpose of
    such a union in the first place. Let’s take a look at what we see today in our
    society.
    Entirely too many marriages are based not on commitment but on the
    convenience of one or both partners. In order to share property, expenses,
    space, status, possessions, or bodies is no basis on which to build a lasting
    relationship. The church did not sanctify marriage simply to benefit individuals.
    It joins a man and a woman together in holy matrimony for the sake of society
    and the sanctity of family life in order to assure the continuance of humanity
    in the name of our creator.

    We should not look upon the sacrament of marriage as a granting of certain
    rights or privileges. Marriage allows us to commit our lives to each other and
    become united and commissioned to a task. Joined together before God and man we
    accept responsibility of living together as one, dedicated to our unique
    ability to procreate and vow to make every effort needed to love, honor, and cherish that union
    and commitment until death do us part.

    Once our concept of marriage embraces these facts and parameters of marital
    commitment we can seriously consider our options. Until then we would be better
    off aspiring to be our very best at singular life endeavors which can also
    enrich and benefit our society.

    Understanding the purpose of married life and willing to commit to the
    enrichment of family living is half of the challenge we accept. It is the test
    for our intellect and honor.

    Before making our wedding plans we need to prayerfully consider the
    challenges which the vows of marriage and family life will bring to us. There
    will be tests of and new requirements on such things as our:

    Energy and Emotions, Gifts and Goals, Patience and Perseverance, Pride and
    Priorities, Time and Talents

    And just what are vows anyway? A vow is a solemn pledge or personal
    commitment. Broken down it looks like this:

    Solemn- a dignified or serious formality

    Pledge- a promise to do or provide

    Commit- to bind or obligate, to assure

    So our Christian marriage vows are formal dignified serious promises to
    bind and obligate ourselves to provide for each other for as long as we live.
    They are not offered as suggestions for social behavior or guidelines for
    community living. They are solemn personal assurances given before God on our
    honor to our spouse and extend to any offspring as our commitment toward a
    sound and holy family life.

    These vows, unlike the intellect test for understanding and commitment,
    reveal the test for our heart and soul. They require our dedication and effort.
    For our marriage to be successful we must be wholly dedicated to provide all
    the effort and sacrifices needed in a loving family in any situation with
    tender affection even though we may be feeling too busy, exhausted, helpless, or
    unprepared. Fulfilling our vows under stressful conditions takes courage but it
    also gives us an opportunity to build essential character in our lives.

    This kind of dedication and effort unfortunately are not common traits
    among many people today. Millions of dollars are spent annually by marketing
    groups for hundreds of manufactures and organizations encouraging us to indulge
    ourselves with every kind of “personal” products, services, or pleasure for our
    own sake. Who can deny this enticing investment works for them? Just to have what they want or get what they
    can’t afford people often sell their future savings or souls. Individuals have become so obsessed with
    personal gratification that they have no time or patience or even the thought
    of satisfying anyone else’s needs. This is totally contrary to the teachings of
    our Lord. The healthiest approach to life is to limit our desires to the most
    essential needs for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible. This would
    include our parents, family, spouse, and children first and then anyone who
    depends on us for their daily needs or direction. It is no wonder that over
    half of marriages fail when society as a whole has fallen into the luring pit
    of selfcenteredness.

    Unfortunately we are often too busy with everyday chores to notice we are
    being manipulated by forces within the media, elitist educators, teen idols,
    and self serving celebrities and politicians. We need a wake up call in order
    to see what is happening to us and within our society. The same is true
    regarding our spiritual lives. We need to understand we are not here to serve
    ourselves but to serve our God through humanity in general and our community
    and family in particular. We need to look out for each other willingly and consistently.

    To be fully Christian is to follow Christ and his sole requirement for that
    is to “take up our cross” first. (Some of our crosses are heavy to be sure, but
    he promises to make our burdens lighter if we’ll only ask.) After we’ve done that, it is time to focus on
    our needs and desires. Again, being Christians first and foremost our critical
    goal should be to live our lives in service to God which is to abide by his
    commandments with anticipation of living eternally with him when he calls us
    home. Can we imagine how awesome it would be living eternally with an
    omnipotent benevolent God in the place he has prepared for us and all who love
    him? What price would we not pay, what burden is too heavy? Pray that your
    heart’s desire is that you and yours be with him in paradise.

    It takes a little practice and lots of prayer to learn that looking out for
    others as much as for ourselves (or even a little more at times) is as natural
    as breathing and just as good for us. Over time, when it becomes a natural
    habit and you learn its lesson, you’ll begin to feel really good about being
    alive. Why? Becoming free of yourself allows you time and opportunity to look for
    and find Christ and his needs in others just as he asked us to do.

    We could call this new freedom “selflessness”. All at once you realize
    showing kindness to others at the risk of denying yourself is refreshing to the
    soul and rejuvenates your spiritual energy. Your heart swells at the awareness
    of having given up something of yourself for the benefit of others without
    being required or requested to do it. Your conscience is able to escape the “I
    want or I need” and searches for all kinds of ways to assist, encourage, or
    improve the welfare of others within your influence.

    Suddenly you understand what being created in the image of your creator is
    all about and you want to proclaim it to the world with humble and sincere acts
    of love. It is a giving up of your “self’ interests for the benefit of others.
    This allows you the opportunity to engage in the divine activity of true
    love—“no greater love is there than this that one give his life for his
    friends.” And we have been told very clearly the example of a “friend” in the
    gospels.

    The very Spirit of God’s message is that he has given us life and we in
    turn give our lives in service to others for the sake of his people. The “Thy
    will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is accomplished by our doing His will
    here among His people. And the “do unto others as you would have others do unto
    you” is fulfilled by our selflessness within our families first and as much of
    the world around us as possible. Can you imagine a world where everyone is
    doing all they can for everyone around them? This is the Spirit of creation God
    had in mind for us in the beginning before we became “selfish” children.

    Having said this, we need to understand we are “human” and as such we do
    fail occasionally even with our best efforts. Our loving Father is aware of our
    finite nature and he has told us that as we forgive others he wants to forgive
    us. Most importantly as the “children of god” and wishing to be like him we
    must be willing to forgive ourselves also. Otherwise we will self destruct
    falling into the hands of the “Deceiver” in despair or hopelessness. We have to
    be fearless and willing to fight the good fight for our sake AND
    for our Father in heaven.

    In summary, young couples who believe they want to
    spend the rest of their lives together and anticipate marriage should give
    considerable thought and prayer to the realities they face in establishing the
    proper family life environment for themselves and their children. Remembering
    that a happy and wholesome family life begins and thrives when mother and dad
    learn and teach a lifestyle based on the loving practice of –selflessness— which
    welcome our loving Lord’s promised Holy Spirit to live and dwell in their
    hearts and guide them home to him.

    Bill Sr.

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