In today’s culture getting married young may not be frowned upon, but it certainly isn’t very common. Recently, my fiancé and I, both in our early 20s, went on our engagement weekend, which was part of our marriage prep through the Church. There must have been 20-30 couples there, and I am almost positive we were the youngest ones.
Many might ask if that made me nervous, after all, being the youngest in any scenario can sometimes be intimidating. But with just over three months until the big day, I find myself getting more and more excited. However, that does not mean I don’t have some concerns. It is only natural that making the biggest decision of your life leads to at least some worry.
Preparing to Beat the Marriage Statistics
The statistics on marriage are not very encouraging, with the divorce rate at nearly 50 percent, but that is not what worries me. I know that marriage is permanent, and I know that my fiancé and I understand the important role God plays in our relationship. We understand the importance of everyday prayer and the ultimate goal of helping each other get to Heaven.
In preparation for marriage I have been doing a lot of self-reflection, and have spent a lot of time in prayer, asking God to transform my heart so that I may love more like He does. Part of me secretly hopes selflessness will magically manifest itself within me once I say “I do”… however, I am very well aware that this is not the case.
Self-Examination and Selflessness
As I have settled into the new chapter of my life as a young working professional, my initial reactions to various things have been short-tempered. In my self-reflection and prayer time I have been consistently asking God to help me, to grant me patience, selflessness, and love because I know I need all the grace God can give me when it comes to those things.
I have spent time asking myself, “Am I going to be a good wife?” “Am I selfless enough to get married?” “Am I ready to die to myself?”
But the reality is, are we ever truly selfless enough to get married?
Selflessness is not something that magically appears overnight, and it isn’t something that comes easy to everyone. I believe it comes easier to those from large families, but for those like myself who were raised as only children, I personally find it more difficult at times.
Your Spiritual Life Makes a Difference
However, I also know from my own experience that when I orientate my heart towards God, my desire to serve, and the joy I feel from serving others, not only makes cleaning and doing things for others easier, it makes them more enjoyable. I remember when my fiancé and I had only been dating a few months; he had an internship in his last semester of school and was sometimes not getting off work until nine, ten, or even eleven o’clock at night. At this point in my spiritual life, I felt incredibly connected to God, and in my love not only for God, but also my now fiancé at the time, I wanted to do something special for him. So I had a friend drive me over to his apartment and I cleaned it and made him cookies. I can say without a doubt that was one of the only times I had a smile on my face as I cleaned. It didn’t feel like a chore, it felt like a gift, a true gift of self.
In these times that I pray for selflessness as I prepare for my marriage, I think back to those days, and I ask myself why can’t I be like that now? I know that the way I felt in serving my fiancé was a direct result of my spiritual life, and my spiritual life has changed since then. I myself have changed. But I still want to be able to serve those around me with joy and love.
I am a different person from the person I was three years ago. I am not perfect, and I have grown in some ways while at the same time I feel as if I have not changed in others. But even in my moments of concern over whether or not I am grown up enough to start this next chapter, all I felt during the weekend was an overwhelming sense of peace. With all the change coming my way I was not afraid, I was not worried, I was excited. Despite being the youngest couple I felt like my fiancé and I were actually well equipped to begin our married life together.
God Makes His Presence Known
That Sunday when I went to Mass God spoke to me. Each of the readings touched on God being slow to anger, and quick to compassion, as well as teaching us not to hold on to hate, or anger, or to be vengeful. God knew that I had been struggling with that recently. As the Mass went on I prayed, I continued to pray for selfless love, for my frustrations and anger to not be quick, but to step back and respond in a kind and loving manner. I am far from perfect, and I am far from perfecting this, but that is what it means to be human, to be a sinner who has been saved by a God who is merciful, who is slow to anger and quick in compassion.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,
“God who created man out of love also calls him to love—the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man” (CCC 1604).
God is love. To be more fully connected to God our Father in our prayer and everyday lives gives us the ability to be Christ-like, to serve those around us, and to love those around us more fully in the way that each deserves. The Catechism goes on to say, “Man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them,” because when sin entered the world, the creation of marriage was affected.
Grace to Answer the Call
This grace that God never refuses, is the same grace I call on as I ask God to prepare not only my mind, but also my heart for marriage. So many believe that it is better to wait to get married, to wait until they are stable, have more money, etc. But there is never a truly right moment for us. The right moment is when God is calling you and you answer His call. God has a calling for each of us, and it is up to us to discern our vocations in life. For me, I have discerned my calling is to be the most loving and faithful wife, and one day mother, that I can be. In Ephesians 4:1 Saint Paul calls us,
“to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”
The journey that God takes us on is never the one that is easy. It is often the most demanding, not only of our time and persistence, but also of our faith and trust in Him. I will never be perfect, as I am human, and I am a sinner. But each day during my engagement, and into my marriage I will lean on Him, asking for His guidance, patience, mercy, and love. Through my prayer life I will seek to become more Christ-like to not only those who I encounter, but to those who I am closest to daily. Only through Christ and His example of what it means to love will I be able to “… strive to live in a manner worthy of the call.”