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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Time to Hitch that Horse to a Carriage?

A quiz for the ladies

You love him. And you remember how the song goes... "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage." You're at "that" point, and it's time to consider what you'll say if he pops the question. Or maybe he's already popped it, and you haven't answered. Even if you've already said yes, until you've also said "I do," this is a time of discernment in your life. Don't waste it. Here, for Valentines Day, I offer you a marriage discernment quiz.

Answer each question as honestly as you can. Then read below to find out how to score. Don't peek ahead!

The Questions

1. Do you feel ready for marriage?

2. Is he good marriage material?

3. Does he inspire you to be a better person?

4. Do you inspire him to be a better person?

5. How does he feel about having children?

6. What things about him would you like to change?

7. Does he lift heavy things for you?

8. Are you physically attracted to him?

9. Does he admire you ridiculously?

10. Is he the one you can't live without, that you are absolutely certain you can spend a whole life with?




The Answers

I have a confession. Rather than answers, I've given some comments for consideration on each question. Come on, you knew better than to think that a total stranger could tell you whether you should get married!

1. Do you feel ready for marriage?
Sorry, this is a trick question. Well, sort of. The point is, don't let feelings be your big deciding factor because feelings alone can be deceiving. Discernment will take your emotional state into account, but shouldn't focus exclusively on how he makes you feel. Even less should it focus only on your state of readiness for marriage. Remember, you are not discerning just marrying. You are discerning marrying him.

This brings to mind another important consideration. It is tempting to reach a point where we want marriage and think we're at the right place in our lives for it. Don't make the mistake of deciding first to marry, then to marry whoever you happen to be dating. He's a man, not a tool.

Objectively, being ready for marriage is important. You should know how to run a household of one before you attempt to run a household of two. You should be able to manage money and communicate effectively. You should know how to respond to hurt without temper, and you should be able to shop and cook on a budget and a timetable. Whether you feel ready isn't very relevant. Are you ready?

2. Is he good marriage material?
Now that you've analyzed your own readiness, is he also ready? Is he able to give in sometimes? To do without the things he wants when there are things one or both of you need? Does he view marriage as permanent?

A good marriage is not give and take. It is give and give. You give to him, he gives to you. A good spouse is one who gives and allows you to give.

3. Does he inspire you to be a better person?
This is an important one. A man who makes you feel stable can be a good friend. A man who makes your heart flutter can be a powerful lover. But unless you want to grow when you're with him, you may end up stagnating instead. When you are at a happy point in your life, it is very easy to forget that growth must be a lifelong pursuit.

Ask yourself hard questions here: does he urge me to be kinder, or does he teach me to look out for number one? Does he do little things that you admire, that make you think you'd like to develop that trait? Is he courteous to waitresses and salespeople? Does he encourage you to tithe and volunteer for worthy causes?

Ask yourself, also, the even harder questions. Does he lead you into temptation and sin? If you are having sexual relations, how would he respond if you told him now that you need to stop?

4. Do you inspire him to be a better person?
Yes: you may have a gem.
No: you should give some serious thought to why. Is he not interested in being a better person? Or are you not making enough effort on your own to inspire another?

If you do not know, maybe you should find out.

5. How does he feel about having children?
Again, if you do not know, you should find out. There are certain elemental questions that any two people considering marriage must discuss. You need to know his views about having a family. Does he want one? Do you agree? How do you each feel about adoption? Birth control? Abortion?

If you are Catholic, you should seriously consider the fact that the Church only views as valid a marriage that is open to the possibility of children. If you are not Catholic and do not agree with this view, you should at least consider whether a person who does not want children is open to full sharing of life. If the person is not willing to be "put out" by the inconveniences of child rearing, how many other areas might he likewise not be willing to give up his own comfort and convenience?

Finally, even if you are really both committed to not having children, you need to know how your partner would feel if a child was conceived without planning. It happens, folks. All artificial methods of contraception have a failure rate. You need to agree before the fact on how you would respond together to a surprise child.

6. What things about him would you like to change?
This is another trick question. You can't change him. If you don't accept him the way he is, you don't have the option of pulling a bait and switch, offering him your unconditional love before the wedding and then placing conditions after.

7. Does he lift heavy things for you?
This falls under considerateness. Does he want to take care of you? Does he do for you the things that you have trouble doing yourself? You might also take a moment to ask yourself what things you can do for him to make his life easier.

8. Are you physically attracted to him?
By this I do not mean is he handsome. The most attractive man might have no appeal to you on a personal level, and a man who might seem homely to those not wise enough to see his quality could make your heart race. Don't marry a man solely because he makes your heart race, but if he happens to be an amazingly good, kind, responsible man who also makes your heart race, it is a good sign.

I knew before I ever met my husband in person that I was attracted to him. We had exchanged letters and phone calls, and his character and personality heightened my awareness of everything around me.

9. Does he admire you ridiculously?
If not, run. Do not marry a man who thinks himself better than you. I repeat, RUN.

10. Is he the one you can't live without, that you are absolutely certain you can spend a whole life with?
This is the $64k question. Don't ask yourself whether you are able to spend a life with one man... ask yourself if you could possibly spend a life without him.