One only has to take a look at the dire statistics to see that sacramental marriage is facing massive problems. Fewer couples are taking advantage of the sacrament. More are undermining their marriage’s chances of survival by living together. And the divorce rate continues to rise.
What, then, can a single Catholic man do now to ensure a successful and long-lasting marriage?
Believe it or not, plenty.
Here are a few tips on things you can and should begin working on right now to divorce-proof your future marriage.
1. Eliminate the d-word
Agree as an individual that the word divorce is not a part of your vocabulary. Banish it. If you agree to eliminate it as an option, you’re unlikely to turn to it in the troubled times of your marriage.
Before you enter marriage, realize that every marriage goes through challenging times once the initial romance wears off.
Whether you’re totally unattached, dating or engaged, you can pray. Begin praying for your significant other at this very moment. Stop reading this for a moment and silently utter a prayer for whomever God has created for you.
Once you find her, at the very least, pray with her. Pray for direction in your life together. Attend Mass with her.
It’s said that couples who pray and worship together reduce their chances for divorce by more than 50 percent.
3. Practice purity
Over the past couple of years I’ve personally known at least half a dozen couples who were married and, largely through a lack of fidelity on the husband’s part, ended up divorcing within just a couple of years.
One left his young bride for another woman. Another was a serial adulterer. Another was addicted to pornography and brought a prostitute into his home. Clearly, there’s an epidemic problem.
Men can have difficulty controlling their appetites. If you have a problem with sexual impurity or promiscuity, get a handle on it now. For the sake of your future wife and your marriage, do not bring this problem into your marriage. Rather, bring it to confession. Pray about it. Fast. Get professional help. By all means, work on it.
4. Discover Theology of the Body
Do something to learn more about Pope John Paul II’s teachings on the Theology of Body. Take a class, attend a lecture, read a book.
Not only will you learn about God’s plan for human sexuality, but you’ll also learn about your own body and you’ll learn that you can’t look at and treat your future spouse as an object for your own gratification. She is a beautiful, unrepeatable child of God, meant to be loved and to love. The Theology of the Body will teach you how to do that.
5. Ditch the video games
I’ve heard countless stories of adult males who have a greater love for Call of Duty and Halo than for the women in their lives. Others jeopardize their jobs endlessly playing video games. If this sounds like you, admit your addiction and ditch the video games. Develop a plan for responsible use of such media.
6. Don’t cohabitate
The research is out there. One of the greatest gifts you can bring to a future marriage is to not cohabitate. Study after scholarly study points to divorce rates of between 50 and 100 percent for couples who choose to live together before marriage – no matter social, economic or demographic factors.
Cohabitation leads to marital instability.
7. Learn natural family planning
Finally, do yourself and your future wife a favor by learning about modern, scientific natural family planning. Don’t bring a contraceptive mentality into your marriage. Contraception not only puts a barrier between you and your wife in the most intimate area of your lives, but it also prevents you from bonding emotionally.
Statistics show that couples who learn and practice natural family planning are the most successful. Less than 2 percent of couples who learn and practice NFP end up getting divorced.
Further reading for men
CatholicMatch is proud to feature many strong Catholic men on “Faith, Hope & Love.” Check out these role models:
- The former GQ model who speaks about chastity
- The sports fanatic who quit his job because of his ethics
- The Xbox 360 gamer who left everything to become a friar
- The bishop who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life & Youth
- The ER doctor who prays on his way to work
- The priest who comforted a town in the grip of grief
- The convert whose writings edify thousands online
- The single dad who raised two beautiful daughters