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Single Living

A friend of mine once romanced the idea of living at an earlier age in history. The eighteenth century or so would have suited her perfectly, she offered, because life was so much simpler, then. We didn’t have to deal with things that kept us “plugged in” and separated from each other. Families ate, played and prayed together. People valued faith in God and communities were based upon common beliefs in God our Creator, she argued.

I disagreed. For one thing, I like indoor plumbing. It’s certainly my preference to the alternative. And, they didn’t have any California Pizza Kitchens back then, so, I got that going for me here in the 21st century. Now that may seem selfish and shallow, but things are better these days, despite the negatives. Many people died from common diseases that are now highly preventable and treatable. And despite technology that keeps one glued to a hand-held device, my husband, children and I still eat, play and pray together.

But she does have a point in stating that our hearts and minds were less cluttered by today’s problems and more in tune with each other back then. Which leads me to a thought I’ve been musing over for a few days…

I hear so many people complain about not being able to find the right one. Okay, I get it. I went through it myself. But when you contrast today’s problem of finding the right one with the arranged marriages of 200 years ago, it makes you wonder if maybe sometimes we aren’t are own worst enemy? Is it the single person, in particular, who is standing in the way of his/her own love story?

Interesting thought, eh?

Back in the day, arranged marriages most often took place between families of royal descent, trying to procure an acceptable union for their children so as to keep the line of royalty, well, royal. But arranged marriages are part of many different cultures even today and they don’t seem to be presenting much problem. As a matter of fact, according to the website, Statistic Brain, 55% of global marriages are arranged and only 4% of those end in divorce.

Interesting thought number two.

Now, I am not suggesting that here in the land of the free and the home of the brave we should return to arranged marriages. I believe with the way society operates today, it is difficult for singles to meet like-minded individuals, especially those who desire faith-filled, chaste relationships. That is why CatholicMatch provides such a needed and unique service to Catholics everywhere. But it does beg the question, What makes arranged marriages last?

In my humble opinion, I think there are three factors that help these marriages become solid, permanent unions:

1. The love between the two spouses is not based upon emotion, it is based upon the true definition of love (1 Cor 13: 1-7).

How many times have you been out with someone and come home saying, “I just didn’t feel anything.” According to the arranged marriage recipe, that’s just not a valid disqualifier. Maybe you should rethink that statement. Is it really necessary to be completely swept off your feet on the first date? How many perfect matches have you let get away because you didn’t feel anything?

2. Physical attraction is important, but does not supersede the goal of being married.

Okay, I could flog this horse to death but I’m sure you understand the importance of this point. Very few people on earth, compared to the entire population, have supermodel looks (male and female). But most people in the world are beautiful in their own way. You just need to get to know them. Give them a chance to let you in on how attractive they really are and you could be hooked for the rest of your life. Surprise!

3. The understanding that love is not culminated at the time of the wedding, it is only just the beginning.

So many people equate the wedding day as everything has led to this point and now it’s simply “happily ever after.” All that does is diminish the value of what marriage really is about. Marriage offers the distinct opportunity for a man and a woman to begin experiencing each other in the most unique and intimate way.

The ultimate experience in learning about each other begins as you embark on married life, not during the dating relationship, and with each phase of learning how to live with each other, accept each others strengths and weaknesses, laugh and cry with each other, etc., love is deepened and enriched in a way no dating relationship could accomplish.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s your mission: Next time you receive an emotigram, a message, or an invitation to go out by someone who at first glance you think is not your type, pursue it! Give that person a chance. Open the door of your heart and allow possibilities to enter!

And feel free to send me your questions, comments and complaints to asklisa@catholicmatch.com.

(This post has been read 4,744 times)

40 Comments

  1. Mark-973089 July 8, 2013

    Great advice Lisa, but sadly a lot of people on here will still not heed your advice on the last paragraph.

    People still have their preconcieved notions on age differences, location, physical appearances that people just simply will not overlook

  2. Jan-803232 July 8, 2013

    You are correct, Mark! Most people will not give any consideration to someone who does not meet their physical criteria. It appears a persons value as a human being is determined by the “Barbie” factor. If you are overweight for whatever reason, you’ll go nowhere. It makes me wonder about the type of “Christians” we really are. I expected “Catholic” match to be different. It isn’t. Superficialilty is alive and well here too.

  3. Audrey-964855 July 8, 2013

    I like the third point that marriage is just the beginning. Great reminder. If we give more thought to the progress / changes in our friendships or family relationships over the years, we’d probably understand much better why and how a relationship develops over time. (that is, assuming one’s friendships are not superficial!) One of my strongest friendships went through an incredibly tempestuous time due to our respective personal issues, but it mended and is stronger than it was before. And many times, when I’ve tried to give the ‘other person’ a chance, it’s not reciprocated … We can all afford to be a little wiser, and less judgmental.

  4. Linda-442926 July 8, 2013

    Great post! Although I agree with the factors, I’m not sure that’s entirely why arranged marriages last. I think a large factor is also the cultures and belief systems where arranged marriages are still the norm; the fact that arranged marriages have a lower divorce rate does not necessarily correlate with the positive elements listed above. Divorce in some cultures is not an option.

    In response to the post and the factors above, I would recommend the movie “Fireproof”! It’s about the importance of God at the center of the relationship and supports the points made Lisa’s post. Although it was produced by a Baptist company, the Catholic Church had a hand in supporting its development and even adapted the resources for Catholics to use in marriage.

    • Anne-311594 July 10, 2013

      Thanks Linda for posting your thoughts! I agree, divorce is not an option or the person seeking the divorce is disowned in some countries. I also agree that God needs to be the center of a relationship between a man and a woman. With Him all things are possible!

  5. Carlos-977696 July 8, 2013

    I agree with Mark and Jan, there is just too much shallowness and pickiness. I’ve been turned down because I’m not super athletic, outgoing, because I’m younger than the women I write to, because I like science fiction and therefore I must be a nerd, because I’m in the environmental field and therefore am “hippie”. It all comes to this: those who invented the so called rules of engagement are the one who hold the cards and they do everthing in their power to hold to them so they don’t lose the statusquo.

    • Donna-982010 July 13, 2013

      Whoa, you’re a hippie? I’ve gotta check out your profile, Carlos. I’ve been to hippie camp myself. I wonder why you didn’t come up in my search.

  6. John-221057 July 8, 2013

    Placing importance on physical attraction is not superficial or fickle, it’s human nature. The tendency to be attracted to some people but not others is just part of our physical design I completely disagree with that last paragraph. And I’ll be honest. If I don’t like what I see in the picture (or if there is no picture), I don’t even bother reading the rest of the profile because i know right away that I will never be able to love this person. Is physical attraction everything? Not at all, I’m not saying this.

    But I think the writer of this article underestimates the importance of physical attraction.

    • Karen-523566 July 9, 2013

      John, I agree with your statement. There are too many overweight individuals who do not exercise or appreciate the grooming process. I too look at the pictures but also read the first caption. If they are unattractive and offer nothing insightful in the caption…there is absolutely no stimulus to pursue. It is important to have every level of chemistry. Sense of humor, work ethic, faith, sense of adventure and personal growth are all equally important. It is judgmental and critical to think we are not creatures with animal instinct to mate and be sexually attracted to physical appearances….

      • Bernard-568827 July 10, 2013

        How do you know everything about a person based on what is simply written in a few paragraphs? Also, are we simply animals without souls or reason? Or do we have souls, reason; perhaps even charity and kindness…with which we might somehow realize that God doesn’t make garbage…or does he?

  7. Emily-902118 July 9, 2013

    John I believe that you are taking her last paragraph out of context. I can’t tell you how many married couples I’ve talked to who said, “at the beginning I thought I would never be physically attracted to this woman/man” Now 1, 2, or 3 years later they are completely in love and of course are physically attracted to each-other. All the writer is saying is, ‘give someone a chance.’ She’s not saying buy the engagement ring and hope for the best.

  8. Dave-868059 July 9, 2013

    Lovely post! Emily, I couldn’t agree more with your excellent insight. We simply can’t afford to be that superficial as Catholic Christians. I totally agree that physical attraction is important yet all the same, so many happily married couples explain that they never would have picked their particular spouse(s) based on looks although they’re completely attracted to them now after years of marriage. The converse is that many disastrous relationships which were founded on physical attraction and end in all sorts of mayhem and ultimately, in the case of marriage, bitter divorces! i believe we all need to lighten up a tad and at least respond to each other and even build rapport then see where it goes and where God leads us. Aren’t we supposed to be praying for His leading as we proceed anyway?
    I’m certain the result would then be many cherished friendships that otherwise may never have been and for some,perhaps most, finding that special mate with whom to share a tremendously happy Catholic life.
    As far as arranged marriage goes, there are many more cultural imperatives which keep such arrangements together. While many couples do learn to ‘love’ each other within these confines, sadly, I’ve heard of too many intolerable and abusive situations within that realm. Many are forced to suffer in silence in order to please their parents and extended families.

  9. Kwaku-654846 July 9, 2013

    I agree with Point 2 and 3, but not entirely with Point 1. “Feeling something” matters. Yes, maybe we don’t have to be completely swept off our feet, but there must be that something extra.

    I’ll add Point 4. Just because arranged marriage rarely end in divorce doesn’t necessarily mean they are almost always “happy”. Arranged marriages tend to be prevalent in cultures where divorce is near-taboo or frowned upon…..and, often, where romantic satisfaction is not a priority. If the couple provide a good (financially and morally) home for the kids and like each other (in a brotherly/friendly sense), the marriage is a success….really being in love – I don’t mean mere infatuation – is a nice-to-have and not a priority.
    This is the real reason why arranged marriages last. As Dave said, while they rarely end in divorce, they are often not happy.

    Point 3: ‘So many people equate the wedding day as everything has led to this point and now it’s simply “happily ever after.” ‘
    Seriously, are there any people over age 25 who think this way?

  10. Melinda-661042 July 9, 2013

    I agree with Mark and Jan. While we should be attracted, what attracts may be different for everyone. Unfortunately, I’ve been told more than once I look 18-20. I’m 36. To make matters worse, most of my friends–the people I relate to the best and get along with are in their 40′s and 50′s. I don’t have a problem with a 15-20 yr age difference, but some people get totally hung up on “she has to be 30 and have blond hair and be a size 6″. I think that’s the mentality the article is referring to, not the attitude of “it would be nice to find someone that’s 5 yrs age difference, but I’m open because it’s God’s plan not mine”

    So far, the 3 single men I have met in church have been total tossers. Self-absorbed dressed in “I am being humble”, uncaring and hurtful and very superficial and afraid of a little kindness and compassion–after all if I notice you’re missing from Mass and ask if you’re ok I must be after you. Get over yourself. But they go to Church and Adoration, so they must be good! Makes me want to scratch “christian” off the “I’d like him to be” list.

    I know love isn’t all how it feels—but at the same time, it does feel and it has to. If you don’t have some spark of the good desire, why bother? I’m not going with someone that feels like my brother. There’s the kind of love you feel for friends, for family, and for the one. It does feel different and it does feel like something. It might be slow, and it’s certainly not the same feeling as lust. I think too many get confused and think there’s supposed to be NO desire instead of there’s supposed to be the right kind of desire.

    I’ve never had a date. I have been involved in a lot of activities. I wouldn’t want someone that is superficial. I’m not skinny, I am a woman with a figure not a twiggy doll. I have a lot to give, but if the man cannot give up his list of must be’s and look at the person inside, I don’t want him to start with. What God has in store for us might be different than what our plan is and that require openness. Maybe he just did high school and I have a Masters, maybe he lives in another state or country….that’s ok, I’m open to what God sends me, even if he is blond and I tend to like dark hair.

  11. Jennifer-116756 July 9, 2013

    I REALLY needed to read this. Thank you!

  12. Paula-943738 July 9, 2013

    I’m a widow now, but meeting my husband was a surprise experience that I feel does fit the category of giving a person a chance. It really wasn’t his looks that first attracted me, but rather his voice and way of speaking to me that did it. That’s why I question the online way of meeting people at this point I guess. There is so much layered information we need to have about a person before saying “yes” or “no” to the experience of getting to know them better! I am all for giving a person a chance though. I could only wish that more people on the other end of this “game” would feel the same way. I wonder what prevents people from replying to a comment or invitation? So much patience is needed to stay positive in the search.

  13. Lisa-933589 July 9, 2013

    Lisa,

    Thank you for the three valid points…I would like to add that the statistics for divorce go way down also when both husband & wife and are practicing the faith/part of church community.
    I don’t have the exact statistics, but we are blessed and don’t necessarily have to have arranged marriage—practicing our Catholic faith in fullness is a great defense against divorce and blessing towards successful, lasting marriages.

    Lisa

  14. Michael-780154 July 9, 2013

    Oh, what a refreshing read! I really (dare I use the word?) LOVE this blog entry!! So many great comments, too!

    I’m all smiley now. :-)

    Michael

  15. John-874918 July 9, 2013

    Nice article. I agree that inner beauty is as important as outer beauty. I also agree that indoor plumbing is a necessity. I could not imagine using an Eighteenth-Century “Outhouse!” :-)

  16. Richard-875877 July 9, 2013

    ya its kinda tough, dont want to be seen to be passing judgement, but i thought this site would be different. I write to some people and no reply, not really sure what there looking for, but it can be disheartening, not even to get any kind of chance really. i wonder what god would say here lol.
    anyway have a nice day everyone. and sure hope all the dreams come true. god bless.

  17. Wen-987739 July 9, 2013

    hi everyone, as I am new to this, just joined a couple of days ago, I sent friendly greetings to people (strangers) here, women/men, having a goal of gaining friends regardless of differences in age, locations, nationalities etc. unfortunately, the first message I receive is negative- it goes like this- ‘it will be futile to communicate with you because we are in different locations’. thanks anyway for your message :-/ ..

  18. Lynea-297530 July 10, 2013

    Sorry, but this was a strange article. I’m sorry, but it starts off saying that too many people are “plugged” in — perhaps we shouldn’t be on CM? Anyway, the main reason arranged marriages work is because of two reasons that were not even mentioned:
    1.) The families already know of each other — everything from much of their dirty laundry to their known virtues. It gives each potential spouse less of a chance for surprises when you can’t be fooled into marrying someone who is a known philanderer. Also, in these types of cultures, whether by their state in society or by their cultural mores, people who have serious commitment issues are easily discovered and have a much less chance of having their practices hidden, not merely because of familial pressure, but because it becomes the moral norm. It’s like a game of Jenga, and if you’re the putz, you’re also the weakest link to the family status and peace.

    2.) These arrangements tend to be of known families, and therefore, tend to have the SAME values. Quickly your friends will even set you straight if you are in the slightest way bucking the cultural norms in such society. Freedom, then, is more true liberty, as true freedom is the right to choose the GOOD, not to chose either good or evil.

  19. Lynea-297530 July 10, 2013

    Wen,
    I just noticed your response as I was clicking off this page.
    That response may just be a matter of being practical: If the person is serious about seeing courtship with the intention of timely marriage, he may not wish to apply his time and energy courting someone who isn’t available for him to get to know on that level (outside of the virtual realm).

    On the flip side, there are many different parts of the world, even regions within a single country, where values and cultural norms can differ to such a degree that you wouldn’t even consider being courted by men from certain regions, or at least, it would give you pause for greater discernment. That is not to say that God’s grace doesn’t reach the darkest regions most devoid of virtue, because He most certain demonstrates that frequently, however, those the exceptions to the cultural norms. Many times it is easy to be fooled into thinking someone pious, for instance, when in reality their spirituality is something that is mainly external, with very little compunction for spiritual progress or things like firm purpose of amendment (although, it is a requirement for any Confession to be valid) and along with that, the avoidance of any unnecessary near occasion of sin.

  20. Kevin-975826 July 10, 2013

    As I read these comments and wonder what the real underlined problem is. FEAR! Fear of change, fear of taking a chance on someone, fear this person will not measure up to your criteria, just plain old Fear!
    I am new to CM after the recent loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I am not thin by any means, but I am very healthy and see my doctor twice a year..
    In my job line, both men and women are required to be able carry heavy metal (cast iron) over a 100lbs, up to 10,000 ft if needed, or lift your baggage on the walk way of a locomotive. The point I am making, not everybody can look and be the same. I have actually watch people that work out with weights often, cannot even do half of what I can do and I also have work injuries to tend with on a daily basis. ( sorry minor sidetrack) Any ways If the less FEAR and less ANGRY BIRDS in the world and this web site I believe everybody would happier and satisfied.

    • Theresa-988699 July 10, 2013

      I agree with you, the body must posess some attributes that initially bring two people to a point where they meet. After that becoming familiar with someone also reveals many attributes a person could have missed if not open to the whole person and not just a hairstyle or a certain body style. Learning someone’s values and daily concerns are much like you own gives a person a sense of commonality. All people want to and do belong with someone and someplace.

    • Emily-929054 July 15, 2013

      So very true..and I might add, the fear of being rejected.

  21. Theresa-988699 July 10, 2013

    I would love to find true love and dedication. I am very willing and able to deliver the same.

  22. Billy-88650 July 10, 2013

    wow, awesome article. You hit the problem young adults (I think) wade in, head on.

    • Billy-88650 July 10, 2013

      Marriage is a means to holiness. We should not be so hesitant, especially distracted by superficialities (“I just don’t feel it”), to enter into it.

      • Bernard-568827 July 10, 2013

        I absolutely agree,

      • Bernadette-973539 July 13, 2013

        Well….I agree if you mean that one shouldn’t refrain from getting to know someone better because “I just don’t feel it”….but, if one were actually at the point of contemplating marriage, I think “not feeling it” it is a pretty valid consideration, eh?

  23. Carlos-977696 July 10, 2013

    Also the author is married?!? What worked for him doesn’t need to work for the others. I’m just saying.

  24. Bernard-568827 July 10, 2013

    Just wanted to say I love this story. That said, realizing that many absolutely hate this story…sadly, in my view.

  25. Henny-956284 July 10, 2013

    Lisa, Thanks for being an inspiration! I really get the feel of your writings…

  26. Thomas-942732 July 11, 2013

    I agree alot with the giving the “not your type” a try idea. I have done this myself, In realizing our life is not our own it is important to be more focused on who does Christ have in mind as opposed to strictly our own romantic fantasy.

  27. Ed-501357 July 12, 2013

    Given the amount of superficialty out there in the dating world these days, this would be great argument for arranged marriages as one does not have to put up with the “game playing” that quite often happens. You would start out as friends without the stress of will she/he call me for a second date and instead learn, understand, and grow with the other person. Having said this, in today’s world it would only work with the mutual understanding of the parties involved and perhaps the best way would be to ask your parents (assuming a strong relationship) to see who amongst their social circle if they have any single sons or daughters and perhaps an introduction could be arranged. This would obviously work best with our younger members of the site.

    Mind you my last long term relationship was with a friend of my sister. However after a few years we found that aside from some activities of mutual interest, our outlooks were not the same so this is no guarantee but one should at least be open to this option because you never know.

    On the subject of pictures on the profiles, I don’t necessarily go for knockout good looks.
    As mentioned on an earlier post, if I see that she takes care of herself and looks interested in life in general, that would pique my interest as well.

    I find as you get older, (I’m in my mid fifties) you have a better idea of the kind of person that you’re seeking based on people that you meet in life be it through work, church, social activities etc and can identify certain traits that you would want in a partner. In other words, in my case at least, I have a very good idea of what I want.

  28. May-558443 July 14, 2013

    Great article, Lisa. I especially like the reminder of allowing possibilities to enter :-)

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