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Dating & Relationships

I have been writing a series of blog posts titled, “The Pathway to Love,” discussing how to navigate the relationship pathway when discerning marriage.

My first post dealt with self-esteem and loving yourself.  My next post had to do with truth as a core foundation of love. Then, in Stage 1 on the Pathway, we looked at the power and beauty of attraction along with some of the pitfalls. We have also examined dating, discerning marriage and the importance of not rushing our relationships.

Now we arrive at Stage 2: “Love as Desire.” Desire is another aspect of love. We are not talking about the sexual urge of desire, but the true desire for another person in relationship. This is the desire to be a complete and whole human being.

I once heard that Adam was created a whole person, both male and female, but when Eve was taken from his side, they became two different sexes. Now both sexes are continually seeking to find completeness. They are looking to become the whole person God is calling them to be.

That is why, in a special way, we seek companionship and marriage. We see a person of the opposite sex as a “good” for ourselves, says Pope John Paul II, in his book Love and Responsibility, and we seek to enter into a deeper relationship with that person.

Perhaps this is why people say that “opposites attract.” It is common for us to desire those qualities that we do not possess in order to seek fullness.

I know my strengths have helped my wife in areas she needed to grow, and her strengths and virtues have also aided me to become a better person. We grow together and we can learn from each other. This complementarity is something wonderful.

While opposites sometimes attract, they can also attract for the wrong reasons! Take an overly shy woman who has great trouble being assertive. Then along comes a strong, assertive, take-charge man who suddenly looks very appealing to her. Instead of overcoming her struggles and learning to speak up for herself (for example, to her boss and landlord who are taking advantage of her), she may desire to have her assertive boyfriend speak on her behalf.

It may seem like a good match originally, but by being dependent, she will never grow, learn to communicate, be assertive, or stand up for herself. Thus, she will remain stunted as a person. Yes, she desires a boyfriend, but for the wrong reasons. We must be very careful with doctor/patient relationships like this.

We must beware of the counterfeit: codependency. Some people believe that marriage will solve their loneliness issues or will bring meaning to their seemingly boring meaningless lives.

However, only God can truly make us happy, fill our hearts, and make our lives complete! It would be a mistake to replace God with a human being. This expectation will always fail and end in disillusionment. We need to walk and grow side by side with our life partner and not be desperately dependent on them or overly needy.

There is a difference between learning from each other’s strengths and growing together, and then becoming dependent on another person—or visa versa. We need to become our own full person, a person fully alive, the whole person God has called us to be! So, that even if we remained single for our whole life, we would still be working to better ourselves daily.

It is important to find healthy individuals who are their own person first, and who can stand on their own two feet. They are already working on their own problems, vices, and shortcomings, and are making progress.

For example, if they aren’t good at communication or showing affection, they don’t make excuses for it, they work toward fixing the problem. The same goes for us too.

After all, marriage is a lifelong endeavor of helping each other get to heaven and become better people. Therefore, it is so important to find someone who shares the same morals, values, standards, and desires for your faith that you do.

Not only do they share them, but they are actively working toward them in their own lives.

Two healthy people who share a common vision and who grow and learn together will help to make a lasting marriage.

It will also make the journey to heaven more beautiful and enjoyable.

(This post has been read 6,101 times)

23 Comments

  1. Brian-987904 July 29, 2013

    Great article.

  2. Myriam-344031 July 29, 2013

    Good,short, precise article, very helpful.
    Thank you.

  3. Lisa-801067 July 29, 2013

    This sounds great but that is where it stops . It’s a catholic version of pop psychology and Joel Osteen be a better you, first. Yes is it important to be healthy emotionally that will help your marriage survive but we need to remember that when God made Adam he said it was not good for him to be alone. He did not say “Ok Adam get comfortable with yourself be the best man you can be and then i will make you a mate “. Just my thoughts. Our culture is saturated with the get well feel good be the best you can be message through media and the huge self help sections your can find at any book retailer. Healthy is ok but when it is pushed it adds to the picture of the already perfect person image that we already carry and we may miss out on good people in search of the more “well adjusted” you get the idea.

    • Graeme-379437 July 30, 2013

      Great points, Lisa. I was thinking similarly as I read the post. Thanks.

    • Megan-987453 July 30, 2013

      I am not familiar with the book that was referenced, but I do think it is worth waiting for a spouse who is equally yoked. That being said, we should (in all things) be open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. He brings some couples together early in life and some later in life. If we remain close with the Lord in prayer, we won’t “miss out” on an opportunity when He presents it. Also, when God created Eve, original sin had not been introduced into the world yet, so Adam had no need to “work” on himself :)

    • Daniel-860051 July 30, 2013

      My thoughts exactly, Lisa. Mr. Mercier seems to be pushing both the secular culture’s pop psychology and the Catholic teaching that a man and a woman are become one flesh to, among other reasons, help the other get to heaven. If I’m the “whole person God called me to be” why do I need a woman’s help with anything?

      On the other hand, I do believe good psychological health is required to be in for a healthy relationship. Mr. Mercier is right to point out the risks of losing oneself in a strong personality or becoming co-dependent. Those are serious risks and do not make for healthy relationships. But let’s not create some unattainable standard of perfect psychological “health” before one takes the steps of committing to a future spouse.

    • Lura-977118 August 1, 2013

      Amen sista!

  4. Marie-358484 July 30, 2013

    Ugg! Some of the loneliest people i know are married, so marriage will not fix that issue! If we can be unselfish enough to remember that our Guardian Angel is always with us, as well as the Holy Spirit, we cannot ever be lonely. Perhaps i’ve just collected enough pets (by working in animal rescue with parrots and feral cats), but my in-home flock of parrots, 3 cats, and dog are enough to ensure that anytime i’m home and get a chance to sit down, my lap is full and my feet are warm, plus i never get to sleep alone even when it’s hot! My guess is, that even if i hadn’t taken in so many, i still wouldn’t have time to get lonely since there’s always so much to do and get done! Doesn’t loneliness lie in the same court as boredom? Who has time for that? With daily prayer, work, school (even without since there is always something of interest to research or study), house cleaning, laundry, feeding of myself, friends and/or family who show up, and animals, i’ve never had time to be bored, lonely, get into trouble, etc . . .

    • Graeme-379437 July 30, 2013

      Then you are blessed. It isn’t that we don’t have enough to do. My loneliest moments are when I arrive home later at night and there is no one there to greet me, hug me, kiss me, or briefly share my day with. These are just moments, not necessarily hours. These moments, although brief, are quite painful.

      • Katy-14937 August 2, 2013

        I know exactly what you’re saying. It’s very painful. Maybe this is God’s way of trying to draw us closer to him. When we feel that loneliness and want to be with that special love (hopefully still out there) God wants us to be fall deeper in love with Him and allow us to know His love for us.
        This is what I try to think about when I’m overcome with loneliness and tired of being single. God bless.

      • MyoneeConchita-67465 September 16, 2013

        I can relate to what you are saying Graeme.
        It was just now that i saw this article. And it gave a pinch in my heart.
        It has been a while now that i have been praying for a very personal intention. Something that has not been granted yet until now. And even if i do not want to be skeptical about myself or my fate, still some circumstances make me think that there really is something missing still.

        Oh well.

        But then again like you, i only most of the times have “moments” of loneliness. At times. I cry it oit. Then im refreshed and good to go and face life again.
        And i rhank God and my guardian angels for that. :)

  5. Jobina-985883 July 30, 2013

    This is inspiring well explained thanks for sharing

  6. Brandon D. July 30, 2013

    @Graeme- I agree, those small moments mean a lot to me also. Life is so much more enjoyable when sharing great moments with people you love.

  7. Steve-174204 July 30, 2013

    I have to agree with Lisa. On the human level I am lonely. Loneliness can motivate all kinds of stupid behaviour. To simply say that God is the source of all happiness is far too simplistic. We live on earth. We are human, and as Lisa said ” it is not good for man to be alone”. God made us this way and stated very clearly that it is not good to be alone. I have seen lonely people whom have then met there future partner. They were transformed. We live in a dirty world. Nothing is simple. Yes I believe that we are supposed to help our marriage partners find their path to God. However, it must be done with love, patience, kindness, etc…. We all carry baggage. I think it’s best to have someone in your life who is aware of ther baggage, working on it, yet in the meantime a loving person. I know all love comes from God but I love it when it’s delivered through a hug, a kiss, or that look you receive from your partner that means that they love you. I don’t know about you but those simple things take away loneliness, reduce stress, lower blood pressure along with a host of other things which are good for us. Yes God is the source but the partner is the delivery service. So I would say that love and character are what to seek. Loneliness is God telling you that you are not meant to be alone.

  8. Tina-957508 July 30, 2013

    Thank you all for your comments…I am going through a very difficult divorce, however, am realizing I was alone all the years of my 16 year marraige. I have 2 beautiful children, for that I am grateful for the years I was “alone” with my soon to be ex…..God, prayer, family and friends is where it’s at……..

  9. Cathy L. July 30, 2013

    I agree with Graeme, it’s very lonely to not have that special person there. For the first time in our 13 year marriage my husband and I are geographically separated. For financial reasons we will be apart for the next 8 months. While I’m staying with my wonderful Mother, it’s not the same. It’s only been 3 1/2 weeks but I feel quite lonely. I am, however, taking steps to full my days. Yesterday I went to my new parish to be contacted to serve God and the community by helping in various ministries. The last few years have been difficult in my marriage due to infidelity on my husband’s part. Perhaps this time apart is a test to the committment of our marriage; my former parish priest told me not to rush into divorce until my husband and I were separated and had time to think over our love for each other, well the time has come.

  10. Mary-188515 July 31, 2013

    I think the main point the article makes is that we can’t just look to someone else to complete us other than God. That would be a terrible burden for our mate. That said, we will always or should always be working on ourselves even after marriage. Also. let’s not put down Joel Osteen! He’s a man of God with a great message. It’s called The Good News!

    • Steve-174204 July 31, 2013

      Yes I like Joel as well. It’s tough to write in this because people can be even more lonely if they have the wrong partner. I don’t like the idea of staying busy to avoid being lonely. Seems like a band aid solution.

  11. Ann-69118 July 31, 2013

    Anyone who thinks marriage is a fix all for their life or loneliness shouldn’t get married.

  12. Rosanna-564071 August 1, 2013

    What a realistic, beautiful article, truly seeped in the meaning of the dignity of the human person. I love Bl. Pope John Paul II’s work – which is, in the end, just God’s Truth broken down in simple human language, right?

  13. Rosanna-564071 August 1, 2013

    I do think Lisa and Daniel have great points however. As per Lisa’s comment: I think if one really dives into Bl. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility (its predecessor), it is evident that the spousal meaning of the body (the innate desire and need to give oneself completely to another in a covenant) is no unhealthy disease, but something healthy, innate, beautiful, and truly reflecting of the Divine (specifically, our Triune God of perfect communion). As per Daniel’s comment, I think this hits the nail on the head: “But let’s not create some unattainable standard of perfect psychological “health” before one takes the steps of committing to a future spouse.” Amen.

  14. Theresa-989320 August 4, 2013

    “After all, marriage is a lifelong endeavor of helping each other get to heaven and become better people. Therefore, it is so important to find someone who shares the same morals, values, standards, and desires for your faith that you do.” – Posted by Bryan Mercier on July 28, 2013

    Good points I bought “Love and Responsibility,” and now I need to make time to read it!

    Lisa made a good point too: “we need to remember that when God made Adam he said it was not good for him to be alone. He did not say “Ok Adam get comfortable with yourself be the best man you can be and then i will make you a mate “. ”

    I suppose I’m just a little confused though on how this article reflects pop culture….perhaps I’m just too saturated in pop culture. Still, when I read the article it sounded like Mr. Bryan Mercier was encouraging people not to become overly “co-dependent” and think that a spouse will solve their problems. He also explains in a number of ways how spouses help each other grow (and unfortunately growth often means the pain of striving: like the example Mr. Mercier gave about the woman who needs to become more assertive.)

    Now this sentence did strike me as odd “I once heard that Adam was created a whole person, both male and female, but when Eve was taken from his side, they became two different sexes” – I somehow doubt that this is theologically correct….anyone have a Catechism??? Ok, maybe I’ll look it up myself LOL
    Still this appeared to be a writers “hook” rather than a main point.

    The main point seems to be that God is the only one who can solve our loneliness and our problems while our future spouse is that special person whom we can unite with as we mutually help each other grow toward God on our way to heaven. This sentence probably sounds very educationally cold. Still the reality of a team mate, a partner, a lover, who has our best interest at heart and to whom we can entrust our all with only God as in front of them as our focus and end goal….wow! what a joyful life could be lived within this passing world, this “valley of tears.” Still the closer we get to God, the closer we get to our future spouses.

    I’ve had the joy of seeing it happen, and “I hope it happens to me!!” LOL

    Someone please explain the “pop culture” comments :)

  15. Phyllis-755042 August 13, 2013

    Greetings all, I believe that someone should mention that in The Holy Bible it is clearly written that God created Man. It never says He created a Man/Woman being and then they were divided. As the author seems to make a reference to as something he “once heard” . God created Adam one complete Man. And than from Adam’s rib God created Eve one complete Woman. I think that articles posted here on a Catholic site absolutely need to reflect true Catholic teachings and not veer off into speculation or ” I once heard” it told this way. JMJ, Phyllis

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