Monday, February 23, 2009

Catholic Q & A: Ask a Question and Get a Catholic Response

From a student in class:

Q: How do you know if you can live with someone "forever" without testing it out? Shouldn't you at least try on the shoe before you buy it?
A: For the first question. That is partly what dating is for. Dating is the process we use to test, and I do mean test, another person to determine if the other person has the qualities one looks for in a spouse. What is necessary during the dating process and also when once marriage occurs is greater open communication. By having those open lines of communication during the dating process it gives both the guy and girl a better idea if they would want to live "forever" with the person they are dating. Sadly too many of us are afraid to be ourselves during the dating process. Hence, if you can't be yourself in front of the person you are dating, then it is probably a good sign you should not spend "forever" with that person. Another sure sign depends on whether or not the person you are dating is building you up or is slowing tearing you down. Is he or she helping you overcome those bad habits or is she driving you further into them? In other words, if he or she is tearing you down, then that is a tell tale sign that you probably should not spend "forever" with that person. Also, ask any married person and they will tell you that you never do fully know your spouse. That is, every person, no matter how close you come to them or how long you live with them, is always and will always be an ineffable mystery.

As for the second question. You must remember that whether dating or hanging out or just friends or even married, you are not dealing with an inanimate object like a shoe or cane. Dating and marriage is about a reciprocal relationship. You cannot have a reciprocal relationship with a shoe. People aren't things you try on or try out. What I'm saying here is to view a dating relationship as something you try on or try out is only opening the door for one person to use and then loose the other person. That is, this utilitarian view of dating only sets up one party, if not both, to be hurt. People have feelings and emotions. When was the last time your shoes cried themselves to sleep because you decided to get a new pair?

Lastly, one must always remember that love is an act of the will. It can certainly be prompted by feeling and emotions -- and often it is -- though relationships are not to be built solely on feelings and emotions. There is no feeling or emotion of commitment, a necessary element for love of any kind.

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