Hello! Please join Jen and the rest of the lovely ladies for more perspectives!
I think reflecting on ways we as singletons can prepare ourselves for marriage is a topic that dovetails nicely with last week’s[link] posts on what we love about being single. See, I’ve always found that that particular exercise encourages us to rejoice in our indulgences and celebrate choices that are focused on the self. So it’s hard for me to see most of the perks of single life as virtue-positive. I even commented on one lady’s blog that I should call myself “Desperately Seeking Sacrifice” on dating websites because I want want want to have to give up things and by self-sacrifice, grow in virtue! But how, when I am single?
Now, working where I do, I get to come across a fair share of Catholic marriage preparation materials. I have spent the better part of boring summer afternoons filling out budget sheets, taking personality quizzes, figuring out my “love language,” the whole nine yards. But while those activities may help me prepare for discussions of the practicalities during a serious relationship (because I also think most of that stuff should be figured out BEFORE the ring is on your finger and hundreds of dollars in non-refundable deposits and plane tickets are bought), I’m not sure how well they prepare my soul for marriage. So here are a few activities I am going to try to do in the spirit of gift of self and sacrifice by twisting on the things we love to do as singles.
Prep: Transform into an act of service. Yes, travel is fun and we should enjoy how cultured it makes us. During the rare times I can afford travel for fun or to see friends or family, I am going to find an opportunity to give of myself to the community or God. For example, for my first ever not-family but fun trip to San Francisco, I will give one hour of touristy time to adoration while my host is at work.
Post-Cana: My hope is that by seeing travel as a time to still maintain relationships with people and the Lord and not just to eat myself silly and fill Facebook with Instagram photos, I will recognize that those interactions don’t have to only happen while outside my city, and that when my husband and I do travel together for pleasure, we remember to put Christ and his mission in our suitcase, too.
Perk: Food and clothes and shoes and things are cheaper, so I can be a little more extravagant.
Prep: Allot part of my budget to food for a homeless shelter or adopt a family in need. Buy the extravagant baby clothes I drool over for babies and spa gift certificates for moms in a crisis pregnancy center.
Post-Cana: My hope is that by beginning to limit my budget now to give more to others and less to myself, it won’t feel as hard to give of my budget to the husband and children for their needs.
Perk: Keep my space as I like it, which need not be spic and span
Prep: Do chores with cheer and for my roommates. I hate taking out the trash; I hate more that I am the only one who seems to do so. But maybe next time I will grin and bear it. And when I come back upstairs, I’ll put away her dishes that have dried on the rack because I know she’s busy with work and school.
Post-Cana: My hope is that by performing these small works of charity within my home, I will develop an attitude that will be joyful when I need to do them for husband and children.
And there are oodles more of activities we can do, not tied to perks. Below I refer to the 7 heavenly virtues, which are said to protect against the temptations of the seven deadly sins and how small actions in our daily lives can help us grow in them—without a man or children!
Patience: Let others get on the bus first. Walk behind slow walkers. No honking at nervous new drivers. (Great practice for the toddler phase)
Chastity: I think we all know the oodles of ways single ladies can practice this! (great practice for those “Phase 2” times of the month)
Temperance: Put down the bottle of wine. Back away slowly. We (and our hips and budgets) don’t need it. (great practice for the breastfeeding cycles)
Charity: Put more money in the collection plate to “Buy Jesus a beer,” as a priest would say—and not just the bottle for $1.50 at the grocery store, but the $12 craft brew from Belgium. (Great practice for the “Can I have some money, Mom?” stage)
Diligence: Institute a “Do all the things!” [Some language NSFW] Saturday once a month. Include adoration and a Rosary. (great practice for the scocer practice shuttling years. Why is always soccer?)
Kindness: Send care packages to friends with finals or going through break-ups. (great practice for addressing life’s little boo-boos)
Humility: “Like” Facebook posts or RT tweets of a person who challenges you, but whom you know is right. (great practice for the occasion when hubby really is right)
What about you? What’s your marriage prep like?