1

Are We Getting Married Too Soon?

Dear Anthony,

My pastor is skeptical that long distance relationships can have the personal and practical growth to move toward marriage. My fiance lives in California, and I’m in Canada. He first wrote me on AMS nine months ago. We met the first time two months ago. A month ago I flew to California for our second in person meeting. He proposed. I flew home to pray about it and a few days later said yes. We believe we have the maturity, love, and shared spiritual life to begin marriage. We would like to cooperate with our pastor, however, it does seem that Father already has some preconceived ideas about long distance dating. Do you have any advice we can share with him?

It’s obviously you are both deeply in love and want to share your life together. But I can certainly see why your pastor has concerns.

Only the two of you can make this decision. Not even your pastor’s concerns can stop either of you from your fundamental right to be married if you so choose. I, too, certainly have no way of knowing if this is what you should or shouldn’t do, nor advise you either way. It is your decision, and whatever decision you make should be supported by anyone in your life who loves you, and will definitely be accepted by the Church under the permissible canonical conditions which I assume are in place (i.e., both free to marry in the Church, both baptized, etc.)

Your pastor’s concerns, I believe, are not so much your long distance relationship, but the short length of time knowing each other and only meeting twice.

I’m sure for the two of you, the nine months you have known each other seem like a lifetime. No one can fully understand how two people can have such deep love and commitment in such a short time. It’s natural for others observing from the outside to consider factors of the situation and be skeptical. They have no connection or participation in your mutual love experience, so it’s impossible for them to know the full story.

However, their opinions regarding the facts are worth hearing out and considering, because it’s not uncommon that the love that develops so rapidly clouds and blinds prudence and reason. So having an open mind to what those you love or respect have to say from their observations and experiences is a good practice.

There are a few points I would like to share with you as food for thought that perhaps you have not considered and might find helpful as you continue toward your intention to marry.

The length of time you have known each other is a serious concern. No matter how much you know each other right now, it’s not as much as you think when it comes to a decision to marry. Sharing things about each other is not enough. Experiencing each other in person in all kinds of situations and with all kinds of other people provides a great deal of important information to know about the other.

Many common marriage problems are due to behaviors and attitudes: how you both react in uncomfortable situations or under stress, how both of you behave around or treat each other’s family and friends, seeing what gets both of you upset or how you work through an argument, what issues of your past come up and under what circumstances, and how you communicate with each other and work together to resolve problems or make important and not so important decisions.

Then there is non-verbal communication, which is what makes up the majority of how we communicate with other human beings. It’s impossible to experience body language without being together in person. Therefore, it’s impossible to know how you react to each other’s body language.

Responding to the call of love and deciding to marry must include an acceptance of anything negative about each other, including all bad habits, personal scars, behavior patterns, etc. You can’t fully know what these are unless you experience them first hand and share them as they come up. And when shared, there is nothing that can replace eye contact and hand holding and the like when it comes to accepting.

My concern is that the two of you have not had enough in-person time to experience so much of each other that needs to be experienced before deciding to marry. Have you spent enough time with each other’s friends and family? Have you determined that you both accept each other’s friends and have shown you are not jealous or possessive? Whoever is doing the moving to the other’s country, have you had enough time to help the family members process that?

Only the two of you can answer this, of course. If you are ready and fully accept each other, then wonderful! Let no one’s concerns, including your pastor’s, prevent you from moving forward.

However, long distance relationships are very challenging. You want to make sure you know what you are doing as far as possible. Another three or six months of getting together in person can only help.

I would suggest you consider telling your pastor you will make a short term commitment to spend more in-person time together before getting engaged, then meet with him several times together. He will feel a lot better and be impressed that you would make such an effort.


Anthony Buono is the author of Would You Date You? and founder of Avemariasingles.com. For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice.  Visit his blog at 6stonejars.com


  • Matthew Tan Kim Huat

    Dear Lady on yr question to Anthony, God bless! I am a 68 yrs old Singaporean Catholic baptised in mid-1960s. Soon I courted my girl-friend. Even as busy as I was as a manager of a newly setup Swiss factory, I endeavored to visit her almost daily. We had our sharings of thoughts, news, home, families, and a number of bad quarrels on certain rights and obligations and work issues, etc. When we decided to get married, we believed that we must be armed with knowledge of finance, budget, investment of time and assets, children’s education, communication, psychology, marital sex and intimacy, etc. So we participated in a six-month long weekly Marriage Preparation course. We had our marriages ups and downs as the children arrived; so we took time to attend a 3-day Marriage Enrichment retreat to strengthen our marriage. Twice my wife left home in anger over my decisions: once 22 yrs ago when I wanted to re-employ our tool-maker to make specialised machinery for my company and he was known to have stolen some expensive tools for selling in the thieves’ market. So when I employed him, my wife left for more than 2 weeks; I too didn’t like her to interfere into my corporate decision and could have abandon her. Bcos of my very strong participation with the Charismatic Renewal Prayer group leaders, they assisted me to re-court my wife again and to reconcile. 3-1/2 yrs ago, when I came back from Nigeria where I was nearly heavily scammed by Pentecostal bishop, pastors, evangelists, prophets, my wife could not trust any Nigerians. However, I had invited a Catholic tribal prince and a Anglican pastor to visit Singapore and stay in my home. She was so angry bcos she was left out of consultation but I was staying as a guest in their homes. So she left home again refusing to be around when the two Nigerian guests came to stay in our home. On their last day of their 3 weeks’ visits, my wife then reluctantly joined us for farewell dinner. Later that nite, we reconciled again.

    Why do I recount these marriage difficult situations? In every good Catholic marriages, silence or absence of quarrels is very dangerous. It is good to have disagreements and decision to respect one another’s differences as after all man and woman have different hormonal and emotional make-ups. The point is reconciliation bcos of our Pledge that in our Sacrament of Marriage, we invited God to be our Covenantal Father. If one spouse is not faithful and not having personal relationship with God, marriage can easily be asundered. Marriage is not a game of liking of disliking toys. Throw away toys when we have no longer any interest. If we ensure that when our marital problems arise and together bring them before the Lord, I am very certain all valleys and mountains, all sharp edges and barriers will be levelled. Let Jesus Christ carry us each day and each step and our marriage will be enriched despite all situations.

    I personally think ten times longer before entering into life marriage commitment.