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“Ask a Priest: What If I’m Aching for Marriage?”
Q: How do I let go of this aching desire for marriage? I know it won’t fulfill me, but when I’m at Mass, and I see couples and beautiful big families — my concentration is pulled away from Jesus. And all I think about is how forgettable and unlovable I am. How I’ll always be alone, and I lose focus on the blessings God has given me and focus on others’ blessings. – J.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It’s understandable that you would like to be married. Being human, we all have a need to love and to feel loved, in one way or another.
First off, you need to confront the lie that you have told yourself – that you are forgettable and unlovable. Not true! God created you out of love and holds you in existence at every moment. He never forgets you.
You mention that your concentration has been pulled away from Jesus, and then you think of how unlovable you are.
Maybe it would help to get your attention back on Jesus. Meditate a bit on the crucifix, and remind yourself of the suffering that Our Lord underwent for the love of you. For the Son of God to be willing to die for you is a sign that you are indeed loved.
Of course, humans are a unity of body and soul, and God made us male and female (Genesis 1:27) with an eye toward marriage and procreation.
Marriage is an icon of the love between the Three Persons of the Trinity; as such it is at best a faint reflection of the love that would await us in heaven. I mention all of this to put your question in a wider context.
But what about practical steps in your case?
First, it might be good to recall the words of a sage: People who want to be happily married should strive to be happy before they get married.
People who aren’t basically happy now, shouldn’t expect marriage to fix their problems. Problems, in fact, can become more pronounced after marriage, since it is a demanding life.
And this comes back to your tendency to get down on yourself. That quality won’t likely lead you into a happy marriage.
Try to see yourself as Jesus sees you: a beloved daughter of God. And if you hope for a loving marriage, focus on being a loving person. In practice that could mean dedicating yourself to volunteer work, such as pro-life ministry, door-to-door missions, outreach to women’s shelters, or catechesis of some kind.
You will quickly find opportunities to love and help others — and to put your own struggles in perspective.
As you are generous with others, you will find others who love you in return. That can boost your confidence, put you in contact with more people (including eligible men, perhaps), and make it easier for people to see your good qualities.
The best marriages are often built on strong friendships within a network of companions and family members. So, try to network with others.
In any case, the volunteer work (as well as a solid prayer life and sacramental life) will ensure that you don’t leave your life on hold, waiting for Mr. Right to appear. Life is unpredictable; it helps to live in the moment.
It might be helpful to read Saint Francis de Sales’ Treatise on the Love of God.
In the meantime, stay focused on Jesus, the man who will never leave you. And learn to count the blessings you already have – all signs of God’s love here and now.
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