Get Married Young Man / Marriage / Relationships

Get Married Young Man, Part 4: What to Look for in a Wife

Our wedding

Our wedding reception

Who you marry is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It will change the course of your life, and make it can make it either a little taste of heaven, or a foretaste of hell. Who you marry will shape your future family, impacting your children and even your children’s children. Did I mention it is one of the most important decisions you will make? Trust me, you want to marry the right woman.

Marrying the right person isn’t a matter of chance, however. It helps to know what you are looking for. Here are my suggestions on the qualities to look for in a wife.

What to look for

1. Shared faith – I’ve been asked before about whether or not a Catholic should marry a non-Catholic. The short answer is that, while the Church tolerates such marriages, she never encourages them. Neither can I encourage them. It is unwise to intentionally choose to be married to someone who does not share your faith. Doing so would lead to constant tension over the most basic issues, like where you attend church, how you raise and teach your children, or moral decisions like using contraception. Not to mention the fact that it would be strange sharing a sacrament with someone who doesn’t believe marriage is a sacrament. (That said, I do realize that many, through circumstances like reversions or conversions find themselves in mixed marriages. That is a completely different issue.)

Look for someone who shares the Catholic faith. No matter how lovely a woman may be, a good marriage is built on a foundation of shared beliefs. Don’t place unnecessary obstacles in the way of a strong marriage— marry a Catholic.

2. You can talk for hours – My wife and I dated long distance, so for the vast majority of our courtship, all we could do was talk. And talk we did. We would frequently spend 5 hours or so on the phone, discussing everything from our family histories, to our desire for children, to our goals for the future.

While being separated by a thousand miles was painful at times, looking back, we are grateful for the time we spent getting to know one another in such a deep way. Marriage is not about having “fun” in the sense that it is not all dinner dates at nice restaurants, trips to the movies, or hanging out at the mall. If that’s all your dating life consists of, you’re in for a rude shock when you get married. Marriage is filled with many quiet moments of companionship, composed mostly of talking or being in each other’s presence. Loving to converse with your spouse is a key ingredient in a happy marriage.

When you are dating someone, see if you can do nothing but talk. Plan some dates conducive to conversation. If talking for any length of time seems strained and forced, that is a bad sign. But if you can talk like you’ve known each other for years, you’re on the right track.

3. She’s beautiful – Right away, I need to clarify that being attractive has nothing to do with the photoshopped models on the covers of magazines  or portrayed in the media. That is a false ideal of beauty, one that no woman can measure up to.

So what do I mean? I mean that first and foremost your future spouse should beautiful internally. She should be a graceful woman, in the most literal sense of the word. When Scripture speaks of “the beauty of holiness,” it isn’t talking about something abstract. Holiness literally makes women more beautiful and attractive (that’s why the Virgin Mary is the most beautiful woman ever created). Look for a woman with a beautiful soul that is adorned with grace. This is the kind of beauty that will never fade.

Beyond that, yes, your wife should be physically attractive to you. When I was a teen, I had a bizarre and irrational fear that God’s will was for me to marry someone I thought was ugly. I don’t know where I got that idea, but it’s not true. I am constantly amazed at how beautiful my wife is!

4. She’s modest – Modesty is a word that has many connotations, and for some, it may conjure images of Muslim woman in full body burqas. That’s not true, however. Modesty ultimately isn’t about skirt length (though that is involved), it is about a disposition of the heart. Immodesty is Miley Cyrus— raunchy, bawdy, crude, crass, and flaunting her body for the world to see. Modesty, then, is a woman who does not flaunt herself or find her worth in flashing skin. She isn’t a flirt or a seductress. She possesses the true beauty mentioned above.

5. She makes you want to be a saint – My wife makes me want to be a better man. Look for a woman who makes you want to grow up and be responsible, not someone who makes you comfortable being an adolescent for the rest of your life. In a good way, you should feel unworthy to have your wife. And then you should work hard to become worthy.

That said, don’t marry a woman who belittles you and whose only project is to change you. You want a woman who loves you for who you are, flaws and all. I’m talking about what you naturally feel when you are around her, not what she tries to make you feel.

6. She’s forgiving – Before we married, I spent months reading marriage books and studying how to be a good husband. “I’ve got this down,” I thought. “I’m going to be the best, most loving husband ever.” Then we got married. While our first few months of marriage included many wonderful moments of happiness, they also included many moments in which I revealed how selfish, prideful, and insensitive I really was. I won’t bore you with examples, but I learned a lot about myself and my fallen condition in those first few months, and so did my wife.

Our natural selfishness is something we must struggle to overcome, but it’s also why one of the keys to a good marriage is forgiveness. We are fallen and no matter how good your intentions, you will hurt your wife with your actions and words. Fortunately for me, my wife is the most forgiving woman I’ve ever met. Don’t marry a woman who holds a grudge. If you’re girlfriend never let’s you forget your mistakes, if she’s jealous and vindictive, run for the hills.

7. She loves who you love – When you marry someone, you marry their family, whether you like it or not. If you’re girlfriend hates your parents, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of tension and pain. While I won’t say that your spouse has to like your family, she should love them and respect them because you do.

Conclusion

Ultimately, finding a wife is not a matter of having a checklist and then going shopping like you would shop for a car. But you should have some idea of what you want in a woman, or you probably won’t end up with the right one. Marriages are crumbling right and left, and tragically, getting a divorce sooner or later is almost standard fare in the modern world. You don’t want that pain. Take the time to find the right woman and don’t settle.

What did I miss? What suggestions do you have?

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8 thoughts on “Get Married Young Man, Part 4: What to Look for in a Wife

  1. Very good article with excellent advice. I also was struck by point No.2, as my future wife and I would talk extensively when we were dating, actually she talked and I seldom got a work in edgewise.
    At the time I thought it was just because she was nervous and that was her way of trying to hide or handle the fact. This lack of really meaningful communication and not really getting to know each other combined with too short of a courtship (shy of a year) contributed to an eventual collapse of our marriage.
    Getting married in the middle of an economic recession didn’t help and caused frequent anxiety and stress for both of us.
    I feel that a courtship of two years to be the absolute minimum and longer is even better, you may think you know your future spouse, but did you overlook something and the reverse is equally important. Take a little longer, so you can celibate a fiftieth anniversary.
    I strongly feel that if either one of you think that if this marriage doesn’t work out I can always get a divorce, then that is exactly what will happen some time down the road when you hit a string of years what are stressful to the relationship, and every marriage has them, trust me they do. It is easy to say the words, “For Better or Worse”, it can be a lot harder to live them.
    One last thing, be aware and careful of your and also your significant others friends, have they had a divorce, abortion, do drugs, excessive alcohol, gay-lifestyle etc., these types of people can have an undesirable effect on other peoples marriages, there is total truth in the adage “Misery loves company”.

  2. I had a few relationship with problems you mentioned. After that I wanted to find a girl, who is better than me, a person with virtues what I wanted to have. Thank God I found her a few years ago and I married her a few months ago. Every man should read your post before choosing.

  3. This whole series has been great. But what is your advice for those discerning marriage and having a hard time looking for just such a woman? Things we might try that we haven’t before in terms of courting and trying to find a spouse.

    • I was going through some rough times with discernment this summer and a friend recommended this book:
      http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Courtship-An-Oversexed-World/dp/0988922207

      In a way, it really is a more in depth discussion of the points covered in this post, but what I found most helpful is that it really seems to focus on some of the more practical concerns one may have when starting to earnestly discern marriage. I say “starting” because maybe some of the points are too “basic” for someone who has experience with solid Catholic courtship. I don’t have that experience, so where I’m coming from, it was a helpful read.

  4. Pingback: What to Look for in a Wife | Franilyn A. Sendiong-Dacono

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