By Katja Pitcher
This question we all ask ourselves at some point in a serious relationship might seem impossible to answer.
How do you know when you meet the right person? How do you decide if you can spend the rest of your life with the person you’re dating or even engaged to? How do you discern if marrying this person is what God is calling you to? These questions might be plaguing you and you’re just trying to find a clear answer. I hope that my journey through those difficult questions can give you some insight on how to discern whom you should marry.
A little about me and my husband, Tony. We met at World Youth Day in Poland in 2016. We were both part of the same group of about 100 college age students from Wisconsin going on this trip. When he first started talking to me he said I was pretty standoffish towards him but that’s because I thought he was a bit of a player. He’s a very social guy and a true gentleman who can make friends with anybody. So naturally when I saw him talking to EVERYBODY (including all the girls) I thought it best to guard my heart and not really get involved. Throughout the trip we talked here and there but were never more than just acquaintances. World Youth Day was an amazing experience and we both came back home with so many memories.
Once back in Wisconsin we texted here and there but just to keep in touch. He lived about an hour and a half away from me so there really wasn’t any chance we’d run into each other. We both started dating other people and eventually broke those relationships off. It wasn’t until a year after we returned from Europe that we met up in person again. Tony had won two tickets on the radio to an art museum in his area and he invited me to join him. At that time we were both extremely happy in our single lives when we reconnected to “catch up.” At least that’s what we both thought it was going to be until the end of that day when we knew it was going to be more than a friendship. In that first day of spending time with Tony after a year, I saw so many characteristics in him that I knew I also wanted in my future spouse. We started the day off with Mass, had lunch and played cards with his family, went to the art museum, went on a bike ride, enjoyed a delicious dinner with some of his friends and finished the night off with slow dancing to oldies music. In that one day I saw his love for his faith, family, and friends. I saw his goofy side when we made jokes in the art museum. I saw his life loving side when we simply biked through a few neighborhoods on a warm summer afternoon. I saw his competitive side when we played corn hole with his friends. I saw his romantic and gentleman like side when we slowed danced that evening. Throughout the whole day he anticipated my needs, cared for those around him (not only me but also the elderly ladies he opened the door for), and was open and genuine in our conversations. Driving back from our visit, I couldn’t help but know in my heart that this was a man I could see myself marrying.
On our next visit a week later we decided to start officially dating. We saw each other a few times over the next two weeks until Tony moved to Utah for a job opportunity. We dated long distance for about 5 months until he proposed to me on his visit home for Christmas. Throughout our long distance relationship we made prayer a priority. We committed to praying the rosary together daily. Both Tony and I strived to go to Mass as often as possible and keep Jesus at the center of our lives and our relationship. A couple months after Tony proposed I moved out to Utah and found a job out there. Although many people think that cohabitation is a good idea for financial reasons or just “get to know” the person you’re marrying, Tony and I knew it would lead to unnecessary temptation and it’s also against Catholic Church teaching. I’m not saying we are perfect. Like most couples we struggled with purity, but we still made it a priority to go to Mass and confession together and to fight against sin. Not living together also helped us make better boundaries and keep a healthy amount of distance between us when needed. Our engagement was filled with lots of adventures in Utah from camping with friends, to hiking, to festivals and fun events in our area, to sports and all kinds of activities. We stayed busy with all of that on top of wedding planning. Then a little over a year after we started dating, we were married! We are now a year into marriage and expecting our first child.
So what can you learn from my story? I hope to share with you a few things that helped make it clear to me that Tony was the man I was meant to marry. First, I mentioned that Tony and I were happy in our single lives when we started dating. We weren’t necessarily looking for a relationship or felt like we needed to be in one. We trusted in the Lord’s plan and His timing. I really believe that gave us a headstart in our relationship because we were confident in who we were as individuals. A quote I really like from a well known Catholic speaker hits this point home. “Become the Man/Woman of your dreams, and you’ll attract the Woman/Man of your dreams.” (Sarah Swafford) The habits you form as a single person, whether good or bad, follow you into your relationship and eventually your marriage so it’s important to work on becoming the best version of yourself before entering into a relationship.
Another aspect of our discernment process was prayer and our shared faith. Like I brought up earlier, we prayed together daily, went to Mass and confession regularly, and kept our faith in the center of our decisions. The grace we received from praying the rosary together was vital but we also grew in our understanding of the commitment and sacrifice required in marriage. As a couple discerning marriage it is so crucial to be actively praying, together and separately. Something else that really stood out to me about Tony was that he wasn’t afraid or ashamed of his Catholic faith. He went to Mass every Sunday and tried to go throughout the week as well. He went to confession, adoration, was involved with a Catholic men’s group, and didn’t shy away from bringing up that he was Catholic in any conversation he had. I knew those were qualities I was looking for in a husband.
Lastly, as I explained above I knew pretty much after our first day of spending time together that this was the man I wanted to marry. You’ve probably heard married couples say something along the lines of, “when you know, you know.” Although it is a bit of a cliché, I think that phrase actually holds some truth. I was in relationships where all I could think about was how much “potential” I saw in the person I was dating and if only they were able to change a few things about themselves then they would be perfect! If you’re in a relationship right now and you’re struggling with this idea of, “if only he/she would change this or be more like this then I could see myself marrying them,” you’re going to have that same struggle throughout your marriage as well. That person is not going to change for you and you shouldn’t want them to. It has to be their decision to change for themselves. The truth I was talking about in that phrase is when it’s so immediately apparent that you could marry someone, there really isn’t they need to change about themselves. You just know that they have the qualities you’re searching for. I’m not saying all relationships are like that or that ones that aren’t are subpar for some reason. That’s not true at all. I just know this is a common battle people have with themselves and their significant other. Proverbs says, “Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Now if one of you is iron and the other is another kind of metal, you’ll have a hard time working together to become the best versions of yourselves. You need someone who is on an even playing field as you so you can help each other to change for the better, yes, but not to the extreme that you can’t live with that person unless they change a certain thing about themselves. That’s why it’s so key not settle for less. Stick to your standards.
In conclusion, I would say trust in the Lord. He knows your heart and what you need better than you do. Stay close to Him and He will guide you to the right person. Be patient. When dating someone don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, break it off if need be, and stand up for what you believe in. Marriage is hard work. It requires two people willing to sacrifice for each other and choose the good of the other every single day. Marry someone who is going to lead you and your family to heaven- that is our ultimate goal.
Peace & Blessings,
A couple helpful resources: