Many of you have asked me to explain my thoughts on courting—so here it is. I hope it helps!
When a person is dating someone, they are signaling to society that they are devoting time to getting to know a person in a profound way. When they start dating, every time they meet they have tingling in their body and a flutter in their hearts. This is a type of passionate love or of being enamored with the other: thinking all day about the other, counting the minutes until you’ll see them again, a special brightness in their eyes recognized by others… But this stage of love always passes.
This period lasts longer for some than it does for others. How beautiful and good it is to fall in love! We were created for love. Our human nature desires it. Humans are happier the more that they love, and to love means to donate—a giving of oneself without expecting anything back in return. When we begin to count what each person does for the other, we are leading ourselves astray. It’s so important to have a mutual understanding with the spouse that the home belongs to both and they must build it together with their children.
During the process of courting two people learn a lot about each other and try to understand if the same person that gives them butterflies could be the father or mother to their future children. It’s very important to listen to the opinion of our parents about this matter as well. They definitely have experience in this subject and of course they deeply love us. When a person chooses poorly, it also has a profound impact on the whole family. However, it should always be a free choice as it is ultimately the responsibility of the two involved.
I have to tell you, the courting period for my husband and I was a constant fire-drill, nothing was easy… We met in a conference in Valencia, Chema was living in Madrid and I was living in Barcelona. Every 15 days he would come by car from the Madrid to visit. It was a “beating,” as he described it, because the roads back then were not easy to drive on for 5+ hours. I had been working for a while and living with my parents still. My father wouldn’t let me go to Madrid, but one weekend when he was on a business trip, I escaped to Madrid to see Chema. All of my brothers and sisters were punished because they didn’t stop me from being disobedient… I have many anecdotes about the time we were dating, but I’ll save those for another post.
In the year after we met we started dating, broke up, got back together and started planning our wedding. Chema was 28 years old and I was 23. We had the same education based on values and serving others and we both knew exactly what we wanted: to have a family with many children.
The other day I was speaking with my sons and I asked them what kind of woman are they looking for? They surprised me with their response: “(…) and they need to make me smile.” Of course, I agree that the person that will be by my side until I die should be someone I enjoy being around: conversation, fun, the best of friends, sports together, hobbies, ideals…
It’s so important to see how the two will manage a crisis together, because these will come. There will always be difficulties and problems during a marriage. When they come, it’s an opportunity to discuss, come up with a solution and confront them together. After a crisis, if you’ve managed it well, your relationship will emerge even stronger. This is why you promise your future spouse that you will stay by their side in sickness and health, during the joys and the sorrows…
As you all know, I have faith. So of course I advise you to go through the Church to receive the sacrament of marriage—there is truly a special grace that comes along with the sacrament and stays with the couple for the entirety of their marriage.
When we speak of love towards another person, we speak of respect, about knowing how to be patient. Life is not now, this instant, I want and need it immediately and I’ll make it happen… love is patient, even though my instinct is to give myself entirely, even physically, to the other. It’s important to learn how to wait to give oneself completely. First, it must be guaranteed by a sacramental or civil commitment. We cannot be an object that is used according to circumstances or the feelings of a fleeting moment. We are body and spirit. We must have some guarantee of commitment to the other. Otherwise we will be at the mercy of temporal feelings becoming unhinged. How beautiful it is to see young people learning to wait, even though their natural instincts might be pushing them to intimacy. Both of them will grow more by waiting and learn to love each other even more. Pure love is a gift. After entering into the commitment of marriage, the gift of oneself physically is so much more sweet and beautiful, especially when it is open to life and the possibility of children. We are so much happier when we live a life of giving. At the heart of that is giving to our children… What a joy!
During the courting it’s important to talk about certain topics such as the number of children, which schools will be best for them, how you would like to educate them: values, service, athletics, music…
After our third child was born and we buried our first two within a four month span, the doctors advised us not to have any more children. But nobody should enter into the bed of a mother and father and dictate. It’s a personal decision what happens in the bed of a mother and father. Neither the minister in charge, your mother, your mother-in-law, your friends, nor anyone should decide what happens in your bed with your spouse. And never forget, when we say YES to a new life, there will be many difficulties, but this child is forever, forever, forever…
The fertility of a woman is very short. Nowadays, people get married around 30 years old and a woman is usually fertile until her mid-40s and will live to be close to 100 years old. So the time to have children is very short. But if we are generous, we will have children to share the joy of life with, because the joys of a family are multiplied, while the difficulties are divided.
The great problem with society isn’t a shortage of food, space, nor money, but rather the loneliness of so many people.
Cheer up! Enjoy life! And don’t make mistakes when deciding something so important, something that is forever!