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Marriage is not the Purview of the Human Resources Department

I keep hearing this radio ad that makes me so sad. It begins with a woman citing all her positive attributes. She is physically fit and attractive, intelligent, financially secure, and professionally successful. But, alas, she has not found the right life partner. Who has time to seek out a relationship with all the demands of a career? The ad answers this dilemma with a plug for a national matchmaker service. It is not an ordinary online dating service. Think of this company as your “recruiting firm for your personal life”.

This makes me sad because it reduces the concept of marriage to the equivalent of finding a good accountant. If you can’t take time away from your job to find a relationship, what makes you think you will make time to nurture a relationship? Careers are wonderful pursuits, but careers will not get you to Heaven. Discerning God’s call for your personal vocation leads you to Heaven. Your career must fit within that vocation.

The divorce rate among Catholics mirrors the general population. Perhaps this would not be so if we did a better job of emphasizing the concept of marriage as a response to a Divine call. We do not marry simply because it is our preference to marry. We marry because we respond to God’s call to serve Him through the vocation of marriage. It should be a response that is just as deliberate as the response of those called to the priesthood or religious life. It should be undertaken only after serious discernment.

After the wedding, husband and wife must continually recommit themselves and their marriage to God. Family decisions should be accompanied by prayer and the question, “Does this action serve God’s purpose?” Imagine what our communities would look like if this were the driving principle of family behaviors. I know that I have often fallen short of this ideal. I also know that my pre-Cana classes did not teach this concept. It was only many years into my marriage that I realized God was calling my family to a communal holiness as well as calling me to an individual holiness. This is what Pope John Paul II addressed when he used the term “Domestic Church”. I would like to see more words from the pulpit about the formation and sustenance of the “Domestic Church”. Perhaps if more couples thought about their marriage as a Divinely inspired vocation, rather than merely an earthly occupation, we would see a precipitous decline in the divorce rate.


Jim said…
"This makes me sad because it reduces the concept of marriage to the equivalent of finding a good accountant. If you can’t take time away from your job to find a relationship, what makes you think you will make time to nurture a relationship? " -- Dr. Hunnell

Oh, but I can, do and would take time away from my career to find a relationship. Truth be told, and while I enjoy breathing, sleeping and eating as much as the next man, I'd be willing to give up a considerable portion of the time I currently devote to all of those endeavors if I thought for a moment that it would pay off in terms of finding a single, orthodox, Catholic woman that is actually "date worthy." (e.g., a woman that can, per the marriage laws of the Church, get married without first having to consult or otherwise retain the services of a canon lawyer before appearing before a marriage tribunal; a woman that hasn't been on the pill since she was 15; a woman that doesn't sincerely ponder aloud on our first date whether "we" will see a female pope in our lifetimes; a woman that isn't on parole and/or who doesn't keep dead cats in her freezer, etc. ... Yeah, like anyone else, I have my fair share of bad first date stories to tell.)

The problem is that these women either don't exist, are 30 years my senior, or they are hiding real well. I have to tell you that I look to the blog posts that you, Dr. Hunnell, make -- as well as the brilliant responses of your fans, most of whom seem to be married, orthodox Catholic women -- and the first thing I want to do is gather up your/their husbands and take them out to the local steakhouse for dinner so that I can ask them a couple of simple questions -- namely, "How and where did you find them?" and "What am I doing wrong?" Maybe I am wearing the wrong aftershave? Maybe I should be holding the Rosary in my left hand instead of my right? Who knows?

With all due respect, Dr. Hunnell -- and please take me at my word when I say that I write these words with all the sincerity that I can possibly muster! -- the fact that you are "sad" because there all too many single Catholics out there that desperately want what you and your husband (not to mention many of your fans and their spouses) currently experience and enjoy, is, to me, well, a lot like listening to someone that recently won the Mega Millions lottery but who nonetheless ponders why there are so many poor folk in the world.
Catholic Mom said…

I am not at all unsympathetic to your plight. I have four children who are rapidly approaching the point where they start thinking about getting married. When I was my oldest son's age I was already dating my husband. It is frustrating to see how few of their peers were raised in the Church. Every day I pray for the futures spouses of my children should they be called to the vocation of marriage.

Take a look at Dawn Eden's post for today. I think you will be able to relate.
Jim said…
Thanks for the link, Dr. Hunnell. Miss Eden's words were not only beautiful, they were precisely what I needed to hear.
Lily said…

I know so many marriage-worthy women who can't find a dateworthy man! Who MORE than meet your criteria. I know Dozens of women in their twenties, thirties and forties, who have never even slept with a man, and who would dearly love to be married. And they are even intelligent, beautiful and charming. Try going to daily Mass, and just look around the place, that's where we are; if all you see there are old ladies, visit the other parishes around town. (Not that this should be your motivation for going to Mass, of course.)

Here's another idea: volunteer to do youth ministry or catechesis, diocesan retreat ministry, or some other kind of service in the Church. Lots of single women hang out in such circles, and its great to be involved in a project you can do together to get to know each other without pressure.

We too are all asking ourselves what we are doing wrong. We want a good Catholic husband who would make a good daddy for our kids. We are wondering, where are the guys who want what you want?! Blessings!
Adoro te Devote said…
Well said.

Jim, I agree with what you are saying, but being a woman, I'm having the opposite problem. In fact, I know a lot of single men who are TOO YOUNG, but good, solid Catholics. I also know a lot of good, solid Catholic women my age (let me give a range - 28-35), who can't seem to find a match.

We've realized the career isn't everything; in fact, it's nothing. It's completely unfulfilling.

I've given up; it seems I'm meant to be a perpetual single, and so be it. God has a place for me in His Church. I teach RCIA (faithfully! CCC is my friend!), I go to Daily Mass when I can, we have a local Catholic singles group that is very small, but great for general fellowship, yet, I can't seem to find men my actual age.

At this point, I've given up and told God that if He has designes of my life in the form of a married Vocation, then He will have to set it up; the internet has been useless, although I've met some peopel who became friends via that route. Socializing in Catholic circles isn't doing much as most of the people who participate are 5-10 years younger or 20-30 years older. And I attend a HUGE mega-parish!

The reality is Dr. Hunnell hit the nail on the head; the culture reduces marriage to a business, and when people get home from work, why would they want to have to fulfill another business contract on top of it?

I'd rather be single than slip into that poor facade of "marriage".

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