After a long period of time discerning God’s call to the religious life and the priesthood, my desires began to change, and once again I felt drawn to marriage.
I am now married to Katie, a lovely and faithful young Catholic woman. Before I was ready for Katie, Our Lord led me through one other Catholic courtship, which was quite formative in the areas of self-mastery and living our Church’s teachings on chastity as well as in increasing my devotion to the Holy Family and in particular St. Joseph.
After my first Catholic girlfriend, I knew firmly that our Lord was calling me to marriage as my vocation, so I had to find the young woman he had chosen for me to become one flesh with–not an easy task! It was a struggle to both trust that God loved me and would direct me to her and bring us together while at the same time doing everything that I needed to do to cooperate with his grace and find her.
When I first began corresponding with Katie through CatholicMatch.com, I did not place much expectation that she was my future wife because I had corresponded with many young women over the years that I had been a member of those sites. Nonetheless, I always kept that hope in Christ that she just might be the one chosen for me; otherwise, why bother with trying at all?
I had learned much in the past years about how to correspond with people through these sites–how to be patient, how to ask good questions, how much time to expect to invest into it, etc. I had also learned to give people the benefit of the doubt and not reject them prematurely based off of little information (spelling or grammar mistakes, delays in between emails, poor-quality photos making it hard to tell what they looked like).
Katie expressed her uniquely vivacious and enthusiastic personality well in her profile which made the difference in deciding to correspond with her in the first place. If she had merely written the standard fare for biographical information in her self-description, I probably would have passed her up. In truth, when I would do searches in these sites, I usually dedicated about 3 seconds to looking at a woman’s picture to see if I was attracted to her at all, then if I was, another 10 seconds to read her self-description, and if it did not jump out at me, I moved on.
Providentially, Katie described herself with joyful hope and zeal: “I’m so full of dreams!” she exclaimed to start it off. “Wow, that’s cool,” I thought when I read it. “I love being a woman,” she continued, “pearls, dresses, feminine genius”. Then she described the type of man she was looking for and came right out and said she wanted an Ephesians 5 kind-of man. I was familiar with Ephesians 5, so I knew that that was the man I wanted to be, and I wanted a woman who would appreciate a man like me.
So I emailed her, and we started writing to one another regularly. There were some bumps along the road, but God guided us to keep communicating to see what he wanted for us. You can read more about this aspect of our friendship in our success story. After a while, I asked if I could call her on the phone, and she agreed. We talked for about a month before scheduling our first face-to-face visit.
Now I had traveled to New York to meet another young woman a year before me and Katie’s planned visit, and that visit and relationship had taught me a few things:
- Defuse expectations of chemistry for the first visit so that both of you will have the freedom to act as normally as possible
- Paradoxically by expecting only the continuation of your friendship the chemistry will spark between you if God desires it because you will be comfortable enough to just be yourself.
- Plan time together and time apart and time with groups of people (family, friends).
- Having more people around really helps ease the pressure that can exist when it’s just the two of you.
On our visit, our Lord sparked the fire between us. Katie knew I was going to be her husband that night. I was hopeful that she was my future wife but was also cautious because I had met with many disappointments in the past.
We began courting each other while still living 700 miles apart. We talked on the phone every night; we began reading a book called Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts; we continued writing emails to each other almost every day, and we wrote snail-mail letters to each other about twice a month. We also prayed together every night on the phone.
One of the big questions in our courtship was whether Katie would move to Austin or I would move to New Mexico. After our second visit, I brought up this question, but Katie did not feel any peace about the thought of moving to Austin. I understood completely: It’s a strange city that she had only been to once in her life, and furthermore she had recently uprooted herself from Kentucky and moved back home.
So we continued visiting each other every three weeks or so, and after a few months, we started talking about the possibility that our Father was calling us to marriage. We would broach the subject here and there and then back off from it as appropriate, but slowly it became more apparent that he was indeed leading us to marriage.
The next decision was whether or not we could get engaged before we actually lived in the same place as one another. Was it dangerous to do such a thing? Did we really know each other well enough, since we didn’t spend time with each other several days out of each week? Many of my friends and family counseled me to be careful and to wait before proposing, to ask Katie to move to Austin first. I brought these important matters up with Katie, and she told me that she didn’t feel peaceful about moving to Austin as my girlfriend only.
I understood where she was coming from, and I also felt the same way. I wanted to propose to her and felt that she deserved that level of deep commitment to embark on such a big change in her life. We continued to discern our Lord’s will for our engagement, and soon we both knew that he wanted us to become engaged and prepare for marriage to one another!
The rest is history. I proposed to Katie on April 21, 2006, and we set the wedding date on October 7 of the same year. We are now one flesh, one heart, and one soul in Christ, our Lord.
I write this story to inspire you and encourage you to trust in God’s providence and love for you and to follow him wherever he is leading you. He has given everything to us and laid down his very life for us, so we owe him our lives and hearts and bodies and souls. On the Cross, he persevered to the end to redeem us and open up the way to eternal life for us, so we must also persevere and be faithful to him in all things, in particular in discerning our vocation and then following through with how he leads us in it.