Ivan George for Engagement Photo

Before “I Do”

Learning how to find the right spouse

By: Kris Harris

Making the decision to enter into the Holy Sacrament of Marriage is one of those life-changing moments. However, finding or thinking you’ve found the right spouse, is sometimes the most difficult step to take. Even when you think you may have found him or her, there is a crucial element, sometimes overlooked or taken for granted —how well do you know your future spouse and are you certain he or she is the right person for you.

Patrice Abona was nearly 30 years old when she married her husband Emil. “Life was good but you when you are not married at a certain age, you get a lot of pressure from the outside world,” she said. “Internally too; we all have a desire to be with someone.”

Engagement

Abona talked about finding the right spouse in an episode of the Mar Toma Productions Invitation to Sisterhood. During the same show, Fr. Pierre Konja, administrator at Mother of God Church in Southfield, reminded viewers that couples are not always in the sample place, in terms of their spirituality, which can raise some questions. “Is this somebody that’s closer to Christ or someone that can get me closer to Christ?” asked Fr. Pierre. “If not, is it someone that I can marry and would be good, but not super holy by praying the rosary every single night, but would challenge me to be a better person?”

Finding the right spouse is not always easy, but keeping an open mind can help when looking for the right person. “You can meet a really great church-goer and faithful person, but he is really boring or he never wants to talk,” said Fr. Pierre. “But then you can meet someone who is really outgoing and you’re best of friends, but his faith isn’t as strong as you’d like it to be. So you can’t put things in boxes. You have to make decisions on your own, as far as whom I want to spend the rest of my life with and will this person lead me closer to God in the relationship.”

Timing is everything. “Amil and I talk about if we had met three years earlier would we have been ready for each other,” said Abona. “Praying for the right spouse is good. I also learned that praying for him even when I didn’t know him was important.”

“God’s time is not always our time,” chimed in May Seman, co-host of the episode.

Being realistic and honest with yourself is also important. “I always tell my kids that whatever your list is of what that person needs to have, you must have those things to,” said Seman. “Don’t have high expectation of someone but you lack those things yourself.”

When couples feel they might be ready for marriage, Fr. Pierre believes it’s important that couples first have an open and honest relationship. “Usually, I meet with couples that are pretty close to marriage, within a year of the ceremony,” said Fr. Pierre. “By this time, you should know everything about this person. Baggage, dating history, family struggles, and what has formed him to the person he is today. The good, the bad and the ugly, so we can put it out there and they can know who each other really are, and still say, ‘I love you and I still want to be your spouse.'”

Couples, who feel they are ready for marriage, need to keep in mind that just because you want to get married doesn’t mean that you automatically receive the church’s blessing. “There has been a few times where I’ve really put my pen down, while filling out the file and said, ‘I really suggest you don’t get married in the time frame you’re wanting to,'” said Fr. Pierre. “They should be excited because they’re going to the church to make it official and legitimatize it, but they’re angry and upset and it made me wonder why they were there.”

The church only wants to see healthy and happy relationships develop and grow over time, which is why they are there to help with the process. “We want couples to live happy, fruitful, Christ-centered lives, so we want to guide them to it,” Fr. Pierre explained. “Marriage has its struggles; it‘s reality and it needs to be looked at as real. When people just take a step back and realize what marriage is, and why is it important, I think the process can be more fluid.”

Fr. Pierre reminds couples that marriage is more than just spending the rest of your life with someone else. “This is a vocation from God that’s been elevated to a Sacrament and that’s supposed to lead you closer to Him, to gain you salvation,” he said. “We want couples to have found a spouse that at least can help with that or is on the same page with that. When that is understood, it becomes much easier to enter into marriage.”