I’ve been dating a woman for a few months who doesn’t appreciate Catholicism and I’m looking to be told what to do in regards to marrying her, I just want to know if I don’t marry her will that make me a bad person?

Since you’ve only known this girl a few months I would be very cautious about jumping into marriage too quickly. It’s the number one reason that annulments and divorces happen. Let’s put that out there first of all.

I think you need to explore the reasons as to why you have cold feet. It also sounds to me like perhaps people are pressuring you to get married –which is never a good reason to get married. I might suggest talking with a counselor or a priest that you trust about this.

Marriage is a sacramental partnership and it is never a 50-50 partnership. Rather it is a 100%-100% partnership where each person totally gives themselves to one another and grows in love. You needn’t be the “Head of the Household” alone. Your future wife and you should be the head of the household together. That takes the pressure off both of you. In marriage, you make your decisions not based on what’s good for you alone, but rather, what’s good for the family. It’s like being on a sports team (if I can pose such a horrible male-based analogy that you might understand). Together the team makes decisions for the “good of the team.” There is no “I” in team.

Some comforts: This is a time for exploration with your partner. You should (and need to in order to have a Catholic wedding) go through a marriage prep program in your parish. I would highly recommend going on the Engaged Encounter Weekend (don’t let anyone talk you out of this–by saying you can simply do the program in one day or a number of meetings a week instead). It’s a retreat where you can explore the differences in your relationship together. If you tell me where you are I can recommend some sites for you.

Also in any good marriage prep program, you’ll take the FOCCUS survey (or perhaps another type) which is basically a compatibility survey. Now this doesn’t mean that it’ll tell you that you shouldn’t marry someone based on what the results are–but it will point out the areas that you may need to work on before you take the big leap. The engaged encounter also does this for you in a calm, relaxed setting where you won’t end up yelling at one another over the differences. You’ll need to see where compromises need to be made and also see where your future spouse sits on certain issues that maybe have never come up in conversation. (and since you’ve only known each other for a few months that list could be extensive).

A friend went on engaged encounter and said that it was the best thing she could have done. Why? Because she didn’t marry the guy. They broke it off and saved themselves a lot of heartache.

You spoke about disappointment for others if you don’t get married….what about the disappointment you’ll go through long after the wedding if you jump into this too early? You aren’t a bad person if you don’t get married and don’t let anyone tell you that. However, you should have better reasons for not getting married than “I don’t want to grow up.” From my omniscient glance, it looks as if you need to explore this relationship a lot more carefully to determine if those rumblings of fear you feel in your stomach are justified (and perhaps they are–and perhaps they are for different reasons than you may think).

Most of all, pray. Pray that the spirit will open your heart to explore your deepest feelings about marriage and will come to show you that this sacrament is not to be entered into lightly. May you one day be fully able and ready without reservation to give yourself to someone in this holy sacrament. And always remember that even if you don’t get married, you still have much to offer God, the world, and yourself.

For now, my peace,

Mike Hayes is the Senior Editor for Googling God