“Faith, Hope & Love” is proud to publish a second exclusive excerpt of Amy Bonaccorso’s new book, “How To Get To ‘I Do’: A Dating Guide For Catholic Women.” This comes from chapter seven (pages 76-78), titled “Growing outside yourself.”
Relationships take work
A friend said, “I know someone who says that the right relationship shouldn’t take work. That person is not in a relationship because the minute anything happens, she’s gone.”
There were times when I wondered if I was trying too hard to make it work with my husband when we were dating. I learned not to be afraid of working on a partnership that has promise though. I used to chat with a man who was an Orthodox Jew from New York City, and he had valuable insights on dating and marriage. He said, “Anything worth having is going to take some work.” He dispelled Hollywood notions of idyllic romances that last forever without some discomfort along the way. He had been married for years and had a large family, so his life situation lent credibility to his words.
Similarly, a coworker who had the benefit of wise grandparents shared the same message. His grandparents had been married for many years, but he knew through his conversations with them that they didn’t always click or view their spouse as their favorite person every day.
Rather than get caught up in that, they embraced each other for life and let the daily irritations roll off their backs. The big picture and the good moments were more important and worth preserving. Their patient mindset and steadfast manner were the key to the success of their relationship.
I dated men with whom it should have been easy to form long-term alliances. We were on the same page in important ways, but they refused to work on anything or let foibles go. My husband’s willingness to work on things and grow is one of the key assets that set him apart from the other guys and made him a keeper. Our differences weren’t as important as our commitment to working together.
This bears saying because a lot of modern-day advice givers urge daters to avoid relationships that require work. Many articles, books, and speakers push this potentially self-absorbed and narcissistic philosophy.
It’s seductive when you’re in a slump and read an article promoting this view, because it’s appealing to think that you’re entitled to happiness 24-7 and anything less is beneath you. By all means, if you’re constantly feeling bad about yourself and having problems in a particular relationship, maybe you should back out. I have known women, however, who exaggerated problems in relationships because of a deeply-held belief that the right relationship shouldn’t require work and that their times was too valuable to invest fully in one that did.
Growing outside yourself doesn’t mean growing away from God. When I was dating my husband and wondering if the relationship was right for me, I got a sign.
I went with him to New Jersey to meet his family for the first time. As I got out of the car at his grandparents’ house, I saw a statue of St. Therese, my patron saint, on their lawn. Once inside the house I realized that his grandmother also had a strong devotion to St. Padre Pio, one of my favorite saints.
To me this was God’s way of saying, “I know you’re worried that this man isn’t devout enough for you, but I am here with this family, and everything is going to be OK. This could work out if you want it to.”
I realize that some people think it is foolish to look for signs, but my life is full of them, whether I look for them or not. It’s a way that God communicates with me and reassures me. So if you get signs, pay attention, use discernment, and consider whether or not God is speaking to you through them.