In one of my favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally, Sally says to her friend who’s trying to set her up with a guy who’s not in good health, “Are you saying I should marry this guy because he’s about to die?” Her friend replies, “At least you could say you were married.”
Oh, that dangling carrot, marriage. We chase after it for good reason. Marriage is a wonderful, beautiful thing. Something God created for us to find happiness within.
For people who have been through a divorce, the value that dangling carrot has is ten times it’s normal worth. Having the opportunity to get remarried after going through a divorce and the annulment process makes a significant statement. Not only does remarriage eliminate the loneliness felt in the post-divorce years and bring back the joy of being in love and having a companion in life, but it makes an important statement to others. It means, Hey everybody, I’m still loveable. Hey everybody, I’m not a total failure. See, I am attractive after all.
So, in looking for a new relationship that will be good, holy, and permanent, it’s important to have those very conditions at the forefront of your search, instead of coupling up with just anyone who will fill that relationship need.
During the month of May this year, Pope Francis gave a wonderful morning homily that we can easily apply to the unhealthy practice of getting into a relationship, just for the sake of being with someone. He touched upon the need to detach from anything that got in the way of our relationship with Christ, which could be a romantic relationship. So many people jump into a relationship without taking the time to make sure it is one that moves the two of you toward God.
We all are familiar with the parable of the rich young man in the New Testament who walked away from Jesus because he could not let go of his possessions. He followed the commandments with zeal but in the end, he was too attached to his stuff; his acoutrements, toys, baubles, bling… Whatever you want to call it, he just couldn’t let go of it.
This same mentality can be present in a relationship you get into if your goal is solely proving to yourself and others that you are still loveable and attractive. The relationship becomes the thing you must have and once you have it, you can’t let go of it, otherwise, you have yet another failed relationship.
This is how bigger mistakes are made on down the road; by clinging to the new relationship as a prized possession, not taking into consideration that it is distancing you from God. And that will never make you happy.
Here are some indicators that your relationship is something you’re clinging to for the wrong reasons:
- If you tell everyone the two of you are in love but know you aren’t.
- If your significant other asks you to do things that go against your morals (sleeping together, moving in together, etc.)
- If you’re not on the same page regarding contraception, having children, practicing your faith, etc.
- If you’re already engaged to be married, but do not have a decree of nullity (annulment). This, in particular, places undue pressure on you as a couple, your families, and the tribunal because they are expected to perform to your standards and cough up a decree of nullity within your specific time frame, or you will go get married somewhere else. I can’t think of a worse start to a marriage.
In his homily, the pope indicated how having a fascination with the temporary things in life rather than accepting God’s time which is “definitive” will lead us away from Him and on a path of discontent. This directly relates to believing that a relationship (temporary) is your primary goal instead of believing God’s plans will bring you happiness and lead you to heaven (permanent).
Having gone through the divorce, annulment, dating, and remarriage experience, myself, I encourage you to ask God what He wants for you as you search for the right relationship and don’t settle for less than what you know is right for you. In the end, if you do your part, your relationship will be happy and fruitful because your priorities and morals match up and your hearts are at peace.
As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and disagreements at firstname.lastname@example.org.