Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
My oldest girl just entered her teens, so I still have some time. However, lately I have been giving some thought to my requirements, yes requirements, for any young man that may one day seek her hand. It is never too soon to start planning.
He must be a Catholic. Period. Now I know that for many CINOs or C & E Catholics, intermarriage is no big deal. It is a big deal. The key to a successful marriage, which I define as a mutually supportive relationship that will assist the spouses and their children reaching heaven, is to have agreement on the fundamentals. To be a Catholic in today's world is increasingly counter-cultural. Unless both spouses are on-board with what the Church teaches and its authority, you can expect nothing but strife. Any young man that seeks my daughter's hand must be a Catholic through and through. How can you tell? The following rules assist with that.
He must attend mass every Sunday of his own accord. As an independent young man, he must attend mass every Sunday of his own accord. It is one thing for a young man living with his parents to attend mass because they require it. ('cause that is what good parents do) But the real test of his commitment to his faith is whether he attends mass every Sunday and holy day of his own volition. If he knows enough to accept his need and responsibility to attend mass, that is a very good sign in my book. If he doesn't, he is not the right man for my daughter.
He must pray. Now I don't expect to know the details of his prayer life, but I think you can tell when somebody is prayerful by how they are when involved in a public prayer setting. You can see how comfortable and practiced they are with prayer. Of course, my daughter should be doing a lot of prayer with him, so I expect him to be quite versed by the time we are thinking of marriage.
If he is a Catholic who attends mass and prays, we are off to a good start. But there is more I must see from him before I consent.
He must treat his mother well. I will tell my daughter, look at the way he treats his mother because that is the way he will eventually treat you. Guaranteed. If he treats his mother with kindness, deference, and respect then he might be a keeper. However, if he is dismissive, rude, or condescending to his mother, you can guarantee that he will eventually treat my daughter the same way. Look for how people treat those closest to them.
A man has to know his limitations. I want to be able to share an occasional beer or some Jameson's with my son-in-law, so I don't mind a man who drinks. But a man must know his limitations. If he has to be told to stop by others or on more than one occasion crosses the threshold of proper diction, then I question his ability to control himself. Many men learn this over time, but some don't. It is better that he is starting from a good place.
He needs to be an honest man in an honest job making a decent living. Any young man who seeks my daughter's hand must demonstrate his ability to provide for a family. He needs to be serious about his employment and employer. Contrary to the current zeitgeist, nobody owes you anything in this life. You must earn what you get. He doesn't have to be rich or have potential for a six-figure income, but he needs to be willing to work hard and smart and earn his way in life. That is what I want to see.
He needs to be open to children. If I ever hear the young man disparage or question the idea of a large family, my daughter needs to choose someone else. Openness to life and the willingness to accept each and every child as a gift from God and a blessing in life is one of the true signs of a proper relationship with God. Anyone who sees children in financial terms or as a burden does not have the respect for God's greatest blessing. To me, it shows me a person oriented to the world and not to heaven. Each and every child is a blessing. Openness to life is a must.
He better ask me first. And last but not least, any young man that seeks my daughter's hand better ask me first. If he respects my daughter, as he better, then he should show the proper respect to me. When he asks, it is then he will know my judgement of him based upon the other 7 criteria listed above.
Welcome to the family son.