Shouldn’t we work on ourselves to be better prepared for marriage?

Dear Anthony,

I’ve been trying to be a good, Catholic woman, and trying to prepare to be a good wife. But why is it that none of the men that I have met so far have any interest in preparing themselves to be a good husband and act like if this is going to come automatically once they get married? They like to party a lot, (nothing wrong with just a party, but I’m sure you know what I mean), overly flirtatious with women or staring at them (sometimes even right in front of me), maintaining many female friends on social networks that dress like scantily, (like a soft porn magazine style), and yet they want their future wife to be pure, modest and virgin? What makes them think that a decent woman in her right mind would want to date a man like that? What are they thinking?

Thank you very much for contacting me about this. I understand what you are going through, and have heard similar things from many other women over the years. Guys get a bit disturbed sometimes about my responses to women who have these types of issues with men; they tend to think I am only interested in defending women. In fairness, I want to first say that this is a problem both sexes are facing. There are many good men having to deal with women who claim to be Catholic but don’t seem to be concerned with modesty or being overly flirtatious, nor interested in preparing in many important ways to become a good wife and mother. I invite men experiencing similar issues to write me to ask me to address specific things for them, which I am happy to do.

For now, I want to address your question regarding men (some of the principles which men can apply to their situations). What I like seeing in your question to me is your own efforts to improve yourself. I would encourage you to continue recognizing any issues you have, and working on yourself to become the kind of person a good Catholic man should want in a woman for a wife and mother in the vocation of marriage. I applaud that you understand the importance of working on yourself.

To move on with your specific question, there are a lot of ways I could answer this for you. I think most ways are not going to be very helpful to you because there is not much you can do about it. For example, when asking why aren’t men interested in preparing themselves for their future wife, or what are they thinking when they say they want to meet a nice, pure, modest virgin, but continue to show interest in what seems like the wrong kind of girl, the possible answers are not very inspiring. Because if Catholic men are not preparing themselves for their future wife by trying to get into life habits and attitudes conducive to a man who would have to show true love and devotion to his wife and family, then they are not really interested in the reality of the process of marriage, nor the maturity it takes to build their lives properly.

However, most Catholic men who desire to be married are sincerely making the appropriate efforts, but perhaps are falling short due to some very powerful forces that affect the modern American Catholic man. These include affluence, media, pornography, advertising, and certain kinds of neglect during their upbringing that has affected their character. Women need to be patient with these men and understand there are forces working on them. Women should not excuse them for their immaturity or bad behavior/habits, but being kind and gentle with them is important. If they display no desire to work on the things they need to change or do something about, then a woman should not believe he is going to change later. I agree with you that a good man will know his weaknesses and imperfections, and desire to work on them. Too often, men are not willing to admit these problems. This is very sad, because they do not realize it is not just themselves they are harming, but also the women they will interact with, one of which could have potentially made a suitable partner for him. But he will not end up with her, due to his unwillingness to making changes.

There is hope. I believe that the right woman can change a man substantially. If he recognizes in this right woman her love, her holiness, her beauty, and an openness to give herself to him, he will not want to lose her. A good woman can make a man become what he needs to become to win her. You keep being the person you need to be, and be patient with a man who shows potential. Don’t be quick to condemn a good man who fails; encourage him by your own virtue. Gentle persuasion, especially through your example of how you conduct yourself and your firm principles, can do wonders to inspire a good man. If he is not a good man to begin with, he will see this as being contrary to what he wants, and you therefore don’t want him anyway.

You do not have to settle for an immature man who does not want to work on himself. But be careful not to dismiss a good man with a lot of potential, who might simply need time and a good woman to inspire him. Finally, pray for men in general, but particularly your future spouse, wherever he is. Ask God to inspire him to be work on becoming the man he needs to be for marriage, and that he will have the eyes and heart to realize who you are when you come along in his path.

I hope this helps.

Yours in Christ,