Updated: Sep 26, 2019
I met Mater when I was 27 years old. Asking her out on our first date was nerve-racking but also a huge milestone, because not only was this the start of our relationship, but it was the first date I had ever been on. You read that right - I didn’t go on my first date until I was 27 years old. What’s more, this was the first time I had asked someone out on a date.
But it wasn’t for lack of trying. I was actively seeking for my future wife and spent nearly a decade trying to find her. That also meant that I spent a solid decade of my adult life as a single man. In retrospect, the time I was single was a huge blessing, since it allowed me to improve and prepare myself for my future vocation. However, at the time, it was excruciating. I felt called to marriage, but it seemed like I would be single forever. My friends and siblings (even the younger ones) were planning weddings. I felt like the only single person left in the world, and started to give up hope.
I know there are a lot of Catholic men out there struggling with being single, including all of the temptations that come with it. I understand. I’ve been there. But don’t give up hope! When I was in the midst of my gloom at being single, I had a revelation. “Perhaps I haven’t met my wife yet because God knows I'm not ready to meet her?” I thought. There were definitely some parts of my life that needed to be worked on, and it was at that moment that I made the decision to wisely use the time I was single to prepare to become the best husband and father I could be. I’ve outlined below the areas where I sought improvement. They worked for me, so I’m sharing in the hopes that single guys out there can reap the same benefits.
This is what I did, and what I suggest all single men start doing right now!
Take up interesting hobbies and cross off a couple bucket list items. I always wanted to compete in a triathlon, so that’s what I did. Although I had already met Mater, I also hiked 14ers while we were dating. According to Mater, these experiences made for interesting conversation points in the early days of meeting and talking!
Limit the TV, movies, and video games. These are major time sinks. Plus, most women won’t care that you are really good at video games or have watched all ten seasons of your favorite show. Fill your time trying to better yourself and do something interesting.
Go to Adoration frequently. It will help you grow in virtue. And who knows, maybe you’ll meet your future wife there!
Get involved with young adult groups in your area. I know the quality of young adult groups vary by parish. Some are active and vibrant communities while others are little more than a clique of awkwardness. Regardless of which kind of group is available in your area, take it upon yourself to make it better. Take a leadership role! When I started attending the young adult group at my parish, they were stuck in a rut. They would meet each Sunday after Mass to watch and discuss a short video and then go out to eat. I found this problematic, because it provided little opportunity to actually get to know people in the group and the expense hindered a lot of people from attending. So I planned a group camping trip. Another guy in the group who I befriended started a weekly book club. Quickly, the group started interacting more, getting to know each other better, forming a vibrant community, and attracting new members (thankfully, Mater was one of them). It apparently worked, because within the last year, I’ve attended the weddings of four couples who met in the group. Taking a leadership role also had another perk - you have a reason to go talk to every new member! That’s how Mater and I had our first conversation, and it really helped to break the ice.
Go to confession monthly. If you are struggling with sins against purity, go weekly! I knew I could not be a good father and husband if I didn’t get rid of impurity in my life, so I did everything I could to grow in purity. Interestingly, two months after I successfully and totally rooted out habitual impurity from my life, I met Mater.
Eat healthy and exercise. Women want to marry healthy and fit men, not because they are superficial, but because they want their husband to be around for a long time! Do your part now by getting healthy while you have the time. I’ve found it extremely difficult to keep up exercise during marriage once babies start coming, so I’m glad I was able to get in shape beforehand. This doesn’t mean that you have to look like a body-builder. Rather, your goal should be to have a healthy weight and body mass index.
Generate date ideas ahead of time. As an introvert, this was essential. Before I even met someone to date, I came up with a lot of great date ideas. In my opinion, a date should have three basics: something to eat, something to do, and plenty of time for conversation. It’s also a good idea to keep the first couple dates simple - there’s no need to create a proposal-worthy date for the first date. All it will do is make the woman feel uncomfortable. For our first date, Mater and I went to eat at a mid-range Italian joint (not cheap but not fancy) and then went for a walk around a lake in a neighboring park. The second date we went to a hockey game to watch some fighting and eat nachos and drink beer from the concessions (Mater had more fun than she cares to admit). The third date we went on a hike. All three gave ample time to get to know each other. We didn’t go on a movie date until we were engaged, and I suggest you do the same, since watching a movie gives zero opportunity for conversation during much of the date. Note that all of these dates were public dates, which is essential to follow the traditional Catholic guidelines on courtship.
Save as much money as possible. Dating, a wedding, and supporting a family costs money. Show that you love your future wife by preparing to meet her now. Save up an emergency fund, get out of debt, start saving for retirement, and cut out frivolous spending.
Pray for your future spouse. Pray that she remains pure and grows in virtue and that you do the same. Pray that you have the wisdom to recognize her when the time is right, and the courage to ask her on a date and begin a courtship.
To learn more about what to look for in a spouse and how to ask her on a date when you find her, check out How To Date A Catholic Woman.