Begin your search with prayer. Ask God to choose for you. Let your life be guided by God. This calls for an open heart and an open mind to God ‘s plans for you. Also, Pray for your future spouse. Ask God to lead that spouse to you. Ask him to help your heart see and expand to accept the one he has chosen for you.
2. Make a List
Write down the qualities you are searching for in a spouse. It can be as long as you want. After some time, – days, weeks or months,– revisit the list and eliminate non-essentials or things you can ultimately do without. Take another break. Return to the list and rank by priority. Take your top 10 qualities to a trusted and wise friend. Consult with him or her on your top ten qualities that you look for in a spouse. Revisit your list and make any edits you have been inspired to make.
3. Christian or Not
It is ideal to find a spouse who knows and loves God. However, it is good to also remain open minded. For instance, it can be a good start to choose a person who believes that there is a God and a Creator of the universe but who is not necessarily a Catholic or Christian. There is always hope that such a spouse will come to know and love God. There are countless stories of conversion of such spouses after years of marriage to the spouse who is a practicing Christian.
That said, keep in mind that the differences of values in marriages between practicing Christians and non-Christians can sometimes pose a serious challenge. Take for instance, a situation where a non-Christian spouse requests an open marriage or an abortion which the Christian spouse is unwilling to accept. These are no trite matters.
Therefore, aim to choose someone with your values. Marriage can be challenging sometimes even for people with almost identical values, why make it harder? Aim for a Catholic or Christian spouse in the first place but stay open minded in prayer.
Go on dates but aim to court. Courtship is a period of mutual knowing. A type of friendship and mutual self-assessment. Do not rush over this phase. Your date could be the mother or father of your children. Take the time to know your date well. Let the following principles guide you:
5. Truth and Honesty
Love conquers all but love can also be derailed when there are lies. Take the time to know your boyfriend or girlfriend. Divulge your dreams, fears, worries, concerns and struggles. Do it with gentleness and naturalness to encourage your boyfriend or girlfriend to do the same. Listen and do not judge. Use this exercise to understand how you might resolve significant differences in values – if possible. This is also a good opportunity to discern whether there is significant hope for this relationship or whether it is better to go your separate ways.
6. Avoid Comparison
Accept your new relationship for what it is – a unique relationship. Avoid comparing your relationship with the relationships of your friends. Also, do not compare your date with a previous date. Do not put pressure on your boyfriend or girlfriend because you saw something else in another relationship. Focus on your current relationship with prayer.
7. Be Happy On Your Own
No one – but God – can make another person totally happy. Don’t expect a future spouse to be your main source of happiness. It is unfair to put such a burden on another person. Try to find good things that make you happy and do them. You may find happiness in working out, singing, writing a blog, hanging with friends etc. In addition, study Scripture and Church teaching to learn how to achieve ultimate happiness in this life and in the next. (See the Beatitudes: Mt.5).
8. Understand True Love
Know that love is not merely an emotion or romance. Those are only pieces of the pie. The other key piece of love is to give up many good things we would prefer for the sake of another. Take for example, the mother who stops a job she enjoys to be more available to her children or a husband who moves away from his home city after marriage to be with his new spouse. These types of sacrifices inherent to true love means that love is paradoxical in a mysterious way. We experience love by losing ourselves to the one we love. Understand this, and you will be able to love others and be able to identify when they truly love you.
Attraction is important. Do not overlook this. We are not robots. We are humans whose heart and senses work together for the good. Ensure you are attracted to your potential spouse. This does not mean that the attraction between you two must constantly be on fire. What it means is that there should be sufficient attraction that you could see this person as your husband and the father of your children and vice versa. Pray that you are attracted to the person that God will choose for you.
Choose a spouse who will help you to enter heaven. Marriage is a vocation. One of the first calls from God to humanity was to be married, fruitful and multiply, Gen 1:28; Mt 19: 4-6. Find that person who will work with you to help you become better than you are today – not only materially but spiritually. Aim for a spouse that affirms you today and does not put you down. One that also, while affirming you, seeks your transformation for the better, using means that are pleasing to God. Note that spouses do not have to be Christian to help you transform in goodness. Non-Christian spouses with good values and virtues may be able to help you grow in this manner too.
Go out and meet new people. Join the youth group at your church and/or go and volunteer at charities that tend to attract people of your age-range. Let close friends and family members know you are discerning marriage and searching for a spouse. This way, they too can be on the lookout for you. You can try other means such as online dating or meeting people on social media. However, try to stay safe and be very careful with meeting up with strangers so quickly in non-public places. Also, do not lower your moral standards to attract your spouse. This is incompatible with your prayer.
12. Fight Discouragement
Fight any negative thought that accosts your mind in the process of searching for your God-chosen spouse.. Remind yourself that you are made in the image of God. Recite Psalm 27 daily if you find yourself struggling with trust in God. Examine your conscience to see if there are any reasons why God may not be answering you. If all is well after your examination of conscience, then seat back, relax, take care of yourself and carry out all the above principles with renewed vigor.
Archangel St. Raphael, and St Ann, grandmother of Jesus, pray for your children seeking spouses. Lead them to the spouse God has chosen for them.