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Catholic Activity: Qualities to Seek in a Mate

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Encourage your offspring to consider carefully the qualities a person needs to perform the responsibilities of marriage properly.

DIRECTIONS

Any serious thought will convince the normal intelligent youngster that many of the popular standards for choosing a mate lack intrinsic merit. For instance, contrary to what movie and television plays suggest, the ideal husband is not the wisecracking playboy who is tall, handsome and a smooth dancer. Nor is the ideal wife necessarily the one with the most beautiful face and most curvaceous figure. The fact is that the husband or wife who contributes most to the happiness of a marriage need not have physical beauty at all. While it is true that a man and woman should feel physically attracted toward each other, the qualities that produce a lasting, loving relationship are those of the soul and heart rather than of the body.

If you would have your children make a good choice in marriage, encourage them to look for a sense of unselfishness in their prospective partner — a willingness to deny self, if need be, in order to serve others. Encourage them to look for a deep and abiding religious sense, for trust in Almighty God will enable them — and their partners — to surmount the difficulties, trials and disappointments which will inevitably come their way. The ideal marriage partner is courteous, kind and considerate; he is mature enough to recognize and accept responsibilities without complaining; realistic enough to know that compromises are necessary to make any marriage succeed, and humble enough to know that he must make his share.

Young men and women of earlier generations had an advantage over modern youngsters because they usually could observe their prospective partners in everyday work situations. Because the average man worked near his home, and generally married a woman who also lived nearby, she often could see how he went about his everyday job, accepted responsibilities and behaved when confronted by the serious functions of living — how, in brief, he acted in a role like the one he would play as a husband. And since the unmarried woman of an earlier day worked about the house caring for the younger children and doing similar home-making tasks, her prospective husband could observe how she might act as a wife.

Today, however, young men and women know each other almost solely as recreational partners. They attend movies or dances on dates, and their major interest is having good times together. But the woman who chooses a husband solely on the way he acts on dates may face a lifetime of disappointments. The "Good-time Charlie" of courtship days may remain that way after marriage, and the wife who needs his wages to pay for the baby's milk may discover that he has spent them having fun. Likewise, "Midnight Mary," who is always the last one to leave the party, may not seem quite so glamorous to her husband when he must make the children's breakfast because she is too tired to do so.

Activity Source: Catholic Family Handbook, The by Rev. George A. Kelly, Random House, Inc., New York, 1959

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