Your Family Matters - Preparing to meet your future husband or wife

Could your spouse be in the Archdiocese of Seattle's Holy Thursday pilgrimage crowd? Photo: Courtesy OYYAE Could your spouse be in the Archdiocese of Seattle's Holy Thursday pilgrimage crowd? Photo: Courtesy OYYAE

First nurture your relationship with God, and he will take care of the rest

Sarah Bartel

My grandparents recently reminisced about how they first met at an amusement park and dance hall on the bank of the Columbia River in Portland. A mutual friend arranged to set them up. “It was going to be my last blind date,” Grandpa recalled.

“And it was,” Grandma affirmed, “… wasn’t it?” Fortunately for their children and all of us grandchildren, it was. They fell in love, married, and are enjoying a fruitful and faith-filled union now in its seventh decade.

Finding the right man or woman to marry these days can be a serious challenge for single Catholics. Not everyone has a helpful friend to introduce them to their future husband or wife. What advice would you give to a single friend looking for The One?

Get ready to give of yourself
The vocation of matrimony is a call to live a sacrament of service. It’s good to remember that in looking for a spouse, we’re not looking for someone to “make me happy,” or even to “find myself” in the perfect relationship. We find ourselves in Christ, who reveals the meaning of our life to us. He calls us to give ourselves totally in love, in him, with him, in the way that he does. So the Catholic understanding of marriage is less about receiving than about giving — making a total gift of self to our spouse.

The question is: What is going to help me become the best gift I can be for my future husband or wife?

First, we need to put priorities in order. No matter how much we may be seeking a soul mate, we need to seek God first. Psalm 37:4 reminds us to “Find your delight in the Lord, who will give you your heart’s desire.” And Jesus teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, promising that God will provide the rest. (see Matthew 6:33) When we cultivate an attitude of attentiveness to God’s will, we are preparing ourselves to be the best husband or wife possible.

Nurturing our relationship with God in prayer and the sacraments, reading sacred Scripture, growing in virtue and service, and studying the teachings of the church — especially on marriage and family — help men and women prepare for their vocation to matrimony. And as for “the rest,” that little detail of finding The One? God will provide, when the time is right.

Where to find Mr. or Mrs. Right
Lucy, a young newlywed featured in a “success story” on the dating website, sets a great example here: “I had always wanted to be married very much and I knew that it was my calling from God,” she reported. “I tried very hard … to focus on being the kind of person God wants me to be.” The story concludes, “being that person led her to the man she was intended to be with.”

Where are some good places to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right? A good number of my friends have met their spouses online through Ave Maria Singles and CatholicMatch.

Local Catholic young adult events (for ages 18–35) combine opportunities to grow in faith and connect socially. Blessed Sacrament Parish, in Seattle’s University District, offers “Drinks with the Dominicans” along with monthly “Saturday Night Alive” evenings. These begin with contemplative eucharistic worship, followed by refreshments and culturally enriching entertainment featuring visual art or music. A “Saturday Night Alive” young adult retreat is coming in early November at the Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades in Federal Way.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has been leading annual nighttime walking pilgrimages on Holy Thursday. Pilgrims ages 18–39 hike Seattle’s hills to visit the cathedral and several city parishes for eucharistic adoration at the churches’ altars of repose.

Imagine how amazing it would be to meet your husband or wife during an experience like that. Just think: trekking and praying with 250 other young believers following our bishop through the dark, misty streets of Seattle, stepping into candlelit sanctuaries scented with flowers and the lingering aroma of incense to kneel before the quiet presence of our Lord, and meeting the love of your life along the way. What a story that would be to tell your grandchildren! 


Sarah Bartel

Sarah Bartel, a member of St. Andrew Parish in Sumner, holds a doctorate in moral theology and ethics from The Catholic University of America, where she specialized in marriage, family, sexual ethics and bioethics. Her website is