There were a lot of things I considered before getting married.
Did my boyfriend and I share the same values?
Did we share the same morals?
Was he kind, was he generous, was he charitable, was he honorable?
Where would we settle down?
Whose family would we spend holidays with?
Did our families get along? Did my boyfriend fit in with my family, and did I with his?
Was family important to him?
What about children?
Or finances? How would we handle our money?
Were we on the same page?
Did we believe the same things?
What were our end goals — were they the same?
Would we lead each other to Heaven? Would we make each other become better, holier people?
The list can go on and on.
But there’s another question to ask. Kevin Thompson first pointed it out here. He calls it the most overlooked characteristic of who you want to marry, and I have to agree with him.
This question he suggests asking is not something I thought of too much before getting married, but it’s something I have thought about a lot since then — and it makes perfect sense.
The question is, “Can I suffer with this person?”
There’s a joke that goes something like — “Before you marry a person you should first make them use a computer with slow internet to see who they really are.”
I’ve always thought that was funny, because it can honestly tell you a little bit about a person with how they handle themselves in that situation — are they patient, are they angry, do they throw a fit?
My husband is incredibly patient. I’m still working on that virtue…
But it’s questions like that — the ones that ask how that person reacts in a tough situation — that can really answer the question of whether that person is someone you can marry. Because tough situations are bound to happen. Because suffering, death, and tragedy are all a part of life, so we have to ask, “Is this the person I want with me when ______ happens?”
Because not everybody suffers well, not everybody understands it — and not everybody can remind you of its worth or meaning. And not everybody is patient.
Thompson writes, “Those who do suffer well are a well-spring of life and faith. Who do you want holding your hand when the test says “cancer?”On whose shoulder do you want to lean when the doctor says, “We’ve done all we can?” With whom do you want to lay beside when you don’t know where your child is or if they will ever come home? When your world turns upside down, in whose eyes do you want to look? Find someone who suffers well.”
This question — “Can I suffer with this person?” — really reminds me of our wedding vows.
Can you take your husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part? Essentially, we are being asked in our wedding vows, “Can you suffer with this person?”
If it hasn’t happened before the day you say, “I do,” it is bound to happen while you’re married (I promise, unfortunately), and you have to know whether your spouse will be there to help you walk through this — with faith and hope.
You have to know how they deal with hurt, with disappointments, with setbacks, with tragedies and with evil.
Because these things can paralyze us, they can isolate us and create walls between us. Or, they can bring us closer — to God, and to our loved ones. They can be a means of growing in our faith, especially with our spouse’s help.
And when it comes to our spouses, I hope and pray that they’re the ones who can give us faith when we have doubt, and who can provide some strength when we feel weak.
Read more here.
This article originally appeared at Catholic Wife, Catholic Life.