I was a little boy-crazy back in high school. I had an endless series of crushes. I dated. I flirted. I broke some hearts and I had my heart broken. I had those puppy-love relationships that felt real and serious and this is it. All of these boys were Catholic—either practicing or, at least, culturally Catholic. I actually met most of these boys through church. I figured, I’d meet some Catholic boy eventually, have the Catholic wedding, and have the Catholic babies and that’d be it. Well, that’s not exactly how it happened.
At eighteen, I moved away for college and planned on focusing on school, having some fun, and getting into dental school. I would think about serious dating eventually and get married eventually. Eventually. During my first semester of college at a local club, I met him. He was handsome, friendly, athletic, smart, loyal, funny, caring, interesting, and not Catholic. And I was a goner. At first, I ignored it. He was non-denominational Christian and had a faith-filled upbringing. That was something right?
But at some point I had to really decide if dating a non-Catholic was something I could do. Would we just end up hurt in the end? Would I end up compromising too much? I fell head-over-heels in love with this man. He was it for me. I had to ask myself some tough questions.
What is his dating philosophy?
When I first realized I loved my (now) husband, I knew that I wanted to pursue a real relationship with him. It was important to me that dating was considered a pre-cursor to marriage and not just a way to “rack ‘em up”. I was not willing to date casually and constantly wonder whether he was faithful to me and our relationship. We spent about three months going on dates, spending time together, meeting each other’s friends, and getting to know one another. We had a conversation about exclusivity and when we both discussed that our dating relationship would be exclusive and serious, I knew that was a big step in the right direction. Labels were important to me. I wanted to be able to state this is my boyfriend. He did not shy away from that label and he proudly called me his girlfriend. Dating each other was a commitment to be honored and respected.
How does he talk about his family and how does he treat them?
My husband gushed about his parents. He loves them deeply. He looks up to his father and has a loving and devoted relationship to his mother. He loves his siblings and even while away at college, remained involved in their lives. He called his grandmother. He reminisced about summer get-a-ways with his grandfather. He visited aunts and uncles and played with his little cousins. He was a family man.
That was important to me. I could already see the value he placed in family. He did not talk disrespectfully to his mother and he sought advice from his father. I come from a big, loud, and incredibly loving family. I wanted my boyfriend to be able to come to my family gatherings and not be scared away. I wanted to be able to meet his family and get to know them. I wanted us to become part of each other’s families.
How does he handle conflict resolution?
I am a passionate, type-A, control freak. He is a stubborn, equally passionate, and resolute person. We had some conflicts in those dating days. We bickered and fought (still do) but he never took cheap shots. He never walked out. He never shut me out. He never used the silent treatment. He was never violent. He never betrayed my trust. Even when we were upset or mad or hurt, we took the time to hear one another out. He apologized for any wrong-doing. I apologized for my bad attitude. We remained committed to one another and that meant always and every time coming to the table and resolving our conflicts.
Does he show curiosity and interest in my faith?
Early on, he would come to Mass with me and I would go to church with him. He was respectful of my faith. He asked questions and never tried to change me. He never pressed me to abandon my beliefs. I went through a crisis of faith in college, but he would encourage me to pray about it. He never expressed interest in converting while we were dating and his mom was a bit wary, but he always respected that I was and always will be Catholic. If I were not able to talk about my faith or if I never was able to share it with him, I do not think we would have stayed in a relationship. (He has also has not said he won’t ever convert, so fingers crossed and prayers his way.)
What are his beliefs about marriage and the roles of spouses?
While I was applying to dental school, I had my first serious thoughts of marriage. We had been dating over two years when I started my application process. I applied to all the California dental schools, but some across the country. I did not want to have to date long-distance so our first serious conversations about marriage went along with my application cycle. We also did not want to live together prior to marriage so it was clear that if we were to move away to dental school together, it would be as husband and wife. It was also important to me that my future spouse had the same beliefs about marriage and the roles of spouses.
To me, marriage was for life and not to be taken lightly. He believes the same. He wanted his wife to be his partner in life, through everything, good and bad. He believed that any money we made would be our money and any debt would be our debt. He wanted to have children and raise them to love the Lord. And one month after I was accepted into dental school, he proposed to me.
Is he willing to make the Sacrament of marriage?
Yay! We’re engaged! Let’s tell our families! Oh wait, just a little thing, was he willing to make the sacrament of marriage with me? Good news, he was. Although he had NO idea what that would entail, he was willing to do it all. He took the NFP class with me. We went on the engaged encounter weekend. We met multiple times with the deacon who was marrying us. We put down the deposit on the church. We did it all. He wanted to do it all. That meant the most to me. And speaking of sacraments, he was willing to baptize in the Catholic Church any children we were blessed with.
At the end of the day, there are many factors that go into dating and choosing who to date—personalities, beliefs, values, life styles, etc. But when it comes to deciding to date a non-Catholic, maybe take some time to answer these questions. They helped me decide and now here we are almost six years later with two beautiful children and completely devoted to one another. He’s even doing the Sign of the Cross and attempting to follow along during Mass so . . . progress!
Written by Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm. Find out more about her here.