I marry my fiancé, Steven, in 95 days. Wow.
For part of our relationship, Steven and I lived in seperate states. I worked as a campus ministry intern in Virginia, while Steven was working as an accountant in Ohio.
When I moved back to our lovely home state, many people assumed Steven and I would move in together. After all, we were pretty sure we were going to get married, so why not save on rent? We could spend this whole “getting to know you” process as roommates and figure out if we were really meant to be.
Yet, for Steven and I, living together before we got married was not an option. Sure, I might have saved some rent money these past few months, but as we get ready to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, we are realizing just how much we gained by waiting to share an address.
Falling in love was beautiful. For the first few months of our relationship we were continually going on fun dates. He swept me off my feet at the Cleveland Art Museum, completely wooed me at the Cleveland Aquarium, and treated me like royalty at our dinner in Little Italy. For our first Valentine’s Day he even brought me chocolate-covered strawberries — the way to my heart.
Of course, the honeymoon stage eventually faded. Steven learned that although I look very clean and organized, it is just because I hide the mess in my closet. I am always early or on time, while Steven is always running a standard 10 minutes late. I learned that Steven is incredibly athletic and works out 5-6 times a week, while I would rather do a 30 minute yoga tape once every few weeks.
These are just a sampling of the differences and weaknesses we have discovered in each other after our three years of dating. However, when Steven got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, I knew that he was choosing me — lack of fitness and messy closet included — and he knows that when I said “yes,” I was choosing him, even if that means that we might be a few minutes late when we leave the house. If we had already been living together, in the back of my mind I would wonder if Steven was asking me to marry him because he had gotten used to having me around. I would wonder if I said yes because I was afraid of being alone or having to open jars by myself.
In 95 days, when I walk down the aisle, there will be no doubt in my my mind that Steven and I are freely choosing marriage not because we had settled in as roommates, but as two people who freely chose marriage as our vocation.
Following the law of God is not always easy, but learning to practice this form of self-control before we marry has given me confidence in our ability to practice self-control within our marriage. When we are unable to be together for whatever reason — a retreat weekend or a work conference — we know the other is capable of being on their own, even if it is tough.
Living apart gives us the freedom to have tough conversations: our plans for the future, how we will handle finances, our desire to have children, fears about marriage, and concerns for moving in together.
The odds are ever in our favor. The divorce rate is much lower for those who choose not to cohabitate prior to marriage. And as someone preparing to walk down the aisle, I am confident that Steven and I are seeking lifelong covenant, rather than simply a living arrangement. Come our wedding day, my life will no longer be just about me. It will be about the holiness of my spouse and any children God blesses us with. I am so grateful that Steven and I have already started to strive for holiness with the living arrangement we have chosen.
We will continue the journey to Heaven for the rest of our married life. This might mean not fighting over messy closets or me being patient when Steven does not manage to get out of the house on time. However, I am confident that I have found the one whom I am willing to sacrifice these next seven months of high rent for, because he is worth every second of the wait. He is worth every struggle we will face in marriage, because I have found the one whom my soul loves.
In three months, I will be able to call him my husband and my roommate. I cannot wait for both.
Mary is passionately Catholic and madly in love with Jesus Christ, her fiancé, social justice, flowers, pictures of wheat, rain, Saint Faustina, and Dorothy Day. She is a Catholic Youth Minister striving for holiness.