Sunday, July 12, 2009

Exciting News and Summer Weddings

Book Contract!
I am about to sign a book deal with Servant Books. The book will be on Christian dating for women. Woo hoo! Servant Books has published popular Catholic authors such as Christopher West and the Hahns. I am so thrilled to be working with a professional publisher and look forward to sharing my lessons learned with you through the book.

Summer Weddings
In addition to moving into our first home this summer, my husband and I are going out of state for many weddings this season.

One of the weddings might not have happened had my husband not urged the guy to try online dating two years ago. So – if you are on the fence about online dating, and really want to find that special someone, I urge you to give it a try. Not everyone has the good fortune of meeting someone at a party or social gathering these days, so give it a shot if you are looking. Of course, be safe and meet in a public place. Remember that it is easy to open up too quickly through email and be smart…but also be open to the adventure. You may meet someone from out of town who can tell you interesting stories about a different region or country.

Reasons For Singles To Attend Weddings

Also, if you are single and not feeling too excited about attending summer weddings…get excited! I remember loathing weddings when I was single because 1) I was alone and didn’t know who to go with, 2) I was usually sad over a recent break up, 3) for some reason, watching a friend get married in the midst of my own torturous search made me over-emotional.

Now I realize that weddings are really great for singles for many reasons. For one thing, the homilist will remind you of what marriage really is and isn’t. Homilists will usually mention how marriage can be a lot of hard work and how not every day will be a great day. That’s a priceless reality check for singles in my view…especially when the bride looks stunning and the wedding day is normally a very happy occasion.

It is easy for people to think, “Oh, I won’t get married unless the person makes me deliriously happy all of the time.” The rationale is that they do not want to get married just to get married. Well, nobody will make you happy all of the time. There is usually a period in the beginning of a relationship when you have butterflies and a blissful feeling, but it’s unrealistic to expect that to be there at all times.

Attending weddings might also help you make decisive choices when it is your turn. If you attend a large, five-hour wedding reception and feel drained and like you need to press your reset button afterwards, you’ll probably want to do something different for your wedding. On the other hand, if you think it was the greatest party ever and were energized by it, you’ll know that much of your budget will go towards a large reception.

It can also help you learn things by friendly conversation rather than by lengthy research projects. For instance, the bride over the weekend chose a stunning royal blue as her accent color. The flowers at the reception were a blend of white, blue, and violet. Blue is the hardest color flower to buy. So, had I been single, and dreamed of using blue for my wedding, I might have chatted with the bride about her flowers and taken notes for myself. It could save time later!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My story in Easter edition of Our Sunday Visitor

So, I was enjoying my Sunday afternoon when a man called me from New York. He said something about my conversion story appearing in the April 12, 2009 issue of Our Sunday Visitor. I was like, "Huh, what?" I had no idea. They didn't tell me it was going to appear.

But, sure enough, mine was one of four to appear.

You can see it in their special Easter edition on their website. Mine is entitled "Relationship bears fruit"

I am trying to locate a paper edition now. Let me know if you can send me one.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Heart of Gold

I am currently writing a book proposal for a book idea: REALITY CHECK: A Christian Woman’s REAL Guide to Catching a Husband. I originally made it a “Catholic Woman’s Guide,” but realized that it would be helpful to Christian women in general. I am a Catholic convert anyway, so I can relate to other Christians too – not just Catholics.

What a Herculean task when I also work full time!

I’m working on the introductory chapter, where I discuss how a near-death experience made me question the dating advice I was getting in the Catholic and Christian worlds. I thought it was interesting that I was inspired to write about this around Good Friday.

I was dating a man who met the “check list.” He was a daily Mass goer, had a good career, a college education, was attractive, and willing to support a family structure where his wife would spend time at home with young children some day. These are all great things, and I assumed that anyone who was as religious and responsible as him would automatically have good character. I thought it was a packaged deal.

The truth is that when you are on your deathbed, or struggling to get through a serious illness, some universal truths come into focus. In those moments, you want to be with someone who has a heart of gold…someone who will be generous, caring, patient, and steadfast. Many of us love to discuss doctrinal purity, the demands of chastity, the virtues of daily Mass and weekly confession, and which leading theologian is more orthodox. When you think you are dying, and are in extreme pain…those things fade into the background. I did not care so much that my boyfriend was a daily communicant when I was sick – I just wanted to know that I could rely on him.

I couldn’t rely on him. Although I was only ill for about two weeks, it was too much of an inconvenience for him. He grew resentful when I asked him for favors. He worked a few blocks from my residence. My parents lived 20-30 miles away. I thought he would want to help me, but his faith didn’t necessarily translate into actions.

It was clear that he had a heart of fool’s gold. My doctor and father both said that the illness may have been a blessing in disguise. You want to know if someone can handle the marriage vows “in sickness and in health,” right?

An art teacher I had told me that it was not unheard of for spouses to leave when their husband or wife came down with a serious illness. She knew a woman who got cancer and her husband left her the day after the diagnosis. I was stunned, because I know my mom and dad would never be capable of such a thing, but it happens.

You want a husband with a heart of gold. Yes – the checklists can play a role in selecting a mate, but when the true tests come, it won’t be going through the motions, big paychecks, or popularity contests that matter. You’ll want someone who is really a good person deep down.

My story also reminds me of Father Walter Ciszek, a priest held in Russian concentration camps. He wrote a book, “He Leadeth Me.” I remember thinking that it differed from other religious books because he focused on many bedrock principles. He still treasured his priesthood and held Mass even when the penalty was death, but it was clear that his suffering burned any pettiness away from his being.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Online Dating From a Girl’s Perspective…

When someone talks about “online dating”, they are likely to get a variety of responses from others. It could be, “Oh, I had a horrible experience online! I just don’t do that anymore.” Or, it could be “Hmmm I tried it once.” If the person is older, they may think that only losers try dating online. The truth is that many people will not admit to loading a profile online, but it is becoming the most popular way of meeting someone special.

I think most people would prefer to meet someone in person, but since that does not always happen on our schedule, putting some eggs in the online dating basket isn’t a bad idea. Heck, I met my husband online…and it was not the only socializing I did. I just got tired of meeting the same people at local social events. I had combed my cosmopolitan city for years and just did not click with anyone.

“Online dating is the wave of the future,” one man I dated said. He added, “People get home from work and they are tired. Online dating enables them to do a more thorough search than any other way of dating. It saves time.” While you may go out to a Theology on Tap and naturally stick by your friends, online dating forces you to chat with guys who are available and looking. So in that sense, it’s really productive.

There is a certain practicality to online dating. For instance, I used to reside next door to the Capitol in Washington DC. We all know that there are plenty of young staffers there. How was I supposed to meet any of them if I did not work in the same buildings myself? I tended to meet these people randomly in restaurants around the Hill, but honestly would have preferred a quick email introduction first!

That’s because the Hill guys were rather bold. Some walked up to me as I was eating at a restaurant or picking up lunch. Sometimes, they would seat themselves next to me. One asked, “When guys do this, do you tolerate it?” I did, when I was looking, but it could be rather startling. In this day and age, people are not as accustomed to that kind of a thing.

Another time, a Republican staffer flagged me down as I was ordering lunch and had the nerve to invite me on a pricey vacation with him. I said, “no, thank you,” but as payback for refusing, he left the conversation on a rude and insulting note. This was in a public place!

So, online dating offers you some protections against the wiliness of bold men. There are pitfalls to online dating too though. People often misrepresent themselves slightly without trying. When typing their profile, they strive to put their best foot forward, which is well and good, but in the process, they describe the person they want to be rather than the person they truly are. They think, “This is the best version of myself.” That is great, but if they are not the best version of themselves more than 75% of the time, people are going to get an unexpected surprise. This best foot forward gone awry scenario happens to the best of us, so it’s really something to be wary of in your own profile as well as others.

For a woman, the trap is simply trying to be that ideal woman that every man wants. Well, the real deal is that there is no ideal woman that every man wants. I do think that many men would prefer to marry a woman who knows how to cook and is neat and tidy. For example, I knew a guy who broke up with a woman because he could not stand her messy apartment, and my husband says he wanted a wife who could cook. But, don’t say you are a fabulous cook and a neat freak on your profile if you are not. Sure, you may want to learn to cook, but if you have not yet, be sure not to mix up present and future.

From my experience, if profiles are inaccurate, it’s because people accidentally misrepresented themselves. There was no true malice. But yes, there are bad people out there who do it on purpose. The only thing I have to say on this is to make sure you use your “street skills” online and don’t trust too quickly. No amount of security from an online dating company will completely protect you from people who do not have your best interests at heart.

Here are three quick archetypes for women to avoid. They are valid on both Catholic and non-Catholic dating sites.

The Anti-Social Socialite: I remember a type of man I met a few times online who was really into writing long letters to lady friends but who never displayed an interest in anything more. If you become friends with a man who writes you for more than 2-3 months max without mentioning a phone call or in person visit, ditch him! They are wasting your time and as a Catholic, I just can’t believe in the validity of online marriages. This relationship will not lead anywhere and the constant writing without real contact creates a false sense of intimacy.

The Real Socialite: Some guys are really just out there to play the field and don’t care how the ladies feel about that. If they tell you this up-front, be sure to communicate your expectations to this guy. Otherwise, he could end up dating and kissing a ton of girls at one time. So, if you hit a point when you think the relationship should be exclusive, tell him that. If he won’t agree, you have to decide to either set him loose, or remain one of many love interests and keep it low key and casual.

The Sugar Daddy: This is a classic type and yes, he exists! The guy who showers you with expensive gifts and trips almost immediately expects “something” in return. Even if he is Catholic and says he is into chastity, watch out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What Does It Mean To Grow Outside of Yourself?

A young lady who read one of my articles asked me to further explain my statement that finding a good spouse can mean “growing outside of yourself.” What does that mean? I’ll attempt to unpack that statement here.

Ideally, Catholic women want to find a Catholic man with good character, of course. It doesn't always fall into place like a puzzle though...sometimes there is work and compromise involved. This reality is not always discussed in the Catholic literature, but real life is oftentimes messier than idealized dating guidelines! Keep in mind that the majority of the “courtship” books sold to Catholic singles at events are written by people who have never been married or by clergy. I believe these intellects are genuinely trying to be helpful, but much of the advice is simply too idealistic to be applied to real life 100% of the time.

A snapshot of real life looks like this: I used to help with RCIA classes, and many people become Catholic because they are inspired by a girlfriend or boyfriend. Just because one person was not Catholic didn't mean that Jesus wasn't there. I became Catholic because a former boyfriend introduced me to the faith in a positive manner. My husband became more interested in the faith, largely because of his relationship with me. Jesus acts through people who love Him and none of us is a finished piece of work.

Further, stats say there are MORE practicing Catholic women than men. Some Catholic women will marry men who are powerhouses of faith when they meet them, others won't. Still, others will choose to remain single and commiserate with their friends over their single status forever. There is a choice to be made...and sometimes that involves choosing to be realistic after a certain age and settling on some things to marry, OR choosing to be a "secular sister" of sorts and live independently. Most women who email me about this topic don’t feel called to religious life or celibacy. They feel called to marriage and are following the advice they get, but something isn’t working. They can’t find a lasting connection with someone who is a “suitable spouse.”

Sometimes, our own thought patterns can block us from finding a suitable spouse. Have you considered that maybe God is putting someone who is suitable in your path…but you are too rigid in your thinking to see him? “Reaching outside of yourself” can be the missing link.

When things aren't perfect in a relationship (they typically are not)...that's when people "reach outside of themselves." There are usually gaps between ourselves and others that need to be bridged to form a long term relationship that works. For instance, even though I identified myself as a "conservative" or "orthodox Catholic" when I was single and going to faith-based events, I usually found that there were one of two things that I disagreed on with other Catholics who identified themselves the same exact way. People are just that way... they differ.

A lot of the people I know who are unhappily single get overly bent out of shape when they realize that someone close to them or a prospective partner doesn't agree with everything they think up. Surprise! That's just life...and if someone really wants to get married and hasn’t been in luck, it's best to find ways of constructively dealing with that "gap" that exists with everyone. People who can't tolerate any differences can remain alone, and nit-pick everyone and everything. Of course, the caveat to compromise is always that everyone has a limit and it’s wise to know what it is.

The benefit to reaching outside yourself is that it makes for a wiser, more well-rounded, compassionate individual. It’s a strong and loving way to live rather than fearful. When you put yourself in someone else's shoes, try to understand another perspective on the world, another person's just makes you a better person. It's worth it to learn to peacefully co-exist with people who have minor differences of opinion.

Consequently, people in happy partnerships tend to have stronger immune systems! Neither me or my husband have been sick since we got married in June and I used to regularly get sick during the cold months!

So anyway--I hope this was helpful.