Today I present you with a three part post because that is the mood I am in.
It strikes me that the wrong men are worried about how much money they make and what women think of it all. Young men, the ones who wish to marry young women, should indeed plot and scheme to get a good job with opportunities for career advancement so that they will be able to support a wife and family.
Yes, most young women are also interested in getting good jobs with opportunities for career advancement, but most young women are also interested in having babies. If they are devout Catholic women, they are usually going to have babies sooner rather than later. This will take them out of the work force for months or years, and someone has to pay the bills.
But middle-aged men, the ones who wish to marry middle-aged women, should stop worrying so much about how much money they have because middle-aged women don't worry so much about that ourselves. If we are still Single, we are used to supporting ourselves anyway. And if we don't have children, we know that we are unlikely to have more than one or two at this point. And at this point, we just want someone to lean on, to leave parties with and to love. Middle-aged women have more confidence than young women, so we are less worried about "being taken advantage of". So what if we work 9-5 and he just potters around his pottery kiln, selling the odd figurine to the odd tourist? So what? Who cares? If he's kind and funny and attractive, that's enough for us. The older I get, the more looks seem to matter.
I'm not touching the subject of young men who wish to marry older women and of middle-aged men who wish to marry young women because that's two whole other blog posts.
I think long engagements are stupid and cruel. If you are so much in love with with somebody that you want to marry him/her, you probably want to sleep with him/her. Sexual passion is one of the strongest forces known to man, so it is really hard to keep it bottled up. It is easier to keep it bottled up if you know the exact date drinks may be served.
For the record, the "Priest must be informed one year before the wedding" instruction in parish bulletins is cruel, uncanonical and unenforceable. Ever since I was an undergrad I noticed that the most pious Catholics got married in a matter of months. They would call up a priest-uncle or priest-cousin or priest-pal and have a nice little wedding in record time. It was the more lackadaisical Catholics, or half-Catholic, half-nothing couples who dated for a very long time and then were engaged for a very long time. These couples would be mainly concerned about "the hall." Never mind the diocese and its stupid "One Year" rule (which you can challenge, btw, as it is uncanonical). Some couples were willing to wait two years for the perfect hall of their dreams.
When I was younger and as innocent as a newborn lamb, I was surprised at the pious for their unseemly haste and impressed by the couples who could patiently wait for so long. Now I am a woman of the world, and know that although the pious were dying to have sex, the not-as-pious were often already having it.
Nancy Mitford joked about the size of an engagement ring being the measure of how much a man thought your virtue was worth. This suggests that even in the 1920s, engaged couples were sleeping together. And I believe there are parts of Italy where it is so assumed an engaged couple are sleeping together, that bickering couples marry and divorce rather than just break off the engagement, for otherwise the woman's reputation would be ruined.
So I am not throwing stones at engaged couples who sleep together, the love-struck little poppets. I just think they should get married ASAP if the temptation is that bad. And obviously they'll have to go to confession first.
Meanwhile, B.A. and I tried to strong-arm my parish priest into marrying us in four months after I first talked to the priest. He looked at my annulment papers and quailed. The marriage tribunal wrote somewhere or other that I'd better know the next guy I married real well. The priest looked at me hopefully when he mentioned this. We got married six months after I talked to him. There was no stupid hall. The reception was in my parents' house. I got a priest-pal to say the Mass.
I love to say that I don't believe in single men's words--I believe only in their diamonds. I figured unless there was a ring and unless he had told his mother, an engagement wasn't real. But now I am upping the ante and saying an engagement isn't really real unless there is a wedding date.
In general it is stupid to sleep with someone unless you're married to him or at least there is a clear,fixed and widely-known wedding date. Men in general are so terrified of marriage, they either have to be promised something really good in order to go through with it or be terrified of what their mothers will do if they don't.
A girl might think religious men exempt from this because religious men are very pro-marriage and want nothing more than to please God by getting married, so seducing a religious guy is the way forward. But no.
It is my humble opinion that if a man really is that into you, there's not much you can do to dissuade him from marrying you, short of cheating on him or killing something or someone. So merely sleeping with your devoutly Catholic fiance will probably not ruin the whole relationship, although obviously it is a mortal sin, so you ought not to do it.
However, there are certainly a lot of religious men who would be so personally devastated at having committed a mortal sin with their girlfriends that they will never see their girlfriends the same way ever again. In fact, they might even consider it virtuous to break up with those satanic temptresses so as to marry pure girls, girls who have not gotten in the way of their primary relationship with God.
It is always a good idea to seem even more chaste than your chaste Catholic boyfriend, even if inwardly you are a volcano of lust. You know you are, and your best friend knows you are, and I know you are, but he doesn't know you are, and that's fine. By appearing as pure as a bowl of vanilla ice cream, at least next to him, you are inspiring him to be good, a better man than he is, etc., etc.
I am sure there are all kinds of depressing examples that you will now write in about your boyfriends to whom you were angels of purity and light who ditched you for flashing-eyed bad girls with roses in their teeth. But in general I would say to be particularly sensitive to the hopes and beliefs of deeply religious men and don't try to tempt them into things for which they will later be very angry with you.
I have found "Don't touch the hottie" to be a particularly effective mantra.