Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Frank Talk on Money, Long Engagements & Religious Guys

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.


Sarah said...

Ick. If the guy I'm with is the kind of guy who would dump me because WE slept TOGETHER (nevermind the type that would be upset that I had slept with another man before him), and I am therefore impure, a temptress and in all other ways despicable, he is NOT the kind of man I want to marry, anyway. Ugh, ugh, ugh. The very idea of marrying such a man could give me a bloody nose.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Well, yes, but some men really are still like that and they can't really help it, like when they like some girl in the beginning but she comes on really too strong and they lose interest because it is too much too soon.

I know Shakespeare's world is not our world, but there is a very famous poem about this: http://nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet/page_238.html

sciencegirl said...

To be fair, I thought Seraphic was talking about religious men who are seduced, rather than ones who seduce their girlfriends or end up sleeping together out of the same degree of mutual passion. There are women who deliberately try to pressure their religious boyfriends to sleep with them; some of them get dumped, but some of them must succeed. A certain proportion of these seductions may backfire.

Of those that backfire, some may be the "Oh no! What have I done? Obviously, you are bad for me, so I need to avoid temptation and find someone who improves my relationship with God instead of trying to subvert it." Others may be the "What have I been missing out on? So much time have I wasted on chastity. What other girls can I sleep with? See ya!"

I think that both scenarios probably involved weaknesses in the relationships already. For one thing, if one person is setting out to get another person to go against his or her values, there is obvious tension and a lack of respect.

What I like is (for once) the acknowledgement that people who are trying to be chaste are not saps who can be manipulated into marriage with sex.

sciencegirl said...

Also note that I am not saying I would rush to marry these kind of men; just that I get the desire to end unhealthy relationships and that, to me, unchastity is not a sign of good health!

A chaste relationship could of course be unhealthy in many other ways.

Lara said...

Volcano of lust is a great name for a band...
But, hey, I'm definitly not as pure as vanilla, so how does one have the opposite of "the talk"? Something in the lines of "You smell delicious and if you keep looking at me like this I'm going to do something stupid" without scaring Pious McPious?

Seraphic Spouse said...

Thanks, yes! That's what I was talking about.

As for the other kind of guy, one of the worst stories I ever heard involved that. I have heard a lot of Bad "Pious" Catholic Man stories, but the one I am thinking of is probably the worst. Maybe I'll tell you, but it soooo bad it might ruin everyones day.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Ah, Lara. Now there's a question for the ages.

If he's strictly off limits you leave the room, shut the door, go down to the street and yell "Taxi!"

Otherwise you look him square in the eye and say "What!?"

Domestic Diva said...

Just out of curiosity, because you're my easiest access to the answer, what IS canon law on the waiting period for marriage?

Anonymous said...

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.

Yes, but they had other issues, namely, the desire to conquer a woman without actually being noble or heroic enough to do it the noble, heroic way (i.e. put a ring on her finger).

The depressing men are the ones who are much more experienced than you, push your boundaries, then make you feel like dirt for enforcing the boundaries and/or for even wanting to kiss them. It's dehumanising, really, and you end up being the scapegoat for all of their problems.


Seraphic Spouse said...

Theobromophile, yes.

Domestic Diva, I believe the canonical waiting period is three weeks. If banns are read, they have to be read in the parish churches of the engaged couple three weeks in a row. This gives the neighbours enough to talk about it amongst themselves and alert the parish priest to any impediments, e.g. one of them is married already.

Unmarried Catholics who are over the canonical age (and the local legal age) and have no impediments (e.g. the man is a priest, the woman is a nun) have the right to be married. End of. The catch is that the priest doesn't have to marry them if they aren't registered in his parish.

Sarah said...

By the way, I like your new engagement stipulations. I have known couples who "become engaged," with a fancy proposal and a ring, and when asked when the wedding will be, and they answer with some ambiguous form of: "Oh, we don't know. Maybe in the next two years. After we're both done with college." I always think, "Oh, so dating, but with something shiny."

MaryJane said...

Side Note: Just wanted to add that "being registered" in a parish is nowhere in canon law, either. It's a Western thing that we do, but technically, (in canon law), parishes are drawn by geographic boundaries. (There are also such things as non-geographic parishes e.g., for the military or perhaps a university, but they are rare.) Thankfully, the priests who perform the marriage rite are in charge of taking care of jurisdiction issues.

Great post! I think money stuff might also depend on the person - is the wife used to a certain lifestyle or standard of living, or did she grow up pinching pennies? It will make a difference for what she expects a husband to provide.

Charming Disarray said...

"The older I get, the more looks seem to matter."

Ha ha ha. I'm only 28 and this is already happening to me.

As far as Catholic men and waiting, are any of them willing to do that except for the ones who are so far over to the other side of extreme chastity that they think hand-holding is a sin and they're so caught up and obsessed with their scrupulosity that they don't have the time or energy left over to actually date? I'm starting to doubt it. And then, of course, there are the liars, who want a nice girl who hasn't slept with anyone else but who won't make THEM wait.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Yes. There are. Fear not. Men in love have this wonderful little speech: "Okay. Of course I can wait, if that's what you want."

This speech, incidentally, is not reserved just to Catholic men. All kinds of men in love will blurt it out and bless their little hearts!

Seraphic Spouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charming Disarray said...

I'm familiar with it. I've heard it quite a few times already.

I'm sorry. I'm feeling really cynical today. And can I just come right out and say it--Catholic women who sleep with their fiances are ruining it for the rest of us by letting ALL Catholic men think it's not only okay but normal, and that puts the rest of us in a vulnerable situation.

Kate P said...

Re: "one year before the wedding"--Straight from my parish bulletin:

"All preparations must be made at least six months before the wedding day."

I like that it says "preparations."

(As a side note, I know for a fact our wise pastor has made exceptions. . . like for a couple who already had two babies together. Wedding was three months after engagement.)

I share Charming Disarray's concerns. And I am older than she is, so I'm trying even harder not to feel twice as cynical.

Anonymous said...

And then, of course, there are the liars, who want a nice girl who hasn't slept with anyone else but who won't make THEM wait.

I saw that play out in my life... over... and over... and over.

I dated men who didn't like that their exes were promiscuous. They claimed to like my chastity. They dumped me for it.

Then, I noticed - they promptly commenced long relationships with women who put out by the third date and are younger and dumber than they are. (Yep, I'm meaning to be pejorative here.)

It's a self-esteem/self-respect/something issue. If they were confident in their own abilities and worth, they wouldn't need to fake it by "conquering" an easily-conquered woman, nor complaining when a chaste woman does not immediately bend to his whims.

On a happier note, I finally started dating men who are okay with waiting - some religious, some not. (It makes up for the pastor who complained that I didn't sleep with him after a few months.)

Anonymous said...

Erg, I didn't sign that last one:


Miss Doyle said...

1 year notice is new to me - usually it's 3 months, but I always thought that they needed that amount of time to check out all of your baptism etc.. certs and that you've ticked all the right boxes. Also, most parishes in my diocese have compulsory marriage prep and several meetings with the priest. That takes time. But not one year!

Domestic Diva said...

In general, I heartily agree that engagements should be short, but I can think of one exception to the rule: the long distance relationship. I'm a fan of couples living in the same city for long enough to experience bad days, stressful times, or anything else necessary to determine if the person they've only seen on occasional weekends is truly the real deal. And since I'm a little older and established in an unusual job that is geographically dependent, I would not want to move (and give up said job) unless marriage was pretty definitely in the cards. Hypothetically, I'd like to move once engaged and have a longish engagement (a year?) before tying the knot.

But of course, once I met The One that could all change. :)

It occurs to me, Seraphic, that you married a guy you'd only seen occasionally. How could you tell that he really was who he seemed to be on the few occasions you were in person together? What made you confident enough to leave family & homeland for this guy? Especially after the events of your relationship with your ex? Sorry if this is too personal; but your marriage seems to have worked out well.

Seraphic said...

It changes from diocese to diocese.

Three months sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Sarah said...

Wait, wait wait... I'm confused. At face value, the story itself, in he way you told it, with no other information given, (before the part where he says hurting says he enjoys hurting people who love him, which is the accepted definition of "sociopath") does not register as "That Bad."

When we commit a sin, realize how wrong it is, confess it and vow to "amend our lives," isn't it our duty to say, "No, that's a sin," when the opportunity arises again? What was he supposed to do, when we are expected to resolve to "go and sin no more."

When she made the preposition, was he supposed to think, "Okay, I know it's a sin, but it'd be hypocritical of me to refuse now, so I'll do it." In what world is deciding not to have sex, with anyone, at any time, sociopathic?

Is there something I'm missing, or something you're leaving out? Cause I don't get it.

Seraphic said...

Domestic Diva, I forgot to reply to your comment. To make a short story short, we were in our late 30s and we knew exactly who we were ourselves and we got a very good measure of ech other from our mutual blogs before we met in person. Plus everybody I met in Scotland seemed to think we were absolutely perfect for each other. The peer pressure to be a couple was intense, not because BA's bachelor buds wanted him married off but because they... Actually, what was with that anyway?

Katie S. said...

Soooooo you said that the whole subject of middle-aged men and younger women was another whole blog for another day... could you maybe write that one? :) I'm really interested in your thoughts. Not specifically on the money issue, but any thoughts you have at all... what do you think about age gaps? Yes, you might guess, there is a little "situation" here...

FrB said...

In Ireland the Church & Civil requirement is three months notice before marriage. That allows time to ensure all the paperwork is in order, that the marriage prep is done & that the couple have seriously thought things through. Needless to say, exceptions can be made for serious reasons, but I think three months strikes a reasonable balance.

Caelaeno said...

Ditto Katie S. -- very interested to hear your thoughts on age gaps.

Bernadette said...

So I had this more, um, worldly friend who I think got a little tired of hearing me emote about my frustration with the glacial relationship pace some nice Catholic guys follow. She told me that what I really needed to do was just to grab the guy in question and make out with him. I tried to tell her that, while this might be a lot of fun, it would not be helpful in the long run. She didn't believe me.

And I also want to hear your thoughts on relationships with significant age gaps, particularly on women with younger men.

Seraphic said...

Okay. I will think about age gaps.

Belle said...

"I love to say that I don't believe in single men's words--I believe only in their diamonds."

Doesn't every woman understand why these are helpful words to live by? In talking with a priest friend recently, I was surprised to find that he had no concept of why an engagement ring would be important. He said he thought they were made up by jewelery companies in the early 1900s as a money-making ploy and didn't see why a ring would be important to a Catholic woman.

I tried to explain how a ring was security against possible fraud and deception, but that sounded to him like the man needing to buy her love. Placing importance on the ring as anything other than a banal tradition seemed to smack of materialism.

What can we say to men to convince them that material things like rings really do matter?

(I agree by the way, that you need a date as well as a ring to have a real engagement.)