There’s no denying that we live in a culture that is typically in harsh contrast to traditional Catholic morality, especially when it comes to dating. It’s hard to find any role models when it comes to living a Catholic lifestyle in today’s culture.
I recently stumbled upon a Reddit thread discussing this very topic. A single Catholic female Reddit user was expressing her worry that she didn’t really know what a healthy Catholic dating relationship looked like, because she had seen so few.
That Reddit user is not alone in desiring good role models but coming up short. It’s important to have role models in all areas of our life, including our dating life!
We look to examples in many other areas of life to guide us in the right course. We might have people we look up to professionally, when it comes to our careers. Hopefully, we have some good priests or other strong Catholics in our lives that inspire us toward general everyday holiness.
But we might not realize how important it is to have Catholic couples we can look to. It’s important to have a good example about how to have a healthy outlook on relationships. Here’s why we should make finding such couple role models a priority, and how to go about finding them.
“Nearly everyone I know lived together before marriage…”
Looking for role models to inspire you as you strive for the virtue of chastity in your relationship? It may be frustrating to find that most couples lived together before they tied the knot.
Before my husband and I were married, I worked for almost a year as a Starbucks barista. There was no Catholic (or even vaguely Christian) co-workers in sight. My then-fiancé and I didn’t live together. I can still remember one woman I worked with expressing complete shock when she discovered this.
“You don’t live together? Are you going to live together after your married?” she asked me in utter confusion. I held in my laughter and told her that we would most definitely be living together after getting married.
The cultural norms of premarital sex and cohabitation are rampant these days. It can feel like we’re being radical, maybe even unreasonable, to expect chastity of ourselves and our significant others.
This is why good Catholic couple role models are so important. Being around others who are living chastity as God intended can make all difference for us when we begin to weary of being counter-cultural for the sake of our souls.
If we are truly missing the chance of seeing others living a holy, chaste relationship, it might start to feel like it’s inevitable that we ourselves will fail when we attempt it.
Falling into an “unhealthy way of thinking”
It can seem sometimes that the culture conditions us. You may find yourself wondering if Catholic relationships are worth it, or if everyone else only has “one thing” on their mind when it comes to dating.
We’ve all heard this phrase before. It can work the other way as well. Some good men fall into the trap of thinking that the women they date are expecting sex.
If we become too conditioned to thinking that this is the way it always is, it will be hard find Catholic role models devoted to chaste living who are out there. We might start finding ourselves suspicious of others’ motives and intentions at every turn.
Observing and spending time with good Catholic couples won’t completely get rid of this problem, especially since it will still sometimes be true that the person you’re attracted to merely wants to use you for sex.
But healthy, holy role models will help. Seeing them can serve as a reminder that it’s possible to find someone good and holy, who wants to help you become better and holier.
But can we find good role models?
If good Catholic couple role models were abundant and easy to find, we wouldn’t really be facing the problems that cultural conditioning can cause in our outlook.
So how do we go about finding a Catholic couple who is dating or married, and who are committed to chastity?
There are a few places you can turn. Getting involved with ministry at your parish might expose you to married couples of a variety of ages, and you’re likely to find some good examples of holy relationships among them.
If you’re in a younger demographic, you might try getting involved in a young adult group or attending events at a Newman Center on a college campus near you. Even if the other couples you come across are married, that in and of itself is counter-cultural to the hookup culture we’re often surrounded by.
What to do when finding role models near you proves difficult
Practically speaking, it’s not always possible to locate and befriend other Catholic couples in person. Sometimes there legitimately aren’t any around us, or it might not be possible to connect with the ones you do find on a personal, friendly level.
That’s okay. There are still other places to turn for inspiration and hope.
If you think I’m going to recommend looking to the saints, you’re right. There are probably not many modern examples of holy romantic relationships among the saints, but even reading about couples from a century or more ago (i.e. Saint Therese’s parents Louis and Zelie Martin) can be inspiring and uplifting.
Beyond the saints, we can actually even look to a few “famous” examples of Catholic couples in our own day and age.
Catholic actor David Henrie married prolife chastity speaker Maria Cahill. NFL star Philip Rivers is an outspoken Catholic married to his high school sweetheart with a bunch of kids.
In the online Catholic ministry world, we can find examples like Jackie and Bobby Angel.
So don’t despair, even when it seems like everywhere you look there is no one to look up to. Know that you’re not alone in your quest for a holy relationship.