By the time you have turned forty, you know a thing or two about dating, especially about dating in the Catholic world. You have learned a ton at this age. You have gained wisdom; you have also taken a few spills. You have had a few victories. Your character has matured. And you may have gone on quite a few dates with quite a few Catholic gentlemen or ladies.
What do you know? You know a lot in a lot of different areas. Here are the top pieces of knowledge that Catholics in their forties know about dating.
You may or may not get married in life…
By the time you hit forty, and you are still single, you have witnessed many events. Many of your friends got married at the age of 26 or right out of college. Many of them have between five to eight children by now. Some of you may have even witnessed some of your young nieces or nephews get married. This happened to me. I joyfully attended my 22-year-old nephew’s wedding in Washington, DC the summer before last.
But the truth of the matter is that God is with me. As a Catholic Christian, I have a relationship with Him. Life with Him is an adventure. I talk to Him daily in prayer. He strengthens me, He consoles me, He stretches me, and He has surprises in store for you—ways he wants to strengthen your character, ways he wants you to change, ways He wants you to grow, ways He wants you to let Him love you.
…but God is in control and life is a wonderful adventure
And so if I don’t get married, I can still be happy because I am loved by God. He has a plan for my life, He will bring good out of my life, and He will put people in my life who love me. So I definitely will not be without love.
And if I do get married, I know God is my first love. My husband will be a close second, but God is first. It has to be this way. To love anything or anyone before God is to worship an idol. We were made for God and we will be returning to God. We will live with God for eternity in heaven. And if you haven’t learned this lesson yet, God will teach you this lesson, because He is jealous of your love.
You want to encourage others in your forties
By the time you have reached forty, you are more confident in yourself and your own gifts. You see yourself as a daughter of God. You know that no man will complete you. You know that life is full of hills and valleys. God brings us through the valleys.
I once heard a Protestant preacher say that there are two possible situations in life, you either need to be encouraged or you need to be encouraging others. Be a source of hope for others.
You have grown in grace and mercy by the time you are forty
You realize you are a sinner as is everyone else on the planet. You realize you are deeply in need of redemption by Christ. But that His amazing grace covers all. You realize Jesus can heal you and others of the wounds you have endured through either your own sin or the sin of others.
This is a wonderful thing, as it means that you are able to receive God’s goodness and forgive yourself but also forgive others. And as we know in the dating world, we all have a past, we all have made mistakes. But Christ’s grace makes all things new.
This includes healing for those who have had broken marriages, who have been hurt in relationships, for those who have married and annulled, and for those who have lost spouses through death. Jesus Christ makes all things new.
You realize the wisdom of the Church in terms of theology of the body
This means you say no to living together before marriage and to sex before marriage even if it means being alone instead of being in a relationship. Even if it means being alone for the rest of your life because you are never really alone.
We all know that the Church teaches this and we all know that birth control is a lie. We all know that birth control changes the pheromones of attraction so that you can actually be attracted to and marry the wrong person.
So that when you go off of birth control to have a child in marriage, you may not actually be attracted to your partner. That’s a lie of the enemy. It won’t make us happy, especially if our goal is to be in a lifelong loving sacramental relationship with someone who loves us and with someone we love. And attraction is part of the picture—a very good part.
By the time you are forty, you know a thing or two about what makes a good marriage. You also have friends or acquaintances in the Catholic circles that are living together or intimate and they are in bad relationships, relationships that are verbally abusive or not good in other ways. No one wants a marriage like that. The Church has so much wisdom in this area. We need to listen to listen to and live the wisdom of the Church.
The choices—and the field—may broaden, surprisingly
You may want to consider becoming open to dating someone with an annulment, a widower, someone with children, or someone living in a different geographic area.
In your forties, the pool of never-been-married adults gets smaller so it may be a good idea to prayerfully consider if God is calling you to be open to someone who has been married before and is annulled or has lost a spouse through death. Perhaps you have never considered dating someone with children. You may want to prayerfully consider if perhaps you could date someone with children.
Perhaps you may want to consider marrying someone in a different geographic area.
I had a friend in Chicago who had moved here from Arizona to try to meet someone. She didn’t meet someone here but did meet someone in Texas at a Catholic Singles Conference. She moved to Texas after they married and she is very happy and the couple has a child now.
Every person is different and every situation is different. But God works in mysterious ways.
Looking forward really does help see how far you’ve come
You realize God has given you an awesome live, plenty of gifts, opportunities to travel, opportunities to serve, even as a single person. In your forties, you can look back in your life and see God’s hand.
I see how He allowed me to serve in a pro-life ministry for thirteen years, counseling women in difficult situations. I see how he has allowed me to participate in RCIA, in music ministry, and in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
I see how he has given me plenty of friends through the Catholic young adults’ group in Chicago. I have been fortunate to attend World Youth Days in Canada and Spain, witnessing the internationalism of the Catholic Church there. I have seen the world.
I see the gifts He has blessed me with—analytical skills, empathy, the gift of playing the violin, friends and family, nieces and nephews. I have lived in Italy and Japan. I have taken two years of watercolor painting classes and writing classes. God is so good.
So to sum it up, “God has made all things beautiful in His time.” Being forty is fabulous.