On Writing To One's (Future) Spouse

On Writing To One's (Future) Spouse

In reply to my Loras Odyssey colleague Clare

My Loras Odyssey colleague Clare recently wrote a beautiful piece about her practice of writing letters to her future husband. As it happens, I also started writing letters to my own future spouse at age 18, and I’d like to expand on Clare’s account of the good that I’ve found can come from writing such letters.

Clare writes of the letters: “[they] challenged me to form an opinion on what type of man I wanted to spend my life with” and “provided me with standards and expectations.” “Instead of blindly moving forward,” she writes, “I had a vision for my future.” This matches my experience, and it makes a kind of obvious sense: when you set out to discern what should be true of the person you’ll marry, it will affect how you date. Proactively sorting out your priorities can help you to constructively second-guess attractions to people who wouldn’t be good for you and to give second thoughts to good people who might not initially stir your interest.

In my experience, the vision that one clarifies through writing these letters goes beyond the qualities of one’s future spouse. Clare writes that she “pray[s] that [her] future self will reflect morals and high standards.” Such prayer is good, but to take a page from the Benedictines, prayer is best joined with work. (I’m not saying that Clare doesn’t work on her character – I trust that she does – but she doesn’t discuss it in her piece.)

Even more than envisioning the good qualities that I’ll seek in a future spouse, writing these letters has helped me to identify places where my own character and habits need work, and to recognize the importance of tackling my flaws sooner rather than later. From my first letter I’ve been brutally honest about my own character flaws, so that my wife will know the truth about my moral development from the time I started taking the prospect of marriage seriously. (Unlike in earlier stages of dating, when one wonders how much to share one’s secrets, withholding anything significant from the letters is clearly deceitful and can only work to sabotage one’s marriage.)

Envisioning myself as a husband and father has helped me to take seriously my flaws and the value of proactively rooting them out. For instance: growing up, I would eat burgers and fries and drink sodas as often as I could, but since those were rarely stocked at home I’d only get to eat that badly once or twice a week. When I got to college, I was suddenly able to have a burger and fries and two cups of soda and a cookie (oh, and maybe also a cup of juice or piece of fruit) for most meals. The soul-searching involved in writing my early letters caused me to recognize my diet as a moral issue, and for the sake of my health and my habits I soon turned to healthier options. Keeping my prospective future marriage in mind drove me to quickly improve my diet, not only because good physical health would likely improve my marriage’s health but because it would be best to ground myself in good self-controlled practices for as long as possible before marrying, as a gift to my wife. (Additionally, it’s best to start working against bad habits and moral flaws right away because you don’t necessarily know how deeply-rooted your vices might be – as I’ve found in other areas.)

Of course, the idea of ‘settling down’ even far before marrying is not vogue or widespread: capitalism has no general incentive to promote high-minded living over a boozier, more status-haunted style of twentysomething existence. And it’s possible to take up responsible living in a way that needlessly rules out legitimate delights that are much more easily accessible before marriage and children: looking back on one of my early letters, I realize just how hilariously averse I was to alcohol. (This summer I met up with two friends I’d hardly seen since my sophomore year; when I told them about my social drinking later in college, one of them told me: “Christian, I was afraid you’d never do college things. I’m so proud of you!”)

It’s also possible to lean too exclusively on the prospect of marriage as a crutch for character-building. Unfortunately, some of the communities that most promote premarital responsibility (and thus practices like writing letters to one’s future spouse) tend to cast marriage as a necessary aspect of real maturity. During my freshman year I started leaning on advice from such a community; when I became Catholic during my sophomore year and realized that I could be called to a single vocation rather than marriage, my main practical motivation for personal reform – the certainty that I would marry someday and must therefore improve myself now – was kicked out from under me, and I’ve never entirely recovered my intense drive from my freshman year.

Yet I trust that if one keeps these pitfalls in mind, one can avoid the kinds of errors that I made. And despite my errors, I’m still really glad for the fruit that writing letters has borne in my life. If you’re single and seek to be married, I invite you to at least consider taking up the practice for yourself!

Cover Image Credit: 7day.co

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.


So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?



Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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5 Reasons Why I Don't Want Kids

Procreating. It's not for everyone.


My cousin had a baby last August. She's absolutely beautiful and I love her to death, but she doesn't change my mind when it comes to wanting kids when I'm older. Truth is, I don't want kids. I'm sure everyone says this at some point in their life, and maybe I will change my mind in the future, but kids kind of freak me out.

Maybe I'm just not the most maternal person, but here's why having kids, at least for now, isn't on my bucket list.

1. Giving birth.

I know, I know, it's a beautiful thing, the miracle of life or whatever, but go watch a birthing video and then come tell me how beautiful it really is. Everything from a woman's water breaking, to actually giving birth just grosses me out, to be honest.

The thought of having to push something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon is just absolutely terrifying. I have a pretty average to above average pain tolerance, but no matter how well you can deal with pain, that shit is obviously not a pleasant experience.

2. The responsibility.

You have to do everything for babies, literally everything. Feed it, dress it, wash it, change it, put it to sleep, and you have to know what a baby wants when it wants it. If I had a baby and it started to cry, I would have no idea what to do. I know plenty of people say that once you have the baby, you automatically know which type of crying is for what need, but that makes no sense to me.

Do babies have different types of cries? How do you know which is which?

I consider myself a pretty responsible person when it comes time to be accountable for myself, but to be accountable for another life form?

I'll put it this way. I have two pet turtles. We got them when I was about twelve or so years old, and I remember being obsessed with them. That lasted for like maybe two weeks, and then I got bored with them, which meant I didn't take care of them. My parents did. Not the best analogy for obvious reasons, but I'm sure you understand what I'm trying to say. In other words, if I can barely take care of a pet, how would I ever be able to take care of a small human?

3. Kids are messy and loud.

Look, I'm not like a total clean freak or anything like that, but my mother definitely is. She used to disinfect sticks so my sister and I could roast marshmallows when we went camping for Girl Scouts. My point is, it's been drilled into my brain that everything has to be wiped down clean, and germs are not my friends.

I hate being around sick people; they freak me out, especially since I get sick so easily. If my baby or child were to get sick, I'd obviously still have to take care of it, which means wiping snot, cleaning vomit, and getting coughed on. I guarantee you, as soon as my child were to get better, I'd get sick.

Don't even get me started on changing dirty diapers.

Also, if there's anything I've learned from my cousin's baby thus far, it's that babies put everything in their mouths. Any object on the ground, their hands, and feet; nothing is safe. Babies don't understand sanitation, so it's not their fault, but I just know that if I had a kid, it would be in a plastic bubble so it could remain as clean as possible.

Babies are also very loud. Back when I worked at a diner, we used to have customers with little kids and babies all the time. If the kid was unhappy for any reason, that child would scream its head off. I never understood how such a big noise could come from such a small human.

4. Kids are expensive AF.

Kids are not cheap. They have an entire laundry list of stuff that needs to be bought for them, and they run out of supplies frequently. I can't imagine how much money people spend on things like diapers, formula, and clothes. Speaking of clothes, babies grow out things quickly. You get one or two good uses of an outfit and that's it. They outgrow it, and they can no longer use it.

Then, as they get older, you've got to think about school, eventually college, and extracurricular activities that they want to do, gifts for Christmas and other holidays. I say all of this, realizing how much my own parents have spent on me and my siblings (thanks, Mom and Dad).

5. Raising kids looks hard.

Knowing how much my sisters and I were pains in the asses for my parents, I can't imagine having to deal with that crap myself. The whole idea of shaping a child into a fully functioning member of society with good morals and conscience sounds like a lot of work.

There have been so many times where I would be at work and I'd have to deal with customers that have their kids with them, and these children are the biggest brats I've ever seen. Rude, disrespectful, obnoxious or disruptive; just the opposite of how kids should act in any public setting.

A big part of the reason I wouldn't want kids is that I see other people's kids and the way they act. It makes me just want to yell at the parents. At least I know that if I do ever decide to have kids, they'll be raised the way I want them to be and they'll behave the way they're supposed to. Appropriately.

In the big picture of things, whether or not you want kids is up to you. It's not meant for everyone and that's not the end of the world. I always get told that I don't mean it when I say I don't want kids, which isn't that big of a deal, but it can get annoying. In my opinion, if a person says they don't want kids, it's not because they think kids are like some evil being or anything like that. It's because they know their limits.

Growing a family is an amazing thing, but it's also different for everyone. No one should be judged for not liking or wanting to have kids. Everyone has different opinions. This one is just mine.


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