Divorce runs in my family, so I don’t want to get married. Is that okay?

I do not think that you are opposed to marriage; you are just afraid of getting a divorce. There is a big difference. I would imagine that the desire to give yourself completely to another and to receive the total gift of another is still in your heart. But because of the marriages you have seen, you have an understandable fear that a love like this is out of your reach. Do not be afraid.

While it is fine never to marry and to live the single or religious life instead, look at your intentions for avoiding marriage. Each vocation is a calling, and each requires courage, love, and sacrifice. God may call you to the married life and ask you to trust him despite all the failed marriages you have seen. Just as there has been a rash of broken marriages in your family, perhaps God plans on using you to turn the tide for future generations. There is no reason why you need to follow in your parents’ footsteps when you can make the decision to love so that your kids will want to follow in yours.

If we want a great marriage, we need to start building love’s foundation now. Unfortunately, most people seem to spend more time preparing for their wedding than they do for their marriage. If we start disciplining ourselves now, we will have a firm foundation on which to build a lifelong love.

This is what I mean by preparation. While in high school I spent countless hours in batting cages. On one afternoon I hit thirty-eight consecutive rounds with the eighty-mile-per-hour pitching machine—which adds up to 684 swings. When I finished, my body was sore and I had blood blisters on my hands, but I did not mind because it was a time of serious training. You could have told me this was “repressive” training and that I should free myself from it, but it was not. I had a goal in mind. When I made my college baseball team as a freshman, I thought I had reached my goal, but the training had just begun. We would practice six or seven days a week for several hours at a time (not including games). This preparation was essential if we ever hoped to have a successful season.

Unfortunately, some couples spend less time getting ready for a lifetime of marriage than we spent preparing for a few months of baseball. If I wanted a good batting average, I would train myself to read a pitcher and hit his curve. If we want successful marriages, we need to train ourselves in the virtues that hold marriage together: humility, servanthood, purity, honesty, faithfulness, and so on. Begin fostering these virtues in your life now, and you will have more confidence in the hope of a lasting love. Then, if God chooses to call you to a vocation other than marriage, you will have the peace of knowing that you did not avoid marriage because of fear but embraced another vocation because you heard his voice and followed it.

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