I am engaged and looking forward to a very happy marriage. But there is one doubt in my mind that seems to cast a shadow over my happiness. Long before I met my fiancé, I fell into sin with another person.
This has long since been confessed and deeply repented. The doubt in my mind is whether I should tell my husband-to-be about this previous fall].
Is such a confession necessary or even advisable for persons about to be married? I dread the thought of it; but do not want anything to stand in the way of our happiness.
It is neither necessary nor advisable to make a confession of your past life to the man you are about to marry. You made your confession through the priest to God, and your sin was forgiven.
The only lasting effect the sin should have on your life is to keep you humble, grateful for the forgiveness you received, and more and more dependent on God’s help to remain good.
But there is no reason for your revealing the past to anyone. Sometimes a man who wants to marry a girl tries to insist that she tell him whether she had ever in her life lapsed from virtue.
This is an unjust demand, an uncalled for probing into the secret and sacred conscience of another.
A girl has no obligation of making a personal confession even in the face of such demands. Indeed, she may even recognize in such demands a danger sign: they may be motivated by an excessively jealous spirit that would cause her great sorrow after marriage.
Even in the case that a boy or girl in love might suggest that they make mutual confessions to each other, the idea should be resisted and rejected.
Lovers and engaged couples should be content to be able to say to each other that they cherish the grace of God and freedom from sin above all other goods, and that they will be loyal to each other for the whole of their lives.
Moreover, it is more important that they help each other to avoid sin in their own pre-marriage association than that they worry about their own or their partner’s repented past.
Should an Engaged Girl Reveal Her Past?
We are several girls in our late teens who would like to disagree with an opinion you expressed several months ago. You said that a man had no right to ask a girl whom he wanted to marry whether she had previously fallen from virtue, and that the girl had no obligation of admitting anything about her past to her fiancé.
We think that if a man wants to know what kind of girl he is marrying he should be allowed to ask her about her past, and that she should honestly tell him. After all, it is important to a man to know that he is marrying a good girl.
We are in perfect agreement with the statement that it is important for a man to know that he is marrying a good girl.
It is the purpose of the period of company-keeping to provide a man with assurance on this point, and equally so to provide the girl with assurance that he is a good man.
By going together for several months, a man and woman can learn all they need to know about the ideals and moral characters of each other, if both are interested enough in this matter to look for and draw out from the other the spiritual and moral principles that are considered of greatest importance.
A girl who lacks character and sound moral principles will not be able to hide her lack from a man who really considers such things necessary for a happy marriage.
And a man who has not acquired solid virtue will clearly manifest his weakness to a girl who realizes that without it a happy marriage could not be hoped for. .
This testing of each other’s characters on the part of a boy and girl keeping company does not require open and complete revelations of each one’s past.
We have set it down, and we repeat, that it is a general presumption that it is not wise for two people preparing for marriage to make full confessions to each other.
It is not good for a man to demand of a girl whom he might ask to marry him that she tell him whether or how she ever fell into sin in the past.
In our experience, we have found that most men who insist on being told such things have had rather chequered careers themselves, and have a leaning toward an unhealthy, not to say morbid, kind of jealousy.
There are exceptions, of course, and our presumption, that in general it is best to leave the past buried, leaves room for them.
It still remains possible, we believe, for a man to learn all he needs to know about a girl, even up to whether she has ever been a sinner or not, without asking direct questions or demanding revelations.
And it is possible for a girl to learn through company-keeping whether the man she is going with hates sin, loves virtue, and is willing to face the sacrifices and responsibilities involved.
The sad thing is that so many are not interested in these supremely important matters.
Sex Experience before Marriage
I recently attended some lectures given at a secular university on the subject of preparation for a happy marriage. In one lecture it was stated that some sex experience before marriage is necessary for happiness in marriage, on the ground that by experiment one learns whether married life will be happy. Is there any truth in this? I am not a Catholic, though I read your column, and 1 feel that this sort of teaching can do an immense amount of harm. Do you agree?
This sort of teaching has frequently crept into marriage courses given to young people in secular colleges and universities today, and you are right about its being very damaging to all who take it even half seriously.
Both on religious and on practical grounds it can be proved that any sort of sex-experimentation before marriage is bound to result in unhappiness.
This should certainly be clear to every God-fearing, Christian boy and girl.
Impurity, the right name for “sex-experimentation” before marriage, is a violation of nature and a transgression of God’s law.
It is an inexorable law of nature and a demand of the justice of God that every sin must be atoned for, and most sins are atoned for not only in the next world, but also in this. “The wages of sin is death.” There are many forms of death by which such sins are atoned for, and one of them is the death of that true happiness, built on the love of God and obedience to His law, that is looked for in marriage.
This religious truth is forcefully confirmed by experience. We recall a statement made by the head of a modern marriage problem clinic, who professed no particularly strong religious convictions.
He said that his experience with the problems of married people forced on him the conclusion that not one in a thousand marriages that had been preceded by sex indulgence turned out to be really happy; none turned out to be as happy as marriage should be.
It stands to reason that this should be so; the law of chastity is so deeply engraved in the conscience that it cannot be violated without major repercussions on the whole personality, nor without spoiling the whole relationship of marriage.
Marriages do suffer, sometimes, from ignorance on the part of husband or wife.
Even before marriage, all ignorance about marriage should be removed by proper instruction. But sin is never a good or prudent preparation for anything.
I am a widow, thirty-one years old, with two children. Before my husband died two years ago I promised him that I would never marry again.
I did that of my own accord because I loved him so much and we had been so happy together. He never asked me to make the promise, and only smiled when I did so.
Now in the past few months I have been going out with a single man of 35, and I already know that if I continue to go with him, he will ask me to marry him.
I want to keep my promise to my husband because I feel bound by it, but at the same time I find it awfully difficult to think of giving up this new friendship. Can you advise me?
There are two things to be considered in solving this problem for yourself. The first one is this, that if you were unequivocally determined to carry out your promise and to remain single, it would be obligatory upon you not to enter into company-keeping at all.
The reason is that you would be in danger of falling into serious sin if, on the one hand, you were prepared to resist all inclinations and invitations to marry again, and at the same time you were making it possible for yourself to fall deeply in love.
It has been said here frequently that regular company-keeping is lawful only if there be a possibility of its ending in lawful marriage.
If you yourself exclude the possibility of marriage from your future, you must go the whole way and exclude regular company-keeping as well.
If you do not, you shall suffer mentally, physically, and probably morally.
The second thing to be considered is the fact that adherence to your promise, under the changed circumstances of the present, may prove to be very foolhardy and imprudent, because of your relative youth and evident inclination toward male companionship.
Unless you are motivated by deep spiritual principles, fortified by strong spiritual habits, and are willing to live a more or less secluded life for the love of God and for the sake of your children, the next ten years may be very difficult ones for you, unless you accept an invitation to marry again.
If you are a Catholic, the best thing to do is to lay your case before a confessor and permit him to decide for you.
After questioning your motives and studying your character for a while, be will be able to tell you whether you may be freed from the promise you made, and whether to marry again may not be the will of God for you.
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