Welcome! If you are joining us for the first time, we are continuing along in a series on the reasons for prolonged singleness. We have covered five contributory reasons thus far, which include lack of knowledge regarding the vocation of marriage, prior wounding, male/female relationship dynamics, spiritual warfare, and one’s failure to act. The next reason for prolonged singleness that we are going to look at is the fear of commitment.
I think the fear of commitment is much more prevalent today than it was in times past. Therefore, it can more readily be a reason for keeping some people single than it was previously. The time we are living in is much more perilous. Also, the last battle between God and Satan is over marriage and the family (Blessed Sister Lucia of Fatima). As a result, we are seeing many families and individuals struggling with brokenness in our society today. This, I believe, contributes to the growth of those dealing with the fear of commitment.
We are Image Bearers
We are made in the image and likeness of God. God makes covenants with his people. As such, we make a covenant with another person in the nuptial relationship. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) describes the sacrament of Matrimony in §1601 in this way:
“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered towards the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”
Marriage involves making a life-long commitment to another person. A man and woman vow to stay with each other on their wedding day through a myriad of circumstances “until death do you part.”
It is completely understandable to have some concern regarding the undertaking of such a great pledge. Marriage is a big responsibility and a major life event. It is very important to have given the matter serious thought and prayer.
When Angst Turns to Alarm
But the normal attention and deliberation due the decision to marry is different from the anxiety, panic, and dread that some folks experience. This is different from the red flags one sees regarding the specific person one is involved with and wants to marry. (This is a different subject altogether. Red flags should always be paid attention to and processed with a trusted friend, mentor, or advisor.)
Red flags are different from an inherent fear of commitment. An individual could be involved with someone who exhibits no red flags; however, he/she has a fear of commitment. This fear needs to be addressed. Since we are created in God’s image, we are created to make a life-long pledge to another person in the sacrament of Matrimony.
I am not a therapist. However, in my experience of having been single until the age of 42, I met people who appeared to struggle with this issue. This fear tends to fall in to one of two types of categories.
The first type of commitment fear stems from issues in your past, while the second type is not wanting to make a choice to marry for fear that it limits your freedom.
Hurt Brings More Hurt
The fear of commitment which develops from one’s past can be caused by a variety of reasons. Some examples include, but are not limited to, trauma, a bad relationship, or a fear of being hurt. By utilizing an internet search engine, one can find much research and information on this type of fear of commitment. There are also recommendations for therapy and suggested ways to overcome it.
I think it is important to seek God and the natural help available to address this issue, as it is important to resolve the impediments keeping one fearful from being able to make a commitment.
The scriptures consistently tell us that we should not be fearful, and that fear is not God’s will for us. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear but rather of power and love and of sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:8). Jesus himself tells us, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)
Nonetheless, many of us have suffered life experiences that have taught us otherwise. Both God, a trusted resource (this could be a therapist, spiritual director, or priest), and prayer can help one move from fear to freedom so that a commitment can be made. So that a person can move forward in a relationship that goes to the altar.
Moving from concern to commitment is a process that God helps us with; it usually does not happen overnight. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19)
No Freedom Without Sacrifice
In the second type of commitment fear is seen when a person does not believe in marriage or monogamy, or just does not want to make a choice for fear that it will limit his or her freedom. This could be financial, personal, or sexual freedom. A person who has this mindset always wants room for plan B, even if they cannot give voice to that.
The core belief at the root of this type of commitment fear is that the commitment itself is an antithesis of self-fulfillment and personal opportunity. Unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth.
Yes, in marriage one must make sacrifices for each other and forsake all others, being faithful to the other spouse. But don’t we do that in other areas of life as well?
For example, when you take a job with an employer, you are forsaking all other employers at that time. And you make sacrifices for your job, whether they are big or small. Perhaps you need to miss some social activities because you must work. You won’t be able to take off for every event you want to attend, otherwise you may not have an income source anymore.
It is true that marriage is for life and a job usually is not. However, one does not make a covenant between themselves and their employer.
Specifically, “from a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament.” (CCC §1638)
The Sacrament of Matrimony equips the spouses especially to live out the marital bond. The “grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” (CCC §1641)
The beauty of the marriage covenant, which is found in the sacrament of marriage, is that it does allow you to grow older with someone and build something together. Also, the marriage covenant allows for the sanctification of the spouses, which ultimately brings about the most personal freedom one could ask for!
Next month, the blog post will be addressing how sin, specifically sexual and greed, contribute to prolonged singleness.
A friendly reminder that right now I am partnering with Celeste Sibolboro of Love Is On Its Way for a “Hope for Marriage Challenge” live on Instagram (IG). Celeste is a Catholic Dating Coach who also married at the age of 42. She and I both recognize that finding and maintaining hope is the first step in getting out of prolonged singleness. As such, we want to share tools that we both used in our prolonged singleness.
The first session was Tuesday, March 28th. You can watch the replay on IG. The remaining four sessions are the following Tuesdays in April at 4PM PT/7PM ET: 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th. You can also sign up for additional worksheets, etc., from the challenge at https://sendfox.com/lp/1dryjd See you there!
Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2023