Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: How to Get to "I Do" A Dating Guide for Catholic Women

Whoever said using Twitter was pointless was wrong. If it hadn't been for Twitter, and author Amy Bonaccorso sending me a friend request, I wouldn't have heard of this book when I was in the midst of (sort of) questioning my vocation. I have always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason so when I was re-thinking my vocation after a particular difficult time for me this, for me, was like a sign from God to have patience and that what I was experiencing was just a little bump in the road. Now, I don't particular like talking about my relationships and that part of my life but I will disclose some things that I think will helpful when reviewing this book. By the way, for me to do this means that the book was actually helpful which is more than I can say for other books aimed for single Catholic women whose vocation is marriage.

First off, I actually ended up loving this book a lot more than I had anticipated. I've read (and reviewed) other books dealing with the same subject but I felt like this book was the only one that was realistic in how relationships truly are. Others tend to romanticize relationships. Although I am a hardcore Janeite and am a hopeless romantic, I do know that real life is not a Disney fairy tale. I like to call myself a romantic realist. A lot of books play up the romance once you find the person with whom you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with. They don't tell you about all the frogs thrown against the wall (instead of kissing them) or about how we should not have our minds clouded by visions of engagement rings and wedding bells. What I liked the most of this book is that it covers everything from the dating to after the wedding which most other books won't even go into. Amy acknowledges that we are human and that we do make mistakes and she works with us instead of preaching.

When you get to be my age (golly, that makes me sound old doesn't it? lol), people begin to question why you aren't married or with children. Especially in the Hispanic community, it's almost unheard of for a young woman to not have at least a significant other at 25. I often get questions on whether I feel my "biological clock ticking", especially since there are more complications during pregnancy as a woman gets older. I must admit that I do occasionally think about it because I do have a strong desire for children (a far cry from my "no children, thank you" stance at 20 years-old, before my reversion). At the same time, I don't want to rush myself or things so I've had a "slow and steady" view. This book covers that... and how! The chapter of "Secular Sisterhood", as well as the entire book, made me realize that I was relying way too much on having God put the guy in my path. I was stuck in the same little rut and that if I want to meet people I have to actually get out there (while still maintaining my morals and beliefs.) There were some things that were advised that I wasn't entirely comfortable with because of my temperament.

I'm actually pretty shy at first, especially when around people of the opposite sex, so of the suggestions to get out there and mingle are a bit daunting for me. It's not as easy for me to be so open right off the bat. It isn't until I feel comfortable enough with someone that I act like the goofball that I am with friends and family. I felt like my personality wasn't compatible with some of the advice in which she encourages us to actually get out there and date. I occasionally felt as if I were almost being pushed into acting in a way that is very outside my comfort level. I actually had to look within to figure out why that was and even after I figured it out, I was still not entirely sure it was for me... but that's okay. I did see where she came from and I can see why she would advice some things but I'd have to modify it to fit my own personal comfort level. I liked that I got this out of the book as I hadn't with any other before. It made me feel more confident about how I feel about dating and who I was as an individual person.

Throughout the entire thing I kept thinking about recommending it to various people, Catholic and non-Catholics alike, because it's full of great advice. Amy mentions setting a time limit with the vocation discernments which I, from personal experience, found to be excellent advice. When I was discerning my own vocation I didn't set one for myself but Fr. Leo did... at I was glad he did. He saw something in me that I was still figuring out and advised me to wait 2 years before I decided on becoming a nun. Before the two years were up I knew in my heart that the religious life wasn't for me. Discerning a religious vocation should be taken seriously and not delayed which many young women and men do. I LOVED (yes, it needed to be in caps) that she mentioned that the single life should not be the "last option" if you're not called to the religious life and can't find a person. I have seen many friends seriously consider the priesthood/religious life or becoming a consecrated single because they can't find anyone and their patience isn't the best.

This book really goes into online dating which I was a little wary on. I'm not knocking it but I've always been friends with someone before dating them and I feel like a lot of people just want to jump into relationships because they're physically attracted to someone (and only for that reason). Some people also try to present themselves in a way that they aren't (putting their best foot forward... even if it's not who they really are) which makes me a little nervous. At the end I have come to consider it because it may a little easier as I blush and stutter easily when I first meet people. I still haven't done it because I'm very cautious (hi, mostly Phelgmatic here, remember?) but I'm more open minded to the idea of using it.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I was actually going through a bit of a weird time in which I was questioning whether I had discerned my vocation properly. I had actually begun the second 54 day Rosary novena (which ended yesterday) to pray for not only my vocation but also that of a couple of my friends. It was a time when I wasn't the only one questioning their vocation but I was the only one who was sure that their vocation was that of marriage and not religious life or of being a consecrated single. Without going into much detail, I was dealing with feelings for a friend who was (and still is) discerning his own vocation while having another fella from my past show up and thus reminded me of a time in which I seriously considered becoming a Carmelite nun. It was a lot of fun. lol. I also had other things that contributed to my confusion. Since I don't have a spiritual director at the moment (and haven't had one since Fr. Leo passed away a little over a year ago) I was trying to make sense of everything without much help. The novena (which is always hard at first) was something I started hoping to either be at peace with my vocation or to help me figure things out. I didn't like that I was going into a spiritual desert (which I endured throughout most of Advent almost up until Christmas). A couple of days into novena came friend request and the eventual purchase on Amazon. It was the best decision I made during my time in the spiritual desert and it helped me make sense of the feelings I had for a friend with some amazing epiphanies that helped me greatly.

If I had to summarize this book in a nutshell I'd call it advice you'd get from an older sister who wants the best for you... without being preachy. A lot of dating/courtship/relationship books aimed for Christian women are a little too much. While I do agree that God should have a place in a relationship, this book doesn't shove it down your throat. It didn't have a "if you don't do this and this and that then you're displeasing God and thus ruining your relationship" vibe. Again, she acknowledges that everyone is different and that we're not perfect which takes the pressure off of feeling like we must behave in a certain way. I would definitely recommend this book for single women AND men (and I was mentally making a list of which guy friends I'll personally speak to about this book) of all ages. :D

I don't think this is the last time I will write about vocations as I'm taking a Theology of Marriage and Family class, but I think this is it for now. ;). lol. I hope y'all have had a great week thus far... and that I've peaked the curiosity in some of you enough to make you want to read this book. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

3 comments:

vitaconsecrata said...

Sounds like a great book!

Jana said...

It does sound like a good book. I liked The ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband by Steve Wood. It gave me a good framework of what to look for when meeting a guy.

Like you, once I realized what my vocation was I found I was perplexed as to how to find someone who was compatible with my beliefs.

The groups I was involved with were not places I would want my future husband to be from. I had already dated one guy from that pool and saw the negatives resulting from relationships formed in those groups. It wasn't pretty.

My church had almost no one of marriageable age attending.

My work was almost entirely comprised of women who were more than happy to be matchmakers, but lacked an interest in spiritual compatibility.

Realizing my social pool was too small to produce a viable husband I decided to branch out and try an online dating site. Keeping in mind that I wanted someone who shared my beliefs I opted for Catholic only sites like avemariasingles.com (good site, but small pool), catholicsingles.com (okay site, not many extras, quite a few people), and my favorite catholicmatch.com (it has forums, friends, dating, articles, and a large pool of people). I found the last site to be especially helpful with my faith life. Their forum cover everything and the more you post in the forums the higher you angel avatar ranks (just a bit of fun). I did get many of my questions answered and even some help in finding a particular Mary statue for my mom's birthday. Also, I met my husband through there, we're on our 2nd year of marriage and we have a baby boy who is 2 months old.

Show basic precaution with online dating. Spell out exactly the type of person you are and generally what sort of person you're interested in meeting. You never know who you'll meet or who you'll like. Next, look at your matches and send a smile to those you may be interested in. If they are interested back they may send you a smile in return or a little email. From then on it's the back and forth of getting to know the other person.

Eventually, I would give a person my private email account and we would continue our conversations there instead of on the dating site. When meeting an individual I finally made my meeting place at Mass followed by lunch or dinner at a restaurant. All public places, in the most comfortable settings for me. How that first meeting went determined if we would continue the emailing and seeing each other.

One step at a time. You most likely won't be marrying the first person you meet.

Lauren said...

I am so happy to have found your blog simply for this post, and to be able to read this book! I am quite interested in it now, and hopefully I'll be able to find it somewhere. (My area is quite lacking in Christian/Catholic bookstores). I totally hear ya on the whole falsely feeling "old" and discerning vocations thing. This is so what I need to read right now.