You pray for your child. You help him pray his innocent little prayers at bedtime. You wish for him to grow into a healthy, happy adult—fulfilled, dignified, respected, accomplished. And all this is beautiful.
But how often we forget the other half of your child. What could I possibly mean? I mean your son’s future wife and your daughter’s future husband—if God so wills.
Look upon your little one. If you can, look at him right now. Is he playing in the back yard on the swings? Coloring a picture? Is he peacefully napping? Or perhaps he is no longer so little. Is he driving to school or work? Is he in college right now?
See what your little one (who may not be so little) is doing at this particular stage in life. Now, comprehend that his future wife is most likely doing something very similar at this moment, for they are probably close in age. If your son is crawling, there is a good chance his future wife is crawling. If he is in the garage lifting weights, there is a good chance she is doing something today to become physically attractive herself.
In other words, your child’s future spouse is not an idea. No! He or she is a flesh and blood person. Your daughter’s future husband is now forming good and bad habits and opening himself up and closing himself off to God’s grace. He desperately needs your prayers as much as your own daughter does.
Consider, Dear Parent: how much of your own happiness or sadness comes from your marriage? How important to your own well-being and to your children’s well-being are the virtues and vices of your spouse? Is your wife overly critical? Does your husband suffer from anger? Is your wife subject to the sins of gossip and pride? Is your husband a slave to lust? On the other hand, is your husband a strong and faithful husband? Is your wife a tender and loving wife?
So much of our joy and so much of our sorrow comes from our other self, for the two become one flesh (see Mk 10:8–10).
Imagine: God revealed to you the little boy that your little girl will one day marry. And this little boy lives next door. You see the trials and tribulations of this little boy, for his parents are imperfect. You see how his good looks and intelligence become sources of vanity. You see his courage often becomes rashness and foolishness.
You see all the normal processes that a young man goes through as he finds his way into manhood. But if you could help this little boy in his time of need, if you could help shape his character, if you could aid him to avoid extremes, if you could somehow get him to confession and Holy Mass more frequently, if you could do all these things and more to help prepare a most worthy husband for your daughter, would you not do so?
Of course you would. You would surely give as much attention to this child as you do your own, for your own child’s happiness in this life is largely dependent on the virtue of his or her future spouse.
Dear Parent, hear me: you can, right now, pray for that little boy or little girl. Commit yourself, right now, to praying for your future son-in-law and daughter-in-law every single day that you remain on this earth.
As you pray for your children, one by one, now add their future spouses, for they are not an idea; they are living and breathing and desperately need your prayers.
And furthermore, tonight, when you tuck your little one into bed, begin the practice of praying for his future spouse with him! He will look at you funny. He may even laugh. But over time, he will begin to understand something so powerful that it will change his life forever. He will be keenly aware that his future wife is out there in the world and needs prayers.
Yes, your ten-year-old daughter can understand that if God calls her to Holy Matrimony, she can begin the beautiful spousal task of praying for her spouse. Imagine, Loving Parent, that your daughter has been praying for this young man every night for three years, and now she is sixteen, and boys are interested in her. But every single night, she has been praying for that one special young man. She already loves him, though knows not exactly who he is.
Thus, she sees the silly boys flirting with her for nothing more than that. And she awaits her husband in purity and anticipation. And now, she is twenty-two, graduating college. She has passed up many temptations. She has turned away many interested boys. For twelve years, every single night—which is 4,380 nights—she has prayed for this young man.
She has gone into Adoration countless times throughout college, gazed upon Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and smiled as her heart turned towards her future husband, who was once a boy in her mind and is now a man, roaming the world in search of her. In a sense, she knows him. And in fact, she loves him. She awaits him to find her. She is ready for him. And she turns her heart back to the Blessed Eucharist and says with sincerest love, “Bring him to me, Lord. But care for him, O Lord, until I can.”
And now, Dad and Mom, now imagine she has found him. Finally, the young man drops to one knee and proposes. She can look down upon him with that same loving gaze that gazed upon Our Lord in Adoration; she looks at him with those same eyes that tightly closed when she was a uttering the little prayers at ten years old; she can look down upon him and say, “I have been with you every day since I was ten years old.
I have held you in my mind and in my heart. You have been on my lips thousands of times as I offered you to God’s care. I love you, but I have always loved you. And I answer yes, I will be your wife, but in a sense, I have always belonged to you, and you to me. You are not just the man of my marriage, but the man of my life, for my father and mother gave you to me as a little girl in my nighttime prayers. You are the man of my life, and so I accept your proposal with all my heart.”
Source: Parenting for Eternity by Conor Gallagher, Published by TAN Books (cf. Chapter 2: The Virtue of Piety), pp. 66-70.