I clearly remember a conversation I had with two of my best friends from high school. It was the summer after our Freshman year of college, and we had gone to a local amusement park. We talked the whole day. Sure, we went on rides, saw shows, ate lunch, but pictures from that day show how exhausted we were from the effort of not having been around each other all year and most of the summer after three years of seeing each other every day of the school week. So, that day, we caught up on nine months of conversation.
On the way out to the parking lot, tired from the heat, wilting from exhaustion, we talked about whether or not we would ever marry someone who wasn't Catholic. I said, "Well, maybe Greek Orthodox," because the guy I had a huge crush on at the time happened to be Greek Orthodox. My friends were staunch in their belief that only a Catholic would do - the ethnicity/race might vary, but they had to marry a Catholic.
I've gone back and forth on the issue in the years that followed that conversation. The crush of that time went away in a flash of unpleasantries and other crushes, dates, pseudo-boyfriends, almost-boyfriends and boyfriends followed. Some were Catholic, some were Christian, some were something else entirely. There was one agnostic former-Catholic who somewhat returned to his faith after 9-11, but I didn't trust his return. There were the Catholic converts, too new and uncertain in their faith to consider the possibility that other religions have something to offer Catholics. There was an actual, cradle-Catholic who went to church on Sunday, watched baseball on Saturday and acted like a guy. But he had other issues.
At the end of "relationships" with Catholic guys, I think, "Maybe I shouldn't date a Catholic guy. I think that I don't really understand what a Catholic guy is and that I overestimate the importance of Catholicism in a relationship." At the end of "relationships" with non-Catholics, I think, "Catholic. Catholic all the way. I need a Catholic guy."
Now, I don't know anymore. I don't know if I'm "settling" by not insisting on being with a Catholic man. I don't know if I'm reading these Catholic guys correctly...the practicing Catholics guys I've dated tend to be far more conservative than me. The guys on Catholic dating sites actually state that they're looking for someone to be a stay-at-home-mom to ten kids, while Catholic guys on other dating sites tend to say that they're not really Catholic anymore. Sometimes a lapsed Catholic is worse than a practicing one...
So, I used to believe that I needed to date and marry a man who shared my faith, as much as possible.
Now, I just don't know.