Perhaps my fiancee will forgive my grandstanding, but the courtship process and especially my recent engagement have thrown some light on the issue of marriage. It's like standing on top of a mountain and looking out at a plain, as opposed to seeing the same area on a map. Things stand out in higher relief.
The first thing that has startled me with its gravity is just how public an event a marriage is. A married friend told me recently, "The sooner you realize your wedding isn't about you or your future wife, the better." It makes sense from a moral perspective, but the concrete fact of the interdependence of our relationship on other people is staggering. My proposal to Erin was a communal event, and the joy being shared with our friends and family is an extension of that. I haven't experienced this much joy on a group scale ever, in my whole life. Marriage is not a private institution people. It is most public.
The second element that has struck me is the importance of chastity during courtship. Realistically, chastity is no small virtue and many fellow courtesans can attest to its difficulty. Trying to live chastity has made very vivid the distinction between using someone and loving someone. The feeling that chastity is laying a foundation for future happiness has become exteremely clear.
And I guess the most important element that I have experienced is the need for fortitude. The catechism defines fortitude as "...the virtue by which we do what is good and right in spite of any difficulty." Often I think that the way that I achieve a good is to remove the difficulty. Really, I am not achieving a good at all, I am only removing myself from a difficulty. I would say it is among the defining faults of my temperament.
This journey has been awesome so far. It doesn't always seem to read like "The Theology of the Body", but the principles it reveals are both grave and wonderful.