The Vocation to Married Life is a profound and beautiful gift that many are called to. In this vocation, two people dedicate their lives to the faithful love and support of one another in a relationship that provides the opportunity for love to grow, deepen and flourish. A willingness to accept children in this relationship and to help them learn about the faith as they grow and develop is an important part of this commitment. Through this vocation, the home and family become a place where they can grow in love for one another, alongside their growth in love and understanding of God. Like all vocations, it requires time, commitment, patience and understanding. It also requires prayer - an easy aspect to overlook, but a vital one for the Christian vocation of marriage. The Christian view of marriage is that it is a reflection of the relationship Christ has with the Church, so having a place for God in that marriage to guide, strengthen and support the couple as they grow in love of each other, their children and him is a key foundation stone.
Discernment in marriage has parallels with other vocations. A desire for marriage and enjoyment of children may well be features that prompt you towards the sacrament. Ultimately though, marriage occurs because of the mutual desire between a couple to commit their lives to one another. That process requires the time to grow to know one another and careful thought and prayer asking God to guide them in their relationship to know if it is his will that they be together. That will involve an honest searching for whether they have values, interest, aspirations and ideals that provide the potential for growth in a harmonious and loving relationship. Eventually the commitment to matrimony involves the couple in committing themselves to one another regardless of what the future may bring them as an act of hope, faith and love - and asking God that he may bless and support them in their married life together.
There are many books about marriage preparation and married life. They cover the enormous range of areas that this state of life involves people in. However, when considering what the vocation of marriage will mean in your life, it's crucial that thought be given to the central role that God plays in it. Books that may help with that are:
Your Love Story: A Guide to Marriage and Engagement, by Deacon William Turrentine, Published 2016 by Couple to Couple League International, ISBN 0926412019
Joined by Grace: A Catholic Prayer Book for Engaged and Newly Married Couples, by John and Teri Bosio, Published 2017 by Ave Maria Press, 160 pages, ISBN 1594717273
Three to Get Married, by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, originally published 1951, reprinted by Scepter Publishing in 1996, 216 pages, ISBN 0933932871
31 Prayers for my Future Wife: Preparing my Heart for Marriage by Praying for Her, by Aaron Smith, Published 2016 by Smith Family Resources, 176 pages, ISBN 0986366765
31 Prayers for my Future Husband: Preparing my Heart for Marriage by Praying for Him, by Jennifer Smith, Published 2016 by Unveiled Wife, 176 pages, ISBN 0986366757
Those who are considering marriage may want a spiritual guide to help them with this. Once they have taken the decision to become engaged it will be necessary for them to speak to their parish priest to plan their wedding. Most parishes have a minimum notice period of six months, some may be longer, and there will be a marriage preparation course to take part in.
The Marriage and Family Commission of the Diocese is chaired by Fr David Palmer; further information on the Commission is available on its page - look under the 'Information' tab, then under 'Diocesan Commissions'.