The next time that I stands out in my single life is my senior year of college. I'm about 22 at that point, and still single. There are more and more of my friends that are dating seriously and a few that are starting to get married. There are about an equal number of people that are preparing weddings and those that are starting grad school. I was in good company.
My reasons for wanting to be married were still exactly the same as they were 4 years ago, but my qualifications had begun to change a little. During the time that I was at college, I had made a number of wonderful Christian friends, but met very few fellow Catholics, at least very few Catholics that were sold out for God. I loved those friends, but I was always a little apart from them. I'm sure that had nothing whatever to do with my introverted personality! :) But I also think that a large part of it came from a very real separation that we had between us. They were not Catholic and I was. This meant that I went to church by myself. They went to their services together, and would often do stuff together afterwards. This gave them bonding time that I could not share.
I will never forget one instance in particular. There was a retreat for the religious group on campus, and I was a member. I went, and we had a great time playing games, hanging out, singing praise and worship songs and the whole bit. Then we came to a communion service. I had not known that there was going to be one. Our college chaplain gave a wonderful sermon about the bonds of friendship and the way that the Lord's Supper confirmed and sealed those bonds, signifying our unity. My heart was like a rock in my chest. I could not join in communion with these people that had come to mean so much to me. The pain of disunity in the Body of Christ had never been so immediate for me before. I know that there are those that would have said that it didn't matter that much and I should have received anyway. It does matter. We are not in complete unity, therefore to receive communion would be to lie and add on top of the disunity. Believe me, I have been praying a lot harder for unity among Christians since that time.
My senior year, I also remember that I was studying something about the Eucharist. I got really excited, but I didn't have anyone to share it with. I was bursting so bad that I attempted to tell my roommate (Christian, not Catholic) a little about it. Of course, I couldn't get in to the full depth of it, since she didn't believe in transubstantiation, but I tried to at least get at the points that we agree on. She was very sweet, and listened politely, but was clearly not that interested.
All of these things combined to help me form the opinion that I really wanted to find a man that was Catholic. I hope that it is clear that I don't mean to say that Catholics are better Christians than non-Catholics. In fact, my experience in college was probably the opposite. However, I could no longer imagine living out that separation in my own home. I was also very impressed by a lot of the Christian guys that I met, and I knew that they needed to be the spiritual head of the home. I could no longer see how that can happen in the case that a man goes to one church and his family goes to another. Finally, I get so excited about the Church; the history of it, the Church fathers, the Eucharist and the sacraments, the way the teachings and Scripture fit together, Theology of the Body, and on and on. It is so much a part of me, that I cannot imagine trying to share my life with someone that could not share this part of me.
I know many mixed marriages that have gone very well (my parents and my brother to name two, though my dad became Catholic around the time that I was born). I would also far prefer a non-Catholic that was on fire for God than a lukewarm Catholic any day. However, when I was a freshman I didn't think that it mattered a great deal. By the time I was a senior, I knew otherwise.