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And so that they may not deplore for the rest of their lives the sorrows arising from an indiscreet marriage, those about to enter into wedlock should carefully deliberate in choosing the person with whom henceforward they must live continually: They should, in so deliberating, keep before their minds the thought first of God and of the true religion of Christ, then of themselves, of their partner, of the children to come, as also of human and civil society, for which wedlock is a fountain head."Let them diligently pray for Divine help, so that they make their choice in accordance with Christian prudence, not indeed led by the blind and unrestrained impulse of lust, nor by any desire of riches or other base influence, but by a true and noble love and by a sincere affection for the future partner; and then let them strive in their married life for those ends for which the state was constituted by God.

Do I know my child to be a moral and spiritual leader among his/her peers?

"The more you see your child demonstrating these traits at home — with you and his/her siblings and friends — the more you can safely assume that your child is ready to date," he added.

"There’s no reason to date someone you don’t really think you would marry someday," said Liz.

"I used to actually tell my mom that I was only going to date the person that I was going to marry.

Dating plays a vital role in the marriage-discernment process, giving young people experiences with the opposite gender so that they can learn what types of personalities may be a good match for them.

For Stu and Liz Sigmund of Oconomowoc, Wis., dating was an indispensable factor in their marriage discernment."They should model healthy communication, even healthy ‘arguing’ and ‘disagreeing,’ constant gentleness, mercy, compassion and mutual respect.In short, parents should ‘become’ the person they desire their children to ‘bring home.’" Above all else, prayer is a top priority in dating and marriage discernment, according to all sources interviewed for this article."The graces are many for those who discern well," Lenko said.Added Stu Sigmund: "It takes a lot of silent prayer and reflection to hear what God has written into your heart.Southern Californian Leslie Lenko depended on prayer and the sacraments to guide her through a tough discernment process before marrying her husband of 20 years. "I remember many times, after work, driving to a beautiful Catholic church for prayer.