A Practical Guide to Engagement for the Catholic Man
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Chet Collins in stylized text
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A Practical Guide to Engagement for the Catholic Man

Why I Wrote This Book

Deciding whether or not to propose to Alison was one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve ever made. As it should be. Committing to spend the rest of your life in love and service is a momentous moment for any person, let alone a young person.

The process that the proposal set in motion was confusing to me. Brides-to-be have endless magazines, articles, planners, websites, and personal experience to fall back on. More likely than not, your beloved has been planning her wedding since she was a little girl. You just started a few minutes ago and, besides this book, you’re mostly on your own.

Entering into marriage is the most significant transition that will take place in your life. You will enter into a relationship that will require your full attention, commitment, and involvement. While you won’t be married until the exchange of vows, you and your fiancée start building your marital relationship at the engagement.

The Transition is the book that will help you through this process. I share my experience, tips, and ideas for you as I take you through each stage of the wedding planning process. I’ll show you what to be prepared for, how to be supportive, and what things you and your future spouse need to be talking about. I also preview all of the changes that will take place in your first six months of marriage, and perhaps help you avoid a major fight or two.

Too many couples fall apart because they spent more time planning their wedding than planning their marriage. You have one chance to build your marriage right from the start. Let me help you win Fiancé of the Year and build the foundation for a phenomenal marriage.

What readers are saying

humorous, insightful, and practical advice


an excellent guide to engagement for young Catholic men


a good solid Catholic foundation throughout

A. Pahl

About the Book

What is marriage? It's a question too many of us are asking ourselves. Marriage is the free consent of a man and a woman to be joined together, witnessed by the Church, which becomes the foundation of a family. It may surprise you to know that marriage starts with the engagement. This important time is when your marriage begins to take shape. If you want a phenomenal marriage, you need to be intentional about how you build it.
The hard subjects
There are five key areas that present the biggest challenges to any marriage. If you and your beloved can work through them, your marriage has a high likelihood of success. I'll show you how to have the tough conversations.
Support your fianceé
Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful experiences that any woman can go through. I'll explain the planning process so that you can better support her.
The driver's seat
You and your fiancée get to decide what kind of marriage you want to have. If you want to have a quality, fruitful, happy marriage, you need to start right now.
Build your marriage right. You can have a successful marriage, if you start building right from the start. Set the right expectations and immerse yourself in what marriage truly is. Use your engagement to plan your wedding and your marriage. By starting to work together with your soon-to-be spouse, you can ensure that you'll spend more of your marriage enjoying one another than fighting.


You found her. She’s everything you could ask for. Sure, she has some quirks and some habits you wish she didn’t, but she doesn’t have any character flaws. She’s the one.

When you reach this seminal moment in your relationship, you’re in a unique place. You’ve been dating for an extended period of time. There is no specific “hard and fast rule” for when you should get engaged, but a good rule of thumb is at least one year. After a year, you’ve seen your girlfriend through all seasons, you’ve had a chance to meet each other’s families, and you’ve seen each other in both good and difficult times.

It’s important to understand what an engagement really is. It isn’t a “waiting period” before you actually get married, and it isn’t a “planning period,” although it may feel like it. It’s also not a way telling your friends how in love you are or a chance to buy your beloved a flashy ring.

A Sacramental Marriage has two parts: the contract and the covenant. This isn’t a contract in a purely legal sense, but it’s a mutual declaration of intentions. It’s you and your fiancée mutually agreeing to marry each other. This is what the Gospels were talking about when Mary was “betrothed” to Joseph. They weren’t married, but they had declared mutual intent. The Sacrament of Marriage is the covenant. Sacramental Marriage is when you confer the Sacrament on each other, blessed by the Church, and sealed by God. Forever.

Ok, cool theology. What does it have to do with a proposal? Simply this: proposing to your girlfriend isn’t a cute story you two share or a chance to post a life event on Facebook. It’s very difficult, particularly emotionally, to break off an engagement. You really need to do your homework, get above your emotions, and spend time prayerfully discerning this move.

You don’t need to do a 30 day silent retreat, but you also shouldn’t make the decision while drinking with your buddies. This is likely the first time you’ve had to make a decision requiring this much maturity. What we’re talking about is making a commitment for a lifetime. Don’t be an idiot and rush it. While “popping the question” should have an element of surprise in it, entering into an engagement should be no surprise. If it is, you’re doing it wrong.

In-depth preparation is critical to laying a solid foundation for your marriage. You need to talk with your fiancée about four critical areas of life: religion, children, finance, and in-laws. You will hammer these out further during your engagement, but you at least need to know that on a basic level you are compatible together.

You want to drill into these conversations to establish a starting point to work from. You can’t predict the rest of your lives, but if you aren’t starting with mutual understanding, you’re off to a bad start.

That’s not to say that you need to be in lockstep with each other. There will be differences. You’re different people with different life experiences. What you do with those differences is key. You need to understand both how they will affect you and how you will deal with them.

Each of you will enter into your marriage with a different view on what marriage is and what it means. These world views will be based on the previous experiences you’ve had with marriage. You each need to understand how you’ve both seen marriage play out in the real world. For example, if one of you has had divorce in your family, you’ll want to deeply explore that. What did you perceive as the main cause? What was the actual cause? How are you going to live your marriage differently so you can protect it? You’ll need to explore these topics more during your engagement, but make sure that before you enter into the contract, you know who you are getting into it with.
The Transition book cover art

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The Transition is available in paperback, for Kindle, and on Apple Books.
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Chet Collins author

About the Author

Chet Collins is the author of three books, including The Transition, Humble Service: Leading Your Family as a Stay-At-Home Dad and Grant Us Peace. His most recent release is the semi-annual publication, Applied Bioethics Magazine.

Chet started publishing regularly in 2013. He writes on the subjects of philosophy, bioethics, marriage, fatherhood, and family life. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he met his wife, Alison. They have four delightful children.