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The Girl Worth Choosing by Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S.J. (Part One)

This is a lovely..and detailed… article. Since it is long I have broken it up into two parts….that are still long.

I read this kind of list before I met my husband. I also read a list about what a girl should look for in a Catholic young man. This was very helpful for me. I knew I would not find someone who perfectly fitted the bill…but I had something to go on in a day and age where you feel like you have to lower your morals or at least your expectations in order to find someone. Once again, you won’t find perfection…ever (are we perfect?)….but there ARE things to look for!

This list is extensive. There are many things for the young lady to work on. I have never understood why a young woman would feel like she has to fill in her time with going to college in order to feel useful in that interim before Mr. Right comes. (It’s different if you actually have a God-given career to pursue).

There are so many things to learn in this world! So many ways to grow in virtue! So many things we can do before we get married to develop these very same attributes Father Lord talks about! It is a time to really roll up our sleeves and get working!

This list is very good for us married women too. We should never stop growing in virtue and we need to be teaching our girls these things!

(As a side note, do not let this list dishearten you. None of us will be “ideal”. Part of growing in virtue is accepting who we are…a fallen human being. Let’s just use this list to tweak areas that may need working on…)

The Girl Worth Choosing

For the BOY who Chooses and the GIRL who wants to be Chosen.


Part Two is here.

Painting by Elaine Munier (1840-1895)

This is for the boy with his eyes on the future. But it is for the girl who is thinking ahead. It is meant to help a boy pick out the right girl, and to help the girl be the kind that will be happily and permanently picked.

If you are a boy not in love, yet expect someday to be, this booklet is meant to guide you in picking the girl worth loving. If you are in love, there is still time for you, my young friend, to appraise the girl and decide whether she is the sort who will hold your love as the years slip by.

As for the girl, the suggestions in this booklet will make you more lovable. This is no guide to glamour. But it is a guide to the feminine characteristics that attract a young man and make a mature man glad that in his youth you attracted him.

Choosing the right girl is one of life’s great decisions. Upon it depends more of a man’s future happiness than at the time he faintly guesses. Romance fades and realism sets in; the dream is gone and the damsel remains. The enchantment of fascination disappears but the enchainment can remain a delightful partnership or a life sentence.

While some girls, in the blessed providence of God, are meant to know His full love and their own personal dedication to Him and His little ones, for most girls the matter of who picks them out and says, “Will you?” is terribly important. It is important to be chosen by the right man. Better not be chosen at all rather than find that the man who asks you has asked you for all the wrong reasons.


“Aw,” protests the young man, “what kind of a business deal does he think marriage is? Love is enough. Love will point out the perfect girl for me. One look, and I’ll say, ‘This is the one!’ Isn’t that the way the popular songs go? Doesn’t it happen like that in the movies?”

I shouldn’t, if I were you, trust too far the popular ‘song-pluggers’ or the actors and actresses who play at love on the screen. Their married lives are seldom a pattern of successful and enduring love.

Falling in love is almost too easy. People do it all the time, and sometimes many times over. Someday in greying maturity, you will look back in amazement at the number of girls you briefly thought you loved. Most young men say, “This is the one,” after a quick look at a litany of maidens.

Marrying is something very different.

Marrying is the heart and the head working together. It is love that to “Isn’t she lovely?” adds “And what a lovely disposition;” to “Isn’t she beautiful?” quickly joins “And what a beautiful soul!” Marriage turns love into a permanent state. Until marriage, the girl you love comes and goes; with marriage she stays on. Love may be blind; but marriage gives you plenty of time to look at the girl and really see her.

It is easy to marry; it takes a lot of co-operation between two well-matched and congenial people to stay happily married.


The disillusioned married man was once the enthralled bridegroom. He comes to a friend with a startled look in his eye, crying, “If I had only known her beforehand as I know her now!” Or, angrily and in frustration, he waves his arms at an unsympathetic world: “Why didn’t somebody tell me? Why wasn’t I given some tests that I could have applied before I married the girl?”

Now the simple fact remains: A girl is not changed by marriage. She is the same in disposition and abilities, in character and virtue after the honeymoon as she was before she was fitted for her bridal gown.

More than that, the shrewd observer could have seen in the girl the qualities that would make her a good or poor wife — a happy mother or a complaining shrew. All the signs were there. Many a casual person saw them. It was the lover, blinded by his emotions, who missed the obvious. He in some cases deliberately preferred to be blind. “She’ll change,” he persuaded himself. Or, “I like the fact that she can’t cook . . . Isn’t her continuous chatter delightful? . . . Of course, she hasn’t grown up, but she will . . . I know she is extravagant with her parents’ money; but she won’t be that way with mine.”


Before marriage, not after, is the time to find out what sort of person the girl really is.

Laugh if you like, but many a highly successful marriage was worked out by the parents of the boy and the girl. The lad’s mother and father knew that the girl was charming, good, virtuous, an excellent cook, a fine manager, with a pleasant disposition. She was no Miss Universe; but twenty years from now when her beautiful character had given her grace and a durable smile and comfortable understanding and instinctive good manners, how lucky the man who had married her!

Since parents haven’t much to do with marriage choices these days, the young man had better do some tall and serious thinking for himself. We Americans are wild advocates of the romantic marriage. And we are also an international disgrace for the way our marriages go to pieces on the rocks. Quite obviously a “glamour puss” is not necessarily a successful wife. She may be a Wow in a ball gown but she may also shy away in horror from the waving of an apron. She may have a clever line of chatter that is hollow as the rattle of castanets.

So before marriage, during what is first friendship and the beginning of courtship, the wise young man looks and listens and judges and appraises. He quite reasonably expects that the girl is sensible enough to give him the same treatment. Precisely the sort of person not to marry is the person (male or female) who rushes into marriage without thought, planning, or more than a heart-throbbing acquaintance with a life-time partner.

Look, young man, and study the signs.

Don’t, young lady, even consider marrying a man who doesn’t look and study.

Don’t be hurt, young fellow, if the girl is slow to decide whether she thinks you are up to the standard she has set.

Run like a startled deer, young miss, from the hunter who shouts first at his quarry and then asks what kind of trophy he has bagged.

To put it simply: Look before you love.

Or for the girls, let’s say: Be complimented by the long and thoughtful look of a good man and be sure you can stand in honest scrutiny.


What should a young man planning marriage look for?

What qualities should a young woman develop that would attract a fine, intelligent man, and hold a devoted, faithful husband?

Let’s start with that all-important thing called disposition.

“Disposition” is a word that comes from the verb “dispose.” And “dispose” means “arrange”. How is the girl disposed towards things and people around her? How does she arrange her actions to fit the people she meets and the circumstances that arise?

The ancient verse used to say (and we change only the noun):

“It’s easy enough to be pleasant

When love runs along like a song;

But the maid who’s worth while

Is the maid who can smile

When everything goes dead wrong”.

That was said first of men. But disposition is not so different in men or women. How is she disposed towards pleasant days or gloomy weather … towards plenty of spending money or a sudden shortage . . . to a new spring outfit or last year’s that must do for this season . . . towards the party when some other girl takes the spotlight . . . towards old people and young children . . . towards a week full of dates and a week when — for some reason — the phone doesn’t ring . . . towards the school election that chose her Queen of the May and the class election that found her missing the presidency by one vote ?


A lot of future life would be simplified for the young man who learned to read girls’ smiles:

The quick spontaneous smile of good humor . . .

The smile that breaks when things have broken badly . . .

The smile with which a hard job is accepted . . .

The smile that is the outward sign of inward grace . . .

For cheerfulness is just one of the really important elements of a woman’s disposition. A man battles the world all day, and it’s often enough a tough, ratty world that cuffs him and growls at him and snaps about his ears, and digs pointed elbows into his ribs. When he comes home, he has a right to ask cheerfulness. The smile of his wife at the door is the real love-light that should be burning for him. And he can drop into an armchair of peace if he is welcomed by the cheerful good humor, the dimpled smile, the easy gaiety of his wife.

Many a woman has wisely cultivated a smile.

Girls with charming dimples may well have learned before their mirror that a smile is the way to wake them in fullest fascination.

There are forced smiles . . . and artificial smiles . . . and smiles that are turned on and off with some sort of inner switch, actually emotionless as an electric bulb.

Public entertainers learn to flash their smiles, no more sincere than the tears shed by a Johnnie Ray or a singing crocodile. As the chorus line dances onto the stage, the tired, gloomy, unsmiling faces of the girls will seem to catch fire from the footlights; and practiced smiles in magnificent insincerity will burst on every face.

In a way, a smile is less of the lips and the dimples than it is of the eyes. A mouth may curve in a smile and the eyes remain dead and lifeless. But eyes cannot smile without the whole face waking to cheerfulness and charm.


The test of cheerfulness is, of course, any sort of difficulty.

A girl cannot be other than cheerful when a young man dances attention on her, when she is heavily dated, when her frock is fresh and flattering; when Dad lets her borrow the car, and Mother slips her an extra green bill for incidental expenses.

The time to see whether or not a girl is cheerful is when things go badly:

It rains and spoils the picnic.

You are sorry but whereas you expected to take her to the expensive restaurant with the name band, you admit you are able to afford only a movie and a hamburger.

Mother says, “Sorry, dear, your father and I just have to go out tonight; and you have to stay home and take care of the youngsters.”

She has a fresh manicure, but it is also her turn to do the dinner dishes.

She expected to be the school’s prom queen, but the other girl wins the place.

Despite her honest efforts, she does not win a place in the school competition.

She captains a team that loses.

Her baby brother runs his hands, heavy with chocolate and jam, over her new linen suit.

You sincerely wanted to take her out, but if you don’t stay home and study, you’ll barely scrape through.


Small tests are the big tests; for big tests come rarely in life. The cheerful wife and the cheerful mother will be the girl who can take small mishaps with a grin; who doesn’t get upset by the tricks of everyday incidents; who can smile and even laugh a little at the trifling disappointments of life.

Watch the girl for the small things. Those are the things you and your wife will have to face later on. Cheerfulness is the precious sunshine of a home; and if the wife has it, the home is bright and beautiful indeed.


Always a young man can think of a girl in these two ways:

  1. Someday I shall depend upon her for my personal happiness, once she is my wife.
  2. Someday my children will take their manners and their morals from her, once she is their mother.

So, in this day when manners are not too much prized by the younger generation, you’d be wise to take a good look at the manners of the girl you are thinking of choosing.

“Manners” — the word — expresses exactly what it intends to say:

The manner, the way in which a person habitually acts.

The manner, the way she talks.

The manner, the way she acts towards people.

The manner, the way she eats.

All those external gestures make the difference between a savage and a civilized person, a barbarian and a pleasant member of society.

A woman with pleasant manners is a delightful person to have around. A woman without pleasant manners can be a shrew, a harridan, a back-fence gossip, a rude, ill-bred, fish-wifely, gutterish person.

So you might nicely do a little listening to her voice and the way she speaks. You will have to listen to that voice for the rest of your days. Good grammar? Pleasant modulation? Sharpness of tone? Sudden squeals or blasts or outcries of rage or indignation? Too many words for too few ideas? No words at all, or so few that you question if she has ideas?

Does she say “thank you” for your gifts, and say it charmingly and with real appreciation? You might notice whether “please” figures in her normal speech, not merely towards you whom she is trying to impress but towards younger children, salespeople, waiters and waitresses, her teachers.

A gentle tongue may come under the head of virtue rather than manners, yet even when a tongue is not concerned with sin, it is certainly concerned with our comfort.

Heaven deliver a good man from a complaining woman . . . from one who is a fault-finder, who constantly sees what’s wrong with everything and makes a point of laying her tongue vigorously upon it . . . from the critical woman who can spot and indicate a blemish, however small . . . from the gossip who knows only the mistakes and slips of her friends and makes them her constant subject of conversation.

A man wants to be proud of his wife. He had better notice whether he is proud of the girl with whom he goes out. There are a few tests: She should know how to meet people; she should be considerate of older people, notably those related to her; she should be easy and comfortable in a restaurant, whether it be superlatively good or fitted to his depleted wallet; she should know how to wear the clothes suited for the occasion; she should watch and learn from those who have more experience than she; if she makes mistakes, she smiles at them, apologizes briefly, puts them aside, and tries not to repeat them.


Is gratitude a matter of manners or of deep inner virtue?

You will be smart if you expect gratitude from the girl you marry. Here, as in most cases, you can judge her future gratitude to you by her gratitude to her parents here and now. The girl who accepts the money and clothes, the house and food, the schooling and fun made possible by her parents without appreciation or gratitude will later take what you give her as her right, her due, and nothing for which you should get a sign of thanks.

Listen carefully while she talks about Dad and Mother.

“Oh, Dad’s so tight. He hates to let anyone have the car . . . I had to wheedle and coax to get this new dress out of Mother. You’d think every dollar bill was skin off her nose . . . For Christmas? Oh, I got a lot of clothes and things like that; but then, a person’s parents are expected to provide those. I wish I really had rich parents.”

Listen to her as she discusses her friends.

“Hazel helped me with my book report. But then, Hazel is a bookworm; she’d rather study than go to a dance . . . I feel sorry for June; she does so well in her studies, but she simply has no charm, do you think? . . . I finally persuaded my little sister, that’s Nan, to let me take her new nylon scarf; I promised to let her have my gloves on Sunday; but I’ll keep them hid so she can’t find them; I don’t want that kid using my stuff.”


Any female is a woman. But only certain women are ladies. For your sake, I hope you have the good luck to marry one of them. For a lady has those marks of good breeding that you will want her to pass on to your children. A lady has gracious manners that make her charming in her own home, pleasant in company, a prize that you can happily bring to a party, the confident, restful companion on your arm.

A lady is careful not to hurt others; and if she inadvertently does, she is quick to apologize.

A lady is considerate of the very old, the very young, the tiresome, the sick, the weak, the underprivileged.

A lady dresses well without being in advance of the styles or holding onto a style when it has gone into history.

A lady is extreme in nothing, but notable because what she does is right.

A lady is the lovely partner of a lifetime. Pray God to send a lady your way.


You and I are males, and as males we are going to do our full share of barging into fragile objects, thoughtlessly kicking things around, saying the wrong things at the right time, making the mistakes for which we will be very sorry and of which we shall be ashamed.

Thank Heaven, we spent the early and most naturally clumsy years of our lives under a tolerant woman — our mother.

She picked us up and dusted us off and kissed us when we fell.

She gathered together our broken toys and wiped up our spilt milk and set upright the chairs we had thrown over.

She took us in understanding arms and kissed our bruises and bandaged our cuts and told us how sorry she was and how sure we wouldn’t do it again.

When we rashly jumped off the tool-shed and landed on the cement and in bed, she said not a word of reproach; but nursed us back, knowing that our stupidity had taught us all the lessons we needed.

She didn’t much like that big kid over whom we waxed enthusiastic; but when he turned out to be a bully and a thief, she didn’t say, “I knew it all the time.” She accepted our bitterness towards him as she had first accepted our enthusiasm, wordlessly and with understanding.


Well, unflattering as it may seem to our male vanity, nothing truer is ever said by a woman than, “After all, a man is just a little boy grown up”. And by “grown up”, they usually mean physically — perhaps in some ways mentally; but not emotionally and not in any mastery of our mistakes.

So you had best look to your future wife for a deal of tolerance.

Is she tolerant of her own dad, his talkativeness, his not overwhelming success in business, his tendency to brag about his golf score or what he said to the boss, his constant remembrance of the past, his repetition of the same joke on all occasions? Or does a sneer curl her lips and pity narrow her eyes when she mentions him?

You will need a lot of tolerance from your wife as the years go on. She must be willing to be satisfied with moderate success. The girl (perhaps fortunately rare) who is contemptuous of anything but the most expensive restaurants, the best seats at the ballet, the top-flight clubs, clothes from the superlative shops, may find you — intolerable.

Her tendency to despise anything but real wit may make your modest humour seem hardly worth listening to.

And if she has a biting way of tearing down the reputation of those she knows, will your reputation and fame and achievements be of so high a standard that they are out of the reach of her sarcasm and scorn?

Gentleness and tolerance in a wife are almost essential for a husband’s happiness. The girl who lacks these is going to be tough on the man she marries. He has my pity well in advance of the scorn which will blister his skin and the disapproval that will embitter and probably stunt his efforts.


The perfect wife is a strange blend of contentment and ambition. You can study that rather easily in the girl with whom you are going. Here and now she will tell you, and mean it, how much better you can do than you are doing; yet she will be pleased with what you actually accomplish and achieve.

“I’m so glad that you are going out for football. I’ll be in the stands cheering you when you snare the forward pass.” And, if the coach doesn’t object, she is around when you practise, giving you the inspiration and courage you need. But you never get off the bench for the first few games. “I know you’re chafing to get into the game; be patient; it’s an old, seasoned team, and before the end of the season you’ll be in there, and next year . . . that’s going to be your year.”

Ambition for you, yet content with what you achieve.

“Are you going to enter the short story contest? I liked that last story you published in the school magazine. Remember that plot you sketched out for me? Why don’t you write that?” You do, but when the awards are given, you get an honourable mention, and none of the cash prizes. “But remember, you are only a Junior. The winners were mostly Seniors.” Mercifully she does not mention that Sophomore who got the second prize. “Write that plot over again and next year I’m betting on you.”

Her discontent expresses itself in her ambitions for you and for herself. Her content rests upon an acceptance of whatever comes out of honest effort.


Into your litany put “From discontented wife, O Lord, deliver me!” From the woman who is always comparing unfavourably what she has with what someone else has. From the woman who is angry at the success of others. From the woman who never seems to have enough. If you give her a pound box of chocolates, her look indicates she expected three pounds in a fancy container. If Dad gives her a dyed fur, she admits pettishly that he really could afford broadtail. She does not look at what she gets but at what she has not got. She doesn’t have fun in the blessings and gifts that come her way, but is sour and resentful at the blessings and gifts that go to others.

You need not be long with a girl to measure her contentment of mind.

Her attitude towards you will soon show whether her desire for your success is pride in you and ambition for your full development, or greed and envy and an appetite for things and more things and still more things that no millionaire could ever satisfy.

You’ll catch that in the way she orders her smaller brothers and sisters around and acts towards people who wait on her.

It is tough to be tied to a bossy woman.

It is a slavery to be married to a demanding woman.

Does she now expect you to spend more than you can afford and to buy her luxuries that are clearly beyond your allowance or income?

(To be Continued)

True beauty comes from within. If that beauty is lacking, no exercise program, eating plan, or wardrobe update can put it there. No interior decorating scheme can give it to me. “The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit… is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:4 – Emilie Barnes.

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