Countless articles, memoirs and studies explore why so many marriages in our society deteriorate and ultimately fail. Just recently, a blog post at USA TODAY by Anthony D’Ambrosio gained attention for identifying the top five reasons that marriages don’t work: intimacy issues, financial strife, failure to truly connect, desire for attention, and an obsession with social media. These factors woven through our society contribute to a rocky foundation for marriage, predispose couples to walk the path to divorce, and directly contributed to the unraveling of his own marriage, according to D’Ambrosio, a 29-year-old.
It’s disheartening to read personal stories of broken relationships, and it’s even more disheartening to see many couples seeking to avoid the infamous “D” word by not getting married at all. The marriage rate is at the lowest point in more than a century. Recently Pew Research Center found that in 2012 1-in-5 adults 25 and older have never been married; in 1960, only about 1-in-10 adults in that age range had never been married. Experts point to the latest economic recession, career-driven young adults and the rise in cohabitation as key factors.
It seems to me that married couples, in the face of such grim marriage trends, can look to the varied reasons why marriages don’t work, or they can instead focus on why marriages do work, especially those rooted in faith. Catholic marriages certainly aren’t immune to the challenges that secular couples face, but for Catholics committed to our faith, there are many reasons why faith-filled marriages can work:
An understanding of Theology of the Body. St. John Paul II’s vision of the human person shapes our view on human sexuality, drawing our focus to the dignity of the whole person. We see love as a self-gift, and don’t separate the body from the heart in the fashion of the world around us.
Less focus on material worth. Finances can place huge stresses on married couples, including Catholics, but our faith calls us to prioritize service to each other and our communities. We know that our true treasures lie in heaven, not in the size of our homes, the cars we drive or the vacations we take.
Deep marital intimacy and prayer. Even surrounded by the noise of technology, we actively seek true relationships with our spouses. We know that texting and email can never replace a heartfelt conversation, and that conversation continues through an active prayer life.
Desire to love. The “all about me” culture has our peers clamoring for non-stop attention. Within the Sacrament of Marriage, however, we turn our efforts to loving our spouse. We die to ourselves every day for the sake of our spouses and, in turn, they do the same for us.
Commitment to protecting our marriages. Marriage is sacred and must be protected to succeed. We faithfully guard the bond we have with our spouse and prevent outside factors, like social media, from infiltrating our marriages.
Marriage does work when appreciated for all that it is. Living out your wedding vows and continually working to maintain your marriage shows the world that it’s not about you individually or even about your spouse. It’s about God. He’s given you both marriage as a gift, a place where the Holy Spirit can guide each of your choices and your hearts. As witnesses to the transformative power of a sacrament and the blessings that flow from faith, you can, together, change the world by building a culture of faith-filled marriage.