Dear Doctimus Prime,
Today I wish to lay down some important information about the thorny subject of marriage:
A stage of Maturity
The three most important events in a person’s life are birth, marriage and death. The first two are greeted with great joy. The last is greeted with mixed feelings depending on how well a person has lived and what he has done for his family and society at large. Marriage signals a stage of maturity for both men and women. At this point they make a lifelong decision to be united to another person with whom they intend to share their whole life and build a family. Marriage is a special sacrament and vocation for the Christian because it underscores a lot of important points about our vocation as human beings and Christians.
Relationship of a Lifetime
The primary purpose of marriage is the reciprocal love of husband and wife. Their union is one that should last their whole lives and afford them an opportunity to strengthen each other. This means that both of them must learn to offer each other their time, gifts and affection. In the Church, marriage is a sacrament, which confers graces on its recipients. They no longer rely simply on their own strength to be faithful, loving and selfless in their new life. The rings they offer each other is a sign of their love and fidelity. They are also to welcome and educate the children born to their union.
Love Not Use
St John Paul II once wrote that “the opposite of love is use”. This is because it is possible to claim to love someone when all you are really interested in is to use them to satisfy your selfish needs for sex, financial security and status. Marriage affords these pleasures and more but it is not reducible to them. A person who only sees marriage for the good it can bring will remain lonely even when they are not alone.
Marriage underscores the equality of Man and Woman. The Book of Genesis speaks of God’s intention to create a helpmate for the man (Gen 2:18). A man and woman ought to complement each other. The man is incomplete without the woman and vice versa; their life together is something they should work out together.
A Walk Together
Marriage demands a common plan between the couple. This common plan simply means that they intend to spend the rest of their lives together. Divorce is out of the question because it should never be the plan of two adults who wish to spend their lives together to one day reject this decision. Wherever difficulties arise, it is best for both parties to seek peaceful resolutions to problems. When it becomes clear that they can no longer live together, a peaceful separation should be sought and provision must be made for children born to the union, if there are any.
Faith and Love
Experience has shown that there is a better understanding between couples who share the same faith than those who do not. This is simply because what a person knows and believes forms a substantial and foundational part of who they are. A discord on this ground will affect how they understand each other and what their children should learn. Through our faith, Jesus is able to help us because he has become one like us.
Die a Little
Jesus insists on the original plan of God for union between man and woman because many cultures and their practices has entrenched abuses and the subjugation of women (Mk 12:2-16). Divorce does not protect the interest of the woman and does not help the man appreciate womanhood. True love is only found when it is tested. Jesus offered his life to prove His love for us His Church (Eph 5:25). The least you can do is die in little ways for the sake of your spouse.
Love and Show
Children learn from what they see. There is no better legacy to pass to your children than a loving home, that they see each other as family. The love between spouses teaches their children to see themselves as inseparable parts of each other. As they grow older they are able to appreciate a life of self-sacrifice which will help them build loving homes of their own and others to offer themselves in priestly and religious consecration in the Church.
Ambassadors to Society
Marriage and the family are so important to the Church and society. We must do what we can to preserve and strengthen it. Prayer, personal development and responsibility, sound civil and religious education, a spirit of forgiveness and tolerance are steps towards reviving the marriage institution and placing it at the heart of society and the Church.