Will you love, honor, and cherish each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer?
No matter which way the toothpaste is squeezed, whether or not the dirty clothes end up around the house or in the hamper, with or without your in-laws visiting, during football season, through job changes, emotional changes, body changes… for the rest of your life?
Did we realize that all this and much more was included in our vows? Couples stand before the altar, in love, with hope and so much excitement in their eyes, before God and all those present, to profess their “I do” to one another. So why is it that so many marriages, even after all the good intentions and faithful promises, end in divorce?
Studies often point to inadequate communication skills, lack of education, resources, families of origin, and poor effort as reasons for divorce. However, even the most well-educated, hard-working, “perfectly compatible” couples, each from wonderful upbringings, are not given a divorce-free guarantee.
Talents, skills, treasures, and techniques may be great to have, and these surely come in handy, but they are not on what a marriage should be built. Just as a wise builder does not construct his house on top of his toolbox, but on a solid foundation, so too must spouses build their marriage on steadfast unshakeable ground.
It is in Chapter 7 of Matthew’s gospel, where the Lord teaches us just how to do that: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
For a marriage or family to weather the storm, to stand the test of time, to overcome all the sick times, bad times, and make it through the rough times… it must be built on God.
We all want our marriages to do more than just survive; we want them to thrive! Not only is God the divine architect laying out the blueprint for this strong and lasting marriage, He is also the one who nourishes and perfects the very love of the spouses and gives us the grace to love as He loves!
Jesus says to all of us, “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. Because, without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
What can we do to become more firmly grafted on this vine so that our love bears lasting fruit? In his Theology of the Body, St. John Paul II proclaimed to spouses that “Prayer,” the “Eucharist,” and the sacrament of “Penance” are the means “infallible and indispensable to form the Christian spirituality of conjugal and familial life” (126.5). For a married couple to be united in love, they must first be united in Christ. Spouses must turn to God in prayer, receive Him worthily in the Eucharist, and seek His forgiveness and mercy in Confession. We may not be able to order a divorce- free guarantee online but we can be grafted more closely to Him and receive all that we need for a healthy and nourishing love. God is so good, and He richly provides for us. It is our job, then, to take him up on all that He offers.
In an effort to help married couples hear and respond to this amazing invitation and to provide a resource for important work of the Church to strengthen marriages, we created a brand new six-part marriage enrichment series called, “United in Love, United in Christ.” It provides practical steps in building on what St. John Paul II taught to be the “infallible” and “indispensable” way to a truly united and faithful love.
Please check out United in Love, United in Christ for more info.
Thank you for reading, God Bless.