Why is it that so many marriages – despite careful planning, faithful promises, and the best of intentions – end in divorce?
Research often points to inadequate communication skills, lack of education, or insufficient finances as the reason for divorce. So does that mean that if a hardworking couple has amazing communication skills and an impressive investment portfolio the are guaranteed to avoid divorce? Though these factors would certainly be helpful, they are not enough to sustain and support a marriage. A wise builder does not construct his house on top of his tools, but rather on a solid foundation. In the same way, couples should be cautious not to focus solely on feelings, good intentions, techniques, and resources when attempting to strengthen their marriage. Rather, it is a strong foundation that creates a lasting marriage that can flourish.
After all, most of us want our marriage to thrive, not just survive! God is not only the divine architect, laying out the blueprints for a strong and lasting marriage, He is also the One who nourishes and perfects the love between spouses.
“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
In other words, a marriage without God is much like a house without a foundation. It is a home without love, because God is love (Cf. 1 John 4:8). If a married couple wishes to be united in love, they must first be united in Christ.
How can be become more firmly rooted in the vine, so that our love bears lasting fruit?
St. John Paul II proclaimed that “prayer,” the “Eucharist,” and the sacrament of “Penance” are “infallible and indispensable to form the Christian spirituality of conjugal and familial life.” It is through a relationship with God and the exercise of spiritual disciplines that we can become more like Him.
He invites us to turn our hearts to Him in prayer, be purified and healed through His mercy in confession, and be strengthened, filled, and united to Him in the Eucharist. In drawing closer to our Lord and truly being one with Him, we will be able to love those whom we have vowed to love. We can then accept lovingly the lives God gives to us, rise above the struggles and hardships, and live a marriage full of life and love.