Catholic Marriages – Together Forever
Looking at divorce rates in the United States is frustrating, especially for those trying to uphold the dignity of marriage. It would appear that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce in this nation. However, Catholics seem to be faring much better.
The last study I read, dating to late 2013 put Catholic marriages at 28%. That’s huge! While the divorce rate is still high, it’s significantly lower than the national average. Now before you slap yourself on the shoulder for having your Catholic card in your wallet, keep in mind that 28% is still ridiculously high. We need to pray for struggling marriages.
Truth is, guys, all marriages are difficult. Every couple experiences troubles in one way or another, some worse than others. It is up to the man and his wife to commit to this sacramental union before the marriage even begins. Unfortunately, we are about the only ones who still truly teach that marriage matters. For most, marriage is really just dating’s big sister. The rise of cohabitation, common-law relationships, and extramarital sexual relations do not do us any favors with regard to building a culture of marriage. From the time kids graduate high school they have seen “relationships” come and go like shifting winds. Where in the world do you think they are going to receive training counter to what they see every day at school, at work, on television, or in the movies?
It starts with us! Those of us who are called to the married life have to stand as living and speaking witnesses to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We have to show that dating is a dead end and only trains for divorce. What rule is out there that says one has to go out one on one x number of times, hold hands, kiss, make out (or more) and then decide if this is the one for you? That’s STUPID! That kind of pattern only trains you to look for the next thing coming. It only trains you to serve yourself and what you want. It does not teach you to know the person and develop a true relationship. If you ask me, dating is social masturbation and it is a waste of your time and emotions.
Oh my gosh! How in the world would I ever get to know if we are compatible?
Try spending time with someone in settings that do not put pressure on either one of you to pair off and be alone. I found in college that the best times my bride to be and I had were the times spent with our friends, playing, praying, serving, and talking. Maybe we were at a coffee house, or maybe we went bowling, or maybe we just sat around talking about our weeks and finding ways to pray for each other. Our goal was developing community not chemistry. Do you see what I’m getting at?
Seminarians tell me that the majority of their time in seminary is spent in prayer and education, not of how to celebrate Mass or how to administer the Sacraments. The bulk of the time is spent in Scripture, Theology, History, Philosophy, etc. Why? So they have a divine relationship with the vocation to which they believe they have been called. The physical part comes later, usually well after one has committed themselves to the reality of a call to Holy Orders. They have a deep relationship to Christ’s Church and to our Lord before they ever consecrate their first Eucharist. Marriage is so very similar. The majority of our time is not building sexual tension and seeking physical intimacy. We have the rest of our married lives to figure out all the great aspects of physical affection. The discernment process should be totally separated from the physical, because marriage is not a sex license. It is a total union of one man and one woman, fully giving their life and love for the good of the other forever.
Single dudes, make a stand not just for purity and saving sex for marriage. Stand for building relationships based on your mutual love for Jesus Christ and His Church. Serve together. Pray together. Learn cool stuff together. Operate in groups so you are meeting all sorts of folks. Build that community and intimacy by investing your life in the lives of others. Stay away from the pressures to get physical and pair up. Hold high your standard of the perfect wife. If you’re called to the married life, she’s out there. Start praying for her now. Pray also for yourself. Be the man she needs now.
The Sacrament of Marriage is not to be entered into lightly. That’s why I’m so grateful for all the pre-marriage programs that are out there. We’re not entering into this until things get rocky or the emotions wear off (because we aren’t training ourselves to do that now are we). We are entering into this sacrament because for the rest of our lives we are going to build, grow, and nurture this relationship with one woman, no matter what comes our way. Guys, if you can commit to that, your marriage will work. When things get rough and you get in financial binds or you experience loss, you’ll remember that you committed before God and everybody that you were going to stick with this. That grace received in the Sacrament will continue to work in you to resolve differences, overcome obstacles, and grow in love every day. It’s hard work, but man is it awesome.
We believe as Catholics that marriage is not a contract between two consenting parties. Marriage is a sacrament, a total self-giving union between a man and a woman. Marriage is an image of Christ and His Church and it is always open to welcoming new life, always ready to work to make things right, always willing to seek and keep Christ at the core of everything they do. The sacrament doesn’t wear off, nor can it be broken. Matrimony means work, but it is work well worth the effort.
I encourage men discerning married life to contact me, not because my marriage is the pinnacle of success, but because I believe I do have a balanced perspective. I will tell you right now that I’ve made a boatload of mistakes as a man and as a husband, but we have worked together as husband and wife to go through a lot together. We’re committed to this forever and we want to be an example to our kids. My parents gave me that same great gift, and I continue to learn from them. I’d love to have the chance to talk to you about the realities of married life and how great it can be.
Don’t forget to pray for your spouse, either your wife to be or your wife. If you’re discerning Holy Orders, know that your prayers for your wife to be are prayers for the Church, so regardless of which way God leads you, prayer for your wife will work for you, man.
Posted on May 30, 2014, in Catholic Belief, Catholic Family, Catholic Husbands, Catholic Manliness, Personal Witness, Sacraments of the Catholic Church and tagged catholic divorce, catholic fathers, catholic husbands, catholic marriages, divorce rate catholic. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.