Why Do Marriages Fail? Here’s One Often-Overlooked Root

101614The news from the Synod this day is improved. Thanks be to God, many, yes many of the bishops and synod participants have articulated how deficient and misleading the “rough draft” Relatio was. Keep praying! The struggles to lay hold of and articulate with clarity God’s stunning teaching on Holy Matrimony and family in a doubtful world will continue.

But, frankly, even at the moment Jesus uttered his unequivocal insistence that marriage was one man and one woman in an indissoluble bond, many were stunned and scoffed, If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better never to marry! (Matt 19:10) Jesus, of course, did not back down and went on to reiterate His teaching while also affirming that celibacy (never to marry) was a positive, not negative role (Matt 19:11ff).

Our struggle to recapture and reaffirm without compromise what Jesus taught is surely challenging, especially in a climate in which so many marriages fail. I was listening to an interview yesterday in which the question of how to stem the tide of failed marriages was pondered. All the usual remedies were discussed: better catechesis, better marriage preparation, more sermons on Holy Matrimony, etc. But both participants in the interview concluded that, in a culture as troubled as ours, the “education/catechesis” model was going to have only limited effects. Both agreed that deeper cultural changes and healing would be required in order for marriage (and many other things) to recover substantially and statistically.

Let me ponder with you a deep but often unexplored root of the trouble with marriage today. It is interesting because it actually emerges from something good, but something that is good in a detached and therefore unmoored sense: our high idealism about marriage. Let me explain.

We live in times that have become quite cynical about anything being good or noble or pure. But many today still have an extremely high ideal for marriage: that it should be wonderful, romantic, joyful, loving, and happy. Yes, this is quite an ideal, rather rooted in the dreamy wishes of romantic longing, but an ideal nonetheless. Amor omnia vicit! (Love conquers all!) Surely we will live happily ever after the way every story says!

But here’s the problem: Many want their marriage to be ideal, and if there is any ordeal, they want a new deal! Yes, many are wandering about thinking, as in the U2 song, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for!”

Yes, the problem is that there is no ideal marriage, only real marriage. Two sinners have married. A man and a woman with fallen natures, living in a fallen world, governed by a fallen angel, have entered the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. But, like the graces of any Sacrament, those of Holy Matrimony are necessary not because things are wonderful, but because they are oftentimes difficult. Marriage is meant to sanctify but, like baptism, its offered graces gradually unfold, and they do so to the degree and at the speed with which the couple cooperates with God’s work.

Real marriage is going to take a lifetime of joy and challenges, tenderness and tension, difficulties and growth in order for a man and woman to summon each other to the holiness that God gives. And some of God’s gifts come in strange packages; struggles and irritations are often opportunities to grow and to learn what forgiveness, patience, and suffering are really all about. These are precious things to learn and to grow in. Frankly, if we don’t learn to forgive we are going to go to Hell (e.g., Mt 6:14-15). Even the best marriages have tensions. No tension means no change.

This may not be the ideal, “happily ever-after” marriage, but it is the real one, full of joy, love, hope, and tenderness, but also sorrow, anger, disappointment, and stresses.

The real problem comes not from our ideals about marriage, which are good to strive for, but from the fact that we conceive of these ideals in a hedonistic and “instant-gratification” culture.

Hedonism is the “doctrine” that the chief goals of life in this world are happiness and pleasure. (The Greek word hedone means “pleasure.”) In the hedonistic view, any diminishment of pleasure or happiness is the worst thing imaginable, a complete disaster. On account of this “doctrine,” many insist on a kind of God-given right to be happy and pleased. Even many devout Christians fall prey to the very exaggerated notions of hedonism and excuse some pretty selfish and sinful behaviors by saying, “Well, God wants me to be happy doesn’t He?” And thus, when the Church or an individual suggests that perhaps someone should do what is difficult, the hedonistic culture reacts, not with puzzlement, but with downright indignation, as if to say, “How dare you get between anyone and what makes him happy!”

So, our notion of an ideal (happy, fulfilling, blissful) marriage is seen through the lens of hedonistic extremism. And thus if the ideal is not found, many sense a need, a perfect right, to end a less-than-ideal marriage in search of greener pastures.

And this is just one more thing added to our instant gratification culture of “overnight shipping,” “Buy it with one click,” and “Download now!” If the ideal marriage is not evident very soon, the disappointments and resentments come quickly.

Yes, resentments. There is an old saying: “Unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments.” How quickly our unrealistic notions of the instantly ideal, picture-perfect marriage are dashed on the shoals of reality. And thus we return to the premise: many want their marriage to be ideal, and if there is any ordeal, they want a new deal.

Somewhere, not only in the Church’s marriage preparation programs but also in our work of assisting personal formation, we need to teach and become aware that unrealistic expectations are ultimately destructive. Our ideals are not the problem per se, but we must become more sober of our conception of our ideals through the lens of hedonism and instant gratification. Growth takes time. Life moves through stages. Marriage is hard … but so is life. Cutting and running from the imperfect marriage, as too many do rather quickly today, is not the ultimate solution. Sure enough, one imperfect marriage yields another and perhaps yet another.

Rest assured, I do not sit in judgment over everyone who has ever divorced. I speak here to a cultural trend (perfectionism jaded by hedonism and instant gratification) that contributes to the perceived need and “right” to “move on” if happiness is not quickly and stably attained. In the (even recent) past we tended more to stick things out, to work through some of our differences and to agree to live with others of our differences. Life was more seen as hard, a kind of exile to endure on our way to our true homeland and to true happiness. Surely we looked to some joys here on earth, but we had more of a sense of the passing quality of all worldly things, whether good or bad. We would do well to regain something of this more sober appreciation that life here is a mixed bag; it’s going to have its challenges. Marriage is no exception. And though we may idealize it, we should be aware that we are setting ourselves up for resentments and disappointments if we do not balance it with the understanding that marriage is hard because life is hard.

Clearly there are many other problems that contribute to today’s high divorce rates. But here is one often overlooked root: many expect an ideal marriage, and if there is any ordeal, they want a new deal. (And we would do well to remember that in a world with adults behaving like this, it is the children who get the raw deal.) This is a deep cultural root of our divorce problem, a deep wound of which we should become more aware.

87 Replies to “Why Do Marriages Fail? Here’s One Often-Overlooked Root”

  1. Lyrics to the song in the video:

    I have climbed the highest mountains
    I have run through the fields
    Only to be with you
    Only to be with you.

    I have run, I have crawled
    I have scaled these city walls
    These city walls
    Only to be with you.

    But I still haven’t found
    What I’m looking for.
    But I still haven’t found
    What I’m looking for.

    I have kissed honey lips
    Felt the healing in her finger tips
    It burned like fire
    burning inside her.

    I have spoke with the tongue of angels
    I have held the hand of a devil
    It was warm in the night
    I was cold as a stone.

    But I still haven’t found
    What I’m looking for.
    But I still haven’t found
    What I’m looking for.

    I believe in the Kingdom Come
    Then all the colours will bleed into one
    Bleed into one.
    But yes, I’m still running.

    You broke the bonds
    And you loosed the chains
    Carried the cross of my shame
    Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

    But I still haven’t found
    What I’m looking for.
    But I still haven’t found
    What I’m looking for.

    But I still haven’t found
    What I’m looking for.
    But I still haven’t found
    What I’m looking for.

    1. Our Lord is correct…every sin needs to be expose!

      This is the prime example of Cardinal Kasper promoting destruction to the Church that teaches on the indissolubility of marriage:

      Go there to listen to the interview.

      Pentin interviewed Cardial Kasper on marriage:

      “The teaching does not change? – Pentin

      Kasper- The teaching does not change but it can be made more profound, it can be different. There is also a certain growth in the understanding of the Gospel and the doctrine, a development. Our famous Cardinal Newman had spoken on the development of doctrine. This is also not a change but a development on the same line. Of course, the Pope wants it and the world needs it. We live in a globalized world and you cannot govern everything from the Curia. There must be a common faith, a common discipline but a different application.”

      Ah, Cardinal applying the principle of CONTRADICTION!

      “The teaching does not change but …… it can be different.”

      AND HE IS A CARDINAL? Did anyone get that muddle?

      Doctrine can develop (a boy becomes a man… NOT…. a boy becomes a woman).

      Kasper’s proposal: a boy can become a woman.

      HA, HA! A Cardinal who doesn’t know the different between doctrine and discipline!

      What a Cardinal who doesn’t know theology?????

      This Cardinal should resign!

      1. It is my mission now to expose all heretical cardinals and bishops and get them out of the Church!

        They are working for SATANIC CAUSES! And they disrupt the unity of the Church!

        Believe me they are not helping the families. THEY ARE USERS. They use the Church for there own gain!

        Peter worked for Jesus.

        But Judas used Jesus.

  2. And so FJ Sheen said something like “marriage is humanly impossible that’s why God make it a Sacrament.”

  3. LOL @ the middle-aged celibate man lecturing people on marriage.

    Your authority on the topic is without merit.

    1. Bless you Paul. I am not sure of your age, but I want to caution you who are not a priest not to lecture me on being a priest. After all since you are not a priest you cannot say anything to me about being priest or what my duties or roles or scope of duties should be —- I am just using your logic, since you are not just like me, in terms of age or celibacy or clerical state you are just supposed to stay quiet and not lecture me on the duties of a priest. And since you are not a priest you can’t possibly know a thing about what a priest or a celibate or a middle aged man would know, so how can you say my authority is without merit. I am just using your strange logic, I’m not really this dismissive and small-minded.

      Also, I might rather you speak to the topic I have written on. I am not point here, the point is the point. Try to comment on the article, this some content to it. If you don’t like it, say what and why. Engage others here. I have had my say. I prefer when readers engage each other. Have you nothing to say to the issues raised. And if not why not? Maybe you are afraid to engage others or the issues? Not sure why, but you seem annoyed. Why is that? What’s that all about?

      1. As a “convert” Paul articulates the “voice” that often appears about priesthood. Jesus was not married but sharing the Words of the One who sent Him taught often on family, marriage and was the “true” bridegroom (John 4…) who came into the World. The Word became “flesh,” the Logos a mind of God man could apprehend. This transcendent quality of the priesthood takes TIME to grapple with, grow into the fullness of what is the meaning of TIME into eternity. Humanity bound in “time” God granted to humanity His greatest accommodation to become “children of God” and enter into His TIME. The bridge back to the Father is a journey with a support system, men who set themselves aside to assist … almost too much for humanity to comprehend but worthy of TIME to consider the Gift!

      2. 1.Please Monsignor every baptized person is a priest(ess),prophet(ess) and king(queen). Admonish Paul to be a priest who tends the many wounds of sinners and leads them to our Father’s table.
        2. Marriage can be compared to an onion that must be peeled and eaten. While peeling there are plenty of tears. When eaten the fruits are joy and growth in stature and wisdom.
        3. In other words I am married to benefit ME. Just read any divorce documents. Most likely one or both parties will thunder words to the effect ‘I suufered greatly in that relationship’. Have you ever come across ‘I caused much pain to my wife/husband? Yes we are Homo economicus.If it doesn’t benefit ME it is useless.
        4. Stories of marriages that have lasted decades commonly have a thread of GIVING. Each member kept on giving the other value.
        5. The way we have to earn our daily bread is big threat to marriage. We are advised to focus on the carreer. Countless wives have make wrenching decisions on childbirth and or childcare. Many girls are advised to been engineers,accountants,doctors and such like. When did you find girls being advised to be good wives? In such a case most likely she is told to choose between motherhood and carreer. Many boys have been left to wallow in self destructive sports,chemical dependence and plain ignorance. Not to be stupid Catholics who merely follow teachings that are followed by the teachers. Which bishop has babies to fend for? They are asked. Why follow thier teachings.
        As Christians we need to remeber the Evil One knows the strength of successful marriage. he prowls around tearing the foundations of good marriage(=Christlike love that a good hisband has for his wife and solemn obedience that a good wife has for her husband)

      3. Excellent. We have a seminarian doing his pastoral year at our parish in the Midwest and when I bitterly lament that our parish does nothing to evangelize outside our church walls he starts talking (on more than one occasion) about Monsignor Charles Pope and how he evangelized his parish by going door to door, and he would like to do that, and it is most encouraging thing that we have such a good seminarian (extremely intelligent).

      4. Priest or no priest, your article is one of the best I have ever read on marriage and why divorce is so prevalent.

        I am a married man and I know a lot of other married people and divorced people. I can honestly say that, with a few exceptions in both directions, the difference between a married person and a divorced person is that the former decided not to call the lawyer. All relationships go through hard times. It’s during those times that you have to decide whether you really meant what you said up on that altar: “through good times and bad”. The vow is written the way it is for a reason. It’s not: “I promise to be true to you as long as I’m happy.”

        1. I have been married for thirty two years. My wife and I have raised three children. I have seen how my marriage and that of my friends and family members have weathered the slings and arrows of outrageous expectations since I graduated from high school in 1970. Monsignor Pope’s assessment couldn’t be more on spot. It appears you are either inexperienced, clueless and/or dissatisfied with moral guidance or wisdom that comes with education, time, grace and age. Don’t mistake LOL with choking on your shoe strings.

          1. My wife and I have been married for 59 years and counting, with five children (four living, one dead of cancer in her mid-forties), thousands of rosaries prayed together and both happy experiences and pain.
            When we took our vows in 1955 we had been friends for about six years. I stood up in front of a bunch of relatives and friends and made some promises, including “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”.
            Whenever I have been tempted by disagreements (Get on a Greyhound Bus, go somewhere else and start over), I recall these promises. Question: Who am I? Before our marriage, I prayed for several years to have this girl as my wife. God answered my prayer with a “Yes!”.
            With physical ailments showing up, some benefits of marriage are no longer available. Who am I? Am I someone who keeps my promises? Or someone who quits “When the going gets tough”? Am I someone who keeps promises, or someone who walks away when it’s convenient?

            I know some husbands whose wives have developed Multiple Sclerosis. I know some whose wives developed Alzheimer’s Disease. Some of these gentlemen are now widowers. We also know some wives who have taken devoted care of their husbands in failing health. We also know some wives whose husbands have abandoned them after five or more children.
            My mother started having strokes when she and Dad had been married about 40 years. We saw her go downhill in her physical condition to where she could no longer feed herself or do other “physical activities of daily living” without help.
            As Dad aged, Mom had to go into a nursing home. He was living at home, but visiting her almost every day for lunch and dinner. After their oldest grandson was ordained, he came to the town where my parents lived to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving. We could tell that Mom understood; at the Final blessing, she made the Sign of the Cross. Less than four months later, the Priest-grandson presided at her funeral mass. She and Dad had been married for fifty-six years.
            Among other things, we, their children, have been inspired by the example of Dad and Mom in their marriage.
            Many people in the younger generation (Baby Boomers? Millenials?) have not prayed with an intended spouse for any length of time before marriage; have not discussed in any depth their hopes for children and families, and future living circumstances. Many do not have good examples from their parents.
            The Church has a number of good programs for engaged couples. What is available in your parish or diocese should be considered, even before a couple sets a wedding date.
            If a priest sees some marriages succeed (apparently) and some fail, IMO he is in excellent position to offer advice to a couple seriously contemplating marriage.

    2. As a man who has been married for quite some time, I think that the good Monsignor is very much on the right track here. He knows what he is talking about. There are other sources of knowledge in this world besides direct experience.

      1. I would add that a good priest, in my experience, is someone who would make a good husband/father. The priest is also exposed to and around many marriages including his own parents, siblings, extended family, friends, parishioners, etc. I speak as a long time married man who has received great help and hope from our priests.

    3. Paul,

      Like the other respondent Paul (the reasonable one), I am married and have been for almost 34 years. The good monsignor is right. It’s almost like he’s actually talked to married people. You think?

    4. It seems to me that a person who has first-hand experience in a life of total continence, self-giving, and sacrifice might have something valuable to say about any other way of life. Priests spend hundreds of hours in the confessional, hundreds more working with couples in troubled marriages, and probably thousands of hours struggling with their own weaknesses and temptations. Furthermore, they have been picked by the Holy Spirit to speak His words in a special way, sometimes to their great personal cost. Finally, although the specific activities and challenges in marriage are different than priesthood, the Lord’s demands are exactly the same in both: fidelity to vows, chastity, self-gift.

    5. Paul,

      “LOL @ the middle-aged celibate man lecturing people on marriage.”

      Does a doctor need to have cancer to be able to treat a cancer patient?

      Enabled Yoda’s Poetry Mode:

      An immature person, Paul you are.

      What you are talking about ….you know not.

      From wisdom, you are far!—Yoda

    6. LOL @ the white, healthy, non-diabetic doctor lecturing me on taking my insulin.

      His authority is without . . . Oh wait, he prolly knows what he is talking about. My bad.

    7. Paul, you remind me of why I value great people like Msgr. Pope. Thanks for reminding me of why no one can compare to him and his qualifications.

    8. I’m a middle-aged married man (27 years) and the monsignor got it exactly right.

    9. Well Paul, if I we were to follow your logic then a psychiatrist should not give an opinion about depression unless he or she experienced depression first hand etc. LOL applies to you Paul ant not to Msgr. Pope

  4. I may have included this on a previous post, I can’t remember, but my thoughts were the same as yours eight years ago when I wrote out a prayer card to be included in our thank you’s for our 25th Anniversary celebration…in part: …..we give all praise and thanksgiving to God our Almighty Father, Jesus His only Son and the Holy Spirit for the infinite love and blessings bestowed on us and our marriage. We have been blessed with many joys, happiness and wonders, but have also been allowed to endure struggles, disappointments and sorrows. Without Christ at the center of our marriage success might not be ours. Each day we renew that same “I Do” for, as we have come to know, love is a choice we make with each new day….

    The other thing that came to mind is the constant mantra I hear in today’s culture…how much we deserve…we deserve better, we deserve the best, we deserve more and so on. Today’s culture do not like to have anything to do with the Cross, with suffering. Those are considered negatives, an impediment to happiness. With that in mind a strengthened marriage is nearly impossible.

  5. This Paul is really the one to be laughed at. No class.

    Anyway, we are married for thirty seven years and we are stil working it out and still after each other’s neck in our flimsy quarrels and disagreements and misunderstandings and disregard of each other’s feelings and … etc, etc. and we know that it will take a forever to be able to have an idyllic marriage. But ‘the point is the point,’

  6. Middle-aged father of four here, and therefore have some authority on the topic in question, and I agree with everything the celibate wrote. And somehow the celibate is able to write about it better than I could hope to.

  7. Msgr Pope stated: “Somewhere, not only in the Church’s marriage prep program, but also in our work of assisting personal formation we need to teach and become aware of the ultimately destructive notion of unrealistic expectations.”

    I totally agree, and think it should be taken a few steps farther along:

    1) More intense preparation of children (in a parish-managed program, not just in Catholic schools) regarding the objective of being a husband/wife and father/mother or celibate at earlier ages;
    2) A Church-suggested program for courting and spiritual assistance during that process to help children remain oriented on the fullness of matrimonial marriage and family instead of the emptiness of dating (for the wrong reasons) – and implementation of this through a parish-managed program, not just in Catholic schools;
    3) A deliberate program for the local parish (pastors, priests, deacons) to accompany all Catholic marriages in the first 5 years to insure proper help in the couple’s struggle to grow together. If the couple moves, making formal reassignments to a new director at the parish where they are moving. Keep track and pursue and counsel.

  8. I see the crisis in marriage as a crisis of maturity. We are a petulant and perpetually adolescent society who refuses to grow up or grow old. Maturity is the key to life. The crisis lies in the attitudes that men and women have today; they refuse to act like responsible adults. An example is a scene from the movie, Moonstruck in which an immature professor asks Lorreta Casterini’s mother whether he could come up to her home for a drink. She politely says no and when he asks why she responds that she “knows who she is”, implying that she is a married woman who does not cheat on her husband. We would do well to know who we are, whether in the single life, married or religious life and embrace the responsibilities that come with that knowledge.

    1. “I see the crisis in marriage as a crisis of maturity. We are a petulant and perpetually adolescent society who refuses to grow up or grow old.”

      Sure sounds like Paul’s reaction above….and I add to that: The preference for hit-and-run, name-calling and irresponsible ridiculing for the sake of shaming.

      How progressive and modern of you, Paul..

      SPOT ON, MSGR!

  9. My parents were married 47 years before my father died. Our family had a terrible cross of both physical and mental illness with my mother being hospitalized many times for her sickness. In all of this, my father always had us pray the Rosary together every night and there is no doubt in my mind that this is what kept our family together. Fr. Peyton said that the family that prays together stays together. Eternal words of wisdom for families who are struggling.

  10. Brilliant Monsignor it’s a great reminder. I remember reading that co-habitating couples that get married divorce very frequently. It puts the lie to the idea that getting married first is more risky because you don’t know the other person well enough. That was a common excuse a while back for cohabitation. What’s interesting, to me at least, is that the rest of the equation is completed by your analysis: unrealistically high expectations undermine marriages. So even though the partners had lived together and knew each well they still had/shared a fantasy about how their marriage would be.

    So any ideas about how to help make expectations realistic without making marriage less attractive? Marriage can be very beautiful. Mine has been very good. It’s the source of great joy (my conversion and my children). It’s better than I deserve, but it’s not as if there aren’t all the ordinary daily problems. I think the example of successful marriages and the mentoring of young couples by older ones is a great aid. My in-laws were helpful in that way. When we got married as part of the marriage prep we met with an established couple from the parish. Maybe your experience as pastor would help here.

  11. I have heard of schools, colleges and universities for any proffession on earth. Is there a school,college or university for Marriage?
    Could it be the marriage of our parents?

  12. Such an important and well handled approach to this topic.I, too, am married, and can attest that everything you say is true. I am so thankful for the blessings I receive every day in my (imperfect) marriage. I don’t deserve
    these blessings, making them all the sweeter.

  13. Msgr. Pope, that was beautifully and insightfully put into words. Our Lord has shone you great wisdom.

  14. While the issues in this post are certainly part of the problem with marriages nowadays, unfortunately I believe there are issues much more serious than this that are causing marital breakdown. The data shown in this poll is truly shocking:
    Based on that poll, one can see that use of pornography and infidelity is rampant in marriages today, even amongst so-called Christians. As a betrayed spouse myself, I can personally attest how utterly destructive such behaviors are towards marriage. Being betrayed by one’s spouse is as emotionally painful as facing a death of a loved one or something similar. It is extremely difficult to save a marriage where these behaviors exist. So I think the issue is not merely that people desire ideal marriages, but that many marriages are under direct assault by serious sins committed by one or both of the spouses.

    Although philosophically I sympathize with the traditionalist position in the Synod on the Family, for the reasons I have just cited, I also understand Kasper’s arguments too. In the case of a betrayed spouse who was abandoned irretrievably by a wayward spouse, it seems to be fairly harsh justice to say that the betrayed spouse can basically never have a second chance at marital love again, even though the betrayed spouse may have been completely innocent in the failure of the marriage. Obviously there is the annulment process as a partial remedy to this, but there are surely cases of valid marriages where one spouse simply gets corrupted over the years and abandons her vows. How best the Church can address such situations in a just yet merciful way is something I don’t have a good answer for either.

    1. In the case of a betrayed spouse who was abandoned irretrievably by a wayward spouse, it seems to be fairly harsh justice to say that the betrayed spouse can basically never have a second chance at marital love again, even though the betrayed spouse may have been completely innocent in the failure of the marriage. Obviously there is the annulment process as a partial remedy to this, but there are surely cases of valid marriages where one spouse simply gets corrupted over the years and abandons her vows.

      By your own description, in such a case, there is a VALID marriage, not a null ab intio absence of marriage, i.e. no annulment possible. Annulments are not an ex post facto proposition. Whatever may happen after the marriage vows and consumation, e.g. infidelity, divorce, remarriage, is wholly irrelevant to the question of whether there was a marriage from the beginning.

      The answer to the problem, as more and more are becoming aware, is to vastly improve the marriage preparation process. If couples are properly catechized and instructed, then no one should be able to later claim lack of consent, maturity, etc. when they later decide they want to be married to someone else.

      Of course, if civil divorce and annulments-on-demand are not available then many may choose not to get married in the first place (which may be why marriage prep is often so lax now). But by now we should have learned that we don’t do people any favors when we play fast and loose with truth, especially moral truth. We actually end up making things worse.

      1. I think pornography is related to the perfectionism unrealistically expected of marriage. The models are as perfect as surgery and air-brushing can make them. And they are always available always ready always eager. Hard for any real person to live up to.

    2. Dear Paul,
      my heart felt your pain because I too was a (multiply) betrayed spouse. The pain is exquisite. I held on through 57 years & 5 children. The kids all have college degrees and are terrific people. Four are strong practicing Catholics. One of the five is a priest today. My husband is in his 80’s today and absolutely regrets his indiscretions of middle-age. However what is important is that we held it together & the kids are great. God never promised me or you a rose garden; I wish that I’d had one but this is the real world and bad things happen to good people. It’s all about free will. I’m not a masochist but I would marry him again because these great children have made it all worthwhile. I believe that my priest-son has a unique value to today’s Catholics that he serves as a priest because he understands the pain for betrayed married people.

  15. As always Msgr. Pope, the pleasure is all ours. Great insight.

    My wife and I will be celibrating 28 years of marriage next month and you need 3 important things in a marriage 1) God, 2) Communication & 3) a Sense of Humor. Actually you only need God, but a sense of humor really helps!

    God Bless you and Keep writing about Marriage no matter what the Chuckleheads say.

  16. “Yes, the problem is that there is no ideal marriage, only real marriage. Two sinners have married. A man and a woman with fallen natures, living in a fallen world, governed by a fallen angel, have entered the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. But, like the graces of any Sacrament, those of Holy Matrimony are necessary not because things are wonderful, but because they are oftentimes difficult. Marriage is meant to sanctify but, like baptism, its offered graces gradually unfold, and they do so to the degree and at the speed with which the couple cooperates with God’s work.

    “Real marriage is going to take a lifetime of joy and challenges, tenderness and tension, difficulties and growth in order for a man and woman to summon each other to the holiness that God gives.”

    * * * * * * * * *

    EXACTLY! Thank you Msgr. Pope for articulating so well what we try to articulate. My parents have been married for fifty four years now, and frequently after Mass I’ve been asked to bless many marriages over these last few months anywhere from ten, twenty, twenty-five, and just recently sixty years!

    You are so right. We’re no longer living the mystery that is humanity and relationship, which is sanctified by the Encounter with Jesus Christ in the sacrament.

    Marriage is natural for man and woman; Jesus Christ has made it super-natural for us!


  17. God bless you, Msgr. Pope. Very well said. Keep blessing us with your teachings. I only wish that I had the time to translate all of them into Spanish; with your permission, of course. I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty of translating your blog post, “Not Only Divorced from Marriage, but from Reality”, giving you all the credit, of course. I will gladly email you a copy, if you wish. Our Pastor and I used it in a marriage prep class, towards the end, so they would see the heartache divorce causes and not to even think about it. They appreciated it.

    May God continue to bless you with strength and courage to proclaim his saving truth.

  18. Here’s the bottom line concerning the Kaspar proposal: he doesn’t really believe Jesus’ words that the second “marriage” after divorce constitute’s adultery. Yes, he says, the first marriage is indissoluble. No, he says, the second union can never be considered “sacramental.” But, he says, in some cases we can’t really call it adulterous (e.g., enough time has passed, relative innocence for the breakup of the prior marriage, penance done, and voila – at some point we declare the second union as no longer an adulterous one. For me, that just doesn’t comport with Jesus’ words. But Cardinal Kaspar (and Pope Francis?) seem to think Jesus’ words were meant for a different time and place (i.e., 1st the Judaic and Hellenistic world of the 1st Century, but have now reached their expiration date. The world of Jesus was “clear” but the modern world is more complicated. Thus, we here Kaspar saying the teaching “doesn’t change” but it can be “different.” He’s essentially saying that if Jesus were with us today he would teach something different that what is in the Scriptures. See Kaspar’s incoherent answers below.

    But people feel the Church’s teaching is going to be undermined by your proposal if it passes, that it’s undoing 2,000 years of Church teaching. What is your view on this?

    Well nobody is putting into question the indissolubility of marriage. I think it wouldn’t be a help for people, but if you look to this word of Jesus, there are different synoptic gospels in different places, in different contexts. It’s different in the Judeo-Christian context and in the Hellenistic context. Mark and Matthew are different. There was already a problem in the apostolic age. The Word of Jesus is clear, but how to apply it in complex, different situations? It’s a problem to do with the application of these words.

    The teaching does not change?

    The teaching does not change but it can be made more profound, it can be different. There is also a certain growth in the understanding of the Gospel and the doctrine, a development. Our famous Cardinal Newman had spoken on the development of doctrine. This is also not a change but a development on the same line. Of course, the Pope wants it and the world needs it. We live in a globalized world and you cannot govern everything from the Curia. There must be a common faith, a common discipline but a different application.

  19. “many expect an ideal marriage, and if there is any ordeal, they want a new deal.”

    This remains my favorite quote from your wedding sermons, pre-Cana instructions and feast of the Holy Family homilies.

    Thanks for this terrific post. May many more couples get the * real deal * from you for their wedding (or not) preparations and nuptials.

  20. Msgr. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. as a married man of 20 years, my wife and I have been navigating rough waters for the last three. We are hanging in there but in this ridiculously anti-family, anti-marriage culture it is not always easy to be in the minority. Your article rings so true, we married Catholics must remove societies blinders and live according to the reality of Christ and his Church. Again, thank you for the advice. Keep it coming. Blessings, Scott And Sharon

  21. First time reader here. Great article, Msgr. I’d like to add that unrealistically high ideals about marriage contributes to the breakdown of the family in another way. More and more people are putting off marriage, even after they have children, because it’s seen as something you do once you’ve “arrived.” And for many, that moment never comes.

  22. Totally agree. All the sacraments and preparation in the world are no match for the pressures that expectation exerts on a marriage, in combination with our culture of instant gratification and a [I believe now universal] legal regime of no-fault divorce. It’s amazing that anyone stays married under those conditions.

    If conservatives think the primary enemy of marriage is its redefinition to include same-sex unions, they are sorely mistaken. The redefinition of marriage is just a minor [rainbow of a] brushstroke on the canvas that began being painted with the divorce of Henry VIII.

  23. By Paul’s pretzel logic, only females can be OB-GYNs and deliver babies, only rape victims can condemn rape, and only celibates can credibly talk about singlehood. Please. The uncomfortable fact is, celibate priests are BETTER able to adjudicate and counsel troubled marriages because they can’t project their own marital/spousal biases into the therapeutic process. They are the closest thing to objectivity there is.

  24. My response to people criticizing priests for commenting on marriage is this. Many women go to male ob/gyns. They have never had a baby, right??? I could give other examples.

  25. If I had to take a (unlearned) guess of what Pope Francis is trying to to accomplish, is to find a more humane way to bring people who have left, or never belonged, back into the Church.

    Luke 11:42-46
    The Lord said:
    “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”

    Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

    Do you suppose this may be bothering him?

  26. ‘I haven’t found what I am looking for ‘ – good choice of words that get marriages in trouble, like it did our first Parents Adam and Eve – was it infinite love /power they /Eve was after , all along not seeing the love , in the Father’s eyes , who walked with them , in the cool of the day ..

    Would the antidote for the troubles also have a lot to do with healing of the Father wound – which is said to be at root of most issues – wound of not having rceived love that reflects that of The Father, which ,ofcourse would include the Mother love as well !

    Having heard how lust is the other side of hatred , one can wonder if what motivates many a romantic pursuit atleast in the beginning , is efforts to deal with deep seated hatreds towards parental figures , from real /imagines rejections and getting another to make up , therein failing , unless given the grace to slowly look deep within ( through the compassionate eyes of The Lord, if one has made efforts to turn to Him ) to see areas of idolatry / lust for self and its many faces , in both parties and even all around !

    Mother Church ofcourse gives avenues for rehabilitation , which inlcudes the life giving sacrament of good confession ( thank you Rev.Msgr and all priests ! )

    ‘Honor your mother and father that all may go well with you ‘ – wonder if many couples forget that part , even if parents are deceased , looking to repent for all ccasions of esp. any neglect of them even at emotional level ;

    good thing, is , God is beyond time and we can always receive their mercy and forgiveness by repentance , asking for their blessings on both parties and coming generations, even seeing both sets of parens , behind the blessing raised hand of The Lord, such as in the Divine Mercy image and their love pouring in, along with the Father’s love, through the rays that radiate from His Heart , with the couple prostrate at His wounded Feet , from which emanates the healing rays , for all the times we have run from His love and its discipline , wounding ourselves and others !

    Such an approach then can bring healing to relationships with siblings /others on both sides as well , who also come with their baggage of issues and often even seemingly set by the enemy for torpedo attacks, thus needling deliverance too , through prayer and good living ; good thing is , once one gets to see the larger picture and how God tries to be kind and patient , helping through prayers of many persons, such as the priests , one begins to see that the toughness of problems is there because there is also the potential for much good ! ,

    The generational aspect of healing can go back to many generations, bringing all to Him – were there issues against the Holy Church and Her priests by ancestors ,from having been in divided Churches etc ; which still plays out as animosity or contempt towards them and The Church and need to be repenetd for asking for mercy !

    Could some of our ancestors have been on the beastly side that chose to’ grind up’ St.Ignatious of Antioch and would that be a reason that Mother Church recommends veneration of praying to saints , inorder to recieve their help , like the prayer of Job for his ‘friends ‘ !

    ‘ Motherhood sanctfies womanhhod ‘ – such a focus , instilled early on, might keep many marriages in the straight and narrow path and thank God for the many religious , who through their spiritual motherhood has been our mothers of bringing in the Holy Spirit love and power !

    The irony here seems to be that , Islam somehow seems to have gotten this part of the book pretty right ;
    having seen how the Muslim women in holy land seem carefree and happy whereas the men , even young boys , seemigly hate filled , toting their guns around , had wondered what is the secret of such disparity .
    .lately , wondering if it could be the humility ( ? given by Bl.Mother ! ) that Moslem women , who are promised to be one of 72, in the hereafter , still choosing to be faithful to God , through prayer , fasting , child bearing ..
    ( unsure that I am not mistaken in their belief system here ) thus serve to be the bearers of blessings for the people !

    May we in The Church be blessed to recognise the awesomeness of our role , as members of The Family to help bring blessings for all !

  27. This very point – the artificially inflated and unrealistic expectations placed on marriage by our culture, and the more prosaic intent God had for the relationship – is the quiet message of my new novel from Ignatius Press, /The Accidental Marriage/.

  28. The silly comment from the first Paul reminds me of the current Synod. The article here is about how we can strengthen marriage but Paul has, at least to some extent, derailed the discussion. Similarly the Synod is, hopefully, called to strengthen the Church’s message on the importance of the family but it seems that it has somehow got derailed into a discussion about divorce, remarriage and Communion.

  29. True marriage occurs when a man and a woman become joined together through the sacrament of holy matrimony. If they exchange traditional sacred vow administered by a validly ordained priest in front of witnesses, they are married. The exchanging of traditional vows, i.e. fore better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, til death do us part, are part of the sacred exahange of sacred vows. What don’t we understand about this? This exchange occurs in each partner’s will. It is an act of the will to submit to this sacrament and to each other in union with Christ who said that the Church is his Bride. Does anyone really believe that the ups and downs of life and all it’s vagaries isn’t going to have an influence on a marriage? Whether you’re married, or not married, life has its problems. But sacramental marriage has the power to prevail and overcome these trials precisely because it is a sacramental union blessed by God.

  30. 35 years of marriage with lots of ups and downs including infidelity, which broke my heart. Yet, through love, committed love and forgiveness, being mindful that most infidelity is caused at its root by both parties. We learned, we cried, and most of all we loved. and forgave one another our very human failures.

    i am troubled by these statements in marriages that speaks to your fine reflection. “He/she is bumming me out. it’s getting boring, she used to be so much fun. I think i maybe need something more easy, that can lighten it up for heaven’s sake.” Bummer, he is on about this budget thing. Boring!!! I thought we were supposed to be having fun?” Now that Steve? Ya know, he just moved in down the street? A hunk and he knows how to live!”

    Msgr. Pope, you nailed it head on.True marriage has always been about giving, much more than receiving. Our self centered egocentric selfish culture refuses anything that encompasses any discomforts or sufferings. Unfortunately, it is the children who suffer the most having never been shown the priceless value of unselfish love and fidelity.

  31. It was reported the other day that about 90 percent of those who ask for an annulment “get” one, such that about 90 percent of these marriages are no marriage after all (The Washington Times citing the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown).

    In other words, according to the annulment lobby, which solicits people to petition for annulments and then hands them out like candy, it takes nearly superhuman power to for people to form the requisite consent and intent in good faith. That is, its a NEAR IMPOSSIBILITY form any marriage at all.

    If it is nearly impossible to create a sacramental marriage, at least according to the people who run our annulment factories, how many of the other sacraments we receive are null and void from the beginning? If 90 percent of the attempts at the sacrament of matrimony fail, how many attempts to baptize fail? What percentage of ordinations fail? What about the sacrament of penance? How many absolutions fail? Or is it only marriage that is nearly impossible to create?

    Or is it that there is something seriously wrong with “the system”? Talk about your idealization of marriage.

    1. Saying that if 90% of people who go through the process receive a declaration of nullity means that 90% of all marriages are null is rather silly. That’s like saying that if 90% of people referred to an oncologist receive a cancer diagnosis, then 90% of all people have cancer.

  32. A good analogy for marriage… Sand (man) is put together (holy matrimony) with heat/fire (woman) and the result is glass (two become one). Try to separate materials and you get a shattered mess! You cannot get sand and fire/heat again. Which is why sand + sand= sand and fire/heat+ fire/heat=fire/heat. No melding together to make one(matrimony)!

  33. Excellent article. I am a family law attorney. Up to my eyeballs in divorcing couples. On the front lines with a close-up and personal view of the disintegration of society. When someone is seeking a divorce, I usually do my best to talk them out of it. The look of surprise on their face speaks volumes, and I can tell that nobody has ever told them to stay married. Their priests, their families, their pastors, etc… Most claim they’re unhappy. In my experience though, both personal and professional, I’ve found that you’ll only find happiness in a marriage when you decide to stay married regardless of whether you’re happy or not. God rewards faithfulness and perseverance, eventually, with enormous joy, happiness, and love. I don’t expect Hosea was too thrilled to be told to go back to Gomer. But, I have a hunch the two of them, eventually, ended being the happiest couple in Israel. 😉

  34. “still haven’t found what I’m looking for”
    the key in this is to identify WHAT you are looking for.

    We look for many things:
    we are naturally looking for a spouse (the lord made us this way),
    but we are also looking for HIM.

    Often people fall into expecting their spouse to fill the God-shaped hole in their heart.
    What spouse can possibly do that!?
    It’s an expectation that is impossible to meet.
    So, find the Lord as well as that mate, and let each have their proper role in your life.

  35. I am truly glad that Monsignor Pope commented that there other reasons besides the one he wrote about here AND I am NOT being critical at all in saying this. I’ve seen what he’s talking about in more than a few cases. However, after six years in therapy before during and after my second annulment AND my investigation of both my previous spouses, I have learned that people don’t change, they only reveal themselves. It took me a long to learn WHY I had chosen to date and marry certain types of women. I also learned that more than a few people carry around serious, if hidden psychological problems, that may only present themselves by certain triggering events, that can occur during marryiage. OR, someone may be marrying to fill some unconscious void in their life. This is known as filling “a hole in the soul” In the case of my first wife, I learned that she she was the adult child of an alcoholic(although she kept this a secret from me before we married) and that she unconsciously was marrying to get out of a bad home life.Later , I learned that she married a much older man(18 years her senior) thus replacing the father she felt she never had. To the best of my knowledge they are still married and have been since 1980.
    As to my second wife, who treated me so badly(cheating on twice in the 4 years we lived together and slugging me during an argument), after our separation (we didn’t divorce for another 3 years)I began to try to figure it all out and talked to her closest friends and even her sister. I learned that she had been raped at age 14,never reported it and was treated for it. Soon after, she became promiscuios and began acting out in other ways(her family at that time had money)spending lots of money on things she didn’t need. Indeed, just before we split up, she declared bankruptcy because I couldn’t t get her to stop spending money on things we didn’t need. There were other things as well that I didn’t find out about OR get the true story about until AFTER she left and I was given the real story. The biggest surprise I got was to learn, from her best friend, that she had manipulated me into marrying her because she was in her 30’s and afraid that she would be known as a lesbian if she hadn’t been married at least once.
    And me? Well, I learned that I am a control freak and I learned why. I have an unseen disability that occurred during the last stages of my mothers pregnancy and NO, I am NOT blaming her. According to the chairperson of the Dept of Neurology of our state medical school, nothing that mum did during pregnancy caused it. As a result, all my life, up to that time , I had been trying to compensate for a disability I didn’t know I had. I unconsciously dated and married women who I thought would love me and compensate for this, I was wrong.
    My story is NOT as unique as you might think and it’s why, no matter how good a Pre Cana program is, UNLESS the couple TRULY KNOW who they are, divorces occur and it’s really nobody’s fault.

  36. I’m glad to have the words of the song “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” and I like the comment of “shibberoo says”. Good to reflect on these writtings. I really worry about the future of the church’s teachings on holy matrimony and other moral issues. The human nature and human heart doesn’t really change through the years, even since the time Christ walked on this earth, only the “decor” around us changed. Let’s bravely hold on to HIS teaching, ask for more humility and more than ever let’s not forget the power of prayer, especially in these very difficult times. GOD HAVE MERCY ON US POOR SINNERS, AMEN.

  37. From an African acquaintance, this is Catholic marriage preparation in addition to the usual US-type stuff:
    Both affianced have to bring certificate of regular attendance at catechetical activities (not related to marriage). In other words, they must both be in doctrinal (and probably ascetic and spiritual) formation.
    The couple must have a sponsoring couple. This couple can give them an idea of what living marriage is about, and when difficulties arise within the marriage, can advise.

    A relative of my acquaintance tired of his wife and kicked her out. His uncle allowed her to live at his place, so the relative could not charge her of abandonment, and she maintained her place in the extended family. Eventually the couple reconciled.

    I conclude that couples are too isolated from their families and parishes for anyone to successfully intervene.

  38. The best sociological data* on the causes or risk factors of divorce are ranked in this order:
    1: Divorced couple’s parents were divorced
    2: The divorced couple cohabited before marriage
    3: The divorced couple did not share the same religion
    4: One or both of the divorced couple were not devout in their religious practice.

    (Incidentally, the single most important predictor** of teenage chastity is religious commitment. )

    Each of these divorce predictors could in one way or another be consistent with the idea proposed by Msgr Pope.

    *Laumann, E. O., J. H. Gagnon, et al. (1994). The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago, University of Chicago Press

    **Martinez G, Copen CE, Abma JC. Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 23(31). 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_031.pdf

    1. While I tend to agree with a catholic psychologist, I would point out that a recent(within the last 2 years), a study published in the NYT, says that cohabitation is no longer a significant factor in divorce and that now 60% of ALL couples cohabit before marriage, apparently becoming the norm. The article quoted some couples as saying they did it because they wanted to know what it was like to live with someone day in and day out AND it they could handle it. They figured that if they couldn’t, they could just walk away without the financial and emotional expense of a divorce. Are they holding back? yes they are and from their point of view, justifiably so.

      As to, my own situation, BOTH parents were and remained married until one or both died. However, in both cases, my exes told me that they would’ve divorced, in one case her dad and in the other mother because they the marriages were dysfunctional shams. MY parents were happily married for 25 years until my dad died of cancer in 1973 at the age of 47. Indeed, I was always looking for what they had.

      David Perkins, the requirements you state, I went through the second time including the sponsoring couple and I can tell you that it made ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE in the outcome. Number 2 had her agenda and gamed it all out ( I would point out that she is very smart and is now lawyer, getting into a tough law school and passing the bar easily after we divorced), including the test we were given. it wasn’t until about a year after we were married that her gloves came off and I realized that I was in a very bad situation. The person I though I knew, turned out to be a fraud and that we had really very little in common and they she intended to bend me to her will and make me the man she really wanted. I fought as long I could and then when the showdown came and it became her or me, I knew I had to leave and did. Interestingly, her friends had me over to dinner and began to tell me things about her that were either covered up, spun or not mentioned at all. They thought that they were doing us favor by not saying anything so we could start out as a fresh, new couple without that baggage. when it all blew up, they regretted not telling me and the conversations we had after the separation and divorce were meant as an explanation and apology to me.
      To add insult to injury, five years after our divorce and annulment, a credit card she had been using to get through law school that we had had while we were married was revoked and despite the court awarding HER the debt, I got stuck paying it and I will be be until 2021.
      This may all sound unusual, but in the years since then, I have run into more than a few guys like me who were taken in, including one poor guy who’s paying child support for a child her fathered,but the mother only wanted the marriage for a child and not the marriage and who left about year after telling him that.
      finally, MOST recently, a close female friend of mine was dating a guy she met on Catholic Match. Things seemed to going very well for about 6-8 months when she got an email from his “fiancee” asking who she was and why he had her email. They met for lunch and had a long chat. Between the two of them they discovered that he had done this more than once and they were just the latest victims in his scam.

      This WHY I say that SOME divorces happen and the innocent party should be allowed to go in peace. These days, I’ve learned, unless you can afford to do a background check, you could end up in the situation I and others did and when we leave, WE shouldn’t be punished for being sucked into a fraud.

      1. W. Randolph Steele says: “..the NYT, says that cohabitation is no longer a significant factor in divorce and that now 60% of ALL couples cohabit before marriage, apparently becoming the norm.”

        Cohabitation remains strongly connected to divorce, even in the more recent research. A factor that the researchers point to is the fact that cohabitation lessens the probably of marriage. “For women, there was a continued decrease in the percentage currently married for the first time—and an increase in the percent currently cohabiting…” Thus, those in the past that might have cohabited, gotten married and then divorced, now, after cohabitation, are LESS likely to get married, and therefore do not get divorced…. this i guess is good news of sorts, except that these people continue to fornicate and never make a permanent marital commitment. The factors suppressing marriage rates, will also exert a statistical suppressing on the correlation between cohabitation and divorce.

        The bottom line is this, cohabitation suppresses the tendency to make a permanent commitment, OR to stick to a commitment permanently, once the initial commitment is made.


      2. W. Randolph Steele,

        Sounds to me like you had valid reasons for annulments. If someone hides who they really are from their spouse to ‘catch’ them, that’s a lie, and it makes the whole marriage a lie. Everyone tries to be on their best behavior during courtship, but to try to be a better ‘you’ is very different than to fake being someone that you are not.

  39. It was very important to me to marry someone who was from a committed family dynamic. His parents are going on 60 yrs; mine were committed to the end. My husband and I are now at 33 yrs. I was listening to some of my college students discussing wedding gowns. One said she would do the whole white-gown thing for her first marriage, but then a simple light-colored suit for subsequent marriages. So I asked if she thought she was going to be married more than once, and she said yes. Why?, I asked. She replied that both her parents were on second or third marriages, and almost all her friends were in similar situations. She talked about “growing in different directions.” I said marriage was work, but if you truly thought you were going to divorce the person you were marrying, you shouldn’t marry him. She replied that she wanted it all… husband, kids, dog, career. The young women truly felt the culture did not support “happily ever after” and this was just a fairy tale. I responded that every marriage has challenges, but “happily ever after” means looking back on the hard times and realizing you overcame them, working together. I feel sad that many of my students feel this way.

    1. Maureen,

      It is sad and thank you for your voice. You might have planted the seed that may sprout into a life-long marriage for this and many of the others who were present. Yes, 33 years and going strong!

  40. Thank you Msgr.
    love Arch. Sheen quote.
    You know, but try not to see problems with incompatibilities when dating your future spouse.
    there are areas of good symmetry but a knowledge of deep problematic issues.Lonliness can blind you to reality.
    And when that spouse had a mother that hates trhe Church, how much can you build on that?
    For you dear young couples, have a sense of humor, trust and pray together.
    Far more intimate than sexual relations.
    before you marry, make sure that your fiancee is a person of faith.
    Guys keep your family in first place in all matters.
    ladies, don’t be afraid to admit it when a mistake is made.
    Maybe it’s so that guys fight lust and gals fight pride as their number 1 foe.
    don’t be afraid to compliment each other and grin and bear the down days.
    Please keep trying and don’t give up.
    And stay off inrernet social sites that connect with your classmates.
    God bless you

    if both take the word Vow seriously,

  41. When a couple gets married who are already sexually active, that is the sin of fornication. If this sin is not confessed before the sacrament ,of marriage, that is a sacrilege. So if a marriage begins in serious sin, where can it go? The graces of the marriage are not there. That is why every priest must offer the sacrament of confession to the parties involved.

    Catholic Caro from Canton

    1. Agreed. though to be clear, receiving the Sacrament in mortal sin would not per se invalidate it, though surely it would have grave effects on the fruitfulness of such a marriage. I heard confessions following the wedding rehearsal, and urge all couples to get to confession shortly before the wedding.

      1. ” Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.
        Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
        For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.
        That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” St. Paul – 1 Cor 11:27-30.

        CCC: 81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.
        And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its ENTIRETY the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.
        It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. ”

        It is not pastoral, charitable, or merciful to confirm, affirm, or condone anyone who chooses to live a sinful lifestyle.
        In fact, those who do are remote participants or direct participants in those sins. They aid and abet in the sin plus can add the mortal sin of Scandal to the uncatechised, and/or the sin of Sacrilege.

        CCC: 1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
        – by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
        – by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
        – by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
        – by protecting evil-doers.”

        Repentance is required to receive God’s Mercy –
        Repentance requires:
        CCC: ” 1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place.
        Contrition is
        sorrow of the soul
        and detestation for the sin committed,
        together with the resolution not to sin again.”

  42. I think that the Church should be lobbying state legislatures to make divorce harder to get. Marriage preparation programs and other efforts by the Church to promote good marriages will go only so far. As long as divorce is easily available, some spouses will walk out on their spouses and file for divorce.

    1. As an amateur geneologist, I can tell you that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, spouses who REALLY wanted to leave, just left. Having spent the last 20 years as court staff and having talked to a half dozen Catholic judges, I can tell you that what you suggest, would only the situation worse. When I left my ex, I can tell you that NOTHING would have compelled me to go back her-EVER. If I had had to declare bankruptcy or leave the state, I would’ve done it. I vowed then that NO ONE would ever treat me that way again and to date, no has. If I had somehow been forced to stay, I’d have retaliated in a big way. In short, we’d have made each other miserable and it would have been an outgoing war.

  43. This is what may be missing –
    True love is doing whatever is necessary to assist one’s spouse in getting to Heaven for eternity.
    This must start from the beginning of courtship until death.
    Always keep your eye on the prize – HEAVEN.
    So that spouses can live as Faithful Catholics and teach their children accordingly –
    Each home must have a copy of a Catholic Bible, and a copy of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” and be read frequently.
    For quotes from our Popes about the CCC go to: “What Catholics REALLY Believe SOURCE” http://whatcatholicsreallybelieve.com/

  44. I have to be honest and say that I have not read all of the responses, but it doesn’t matter because I have read your blog and I must say it is OUTSTANDING! I have been waiting for quite some time for a priest to write and speak about the things you did in your post and they are spot on. I am saying this as one who has lived apart from the fullness of the truth of what the Catholic Church teaches on marriage and have come back to embrace and live it out and it is wonderful. No one ever speaks about the fact that we must cooperate with God in the marriage to be made available to the grace of the sacrament. Many believe that just by being in the sacrament the gracce is in effect in a marriage, not so. Keep preaching and teaching Msgr. pope!

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