How would you describe marriage?
Is it the old "ball and chain"? Is it a mere contract? Is it an out-dated formality? Is it just an excuse to have the party of your life?
Whether we are married or not, each of us has a certain vision of what marriage is. We have experienced marriage up close and personal, for better and for worse. Broken marriages can have devastating consequences for decades to come. Beautiful marriages touch our hearts and inspire dreams of lifelong happiness.
I recently saw a billboard that read: "Free to get out and celebrate your divorce, free to gain points while you do so."
It was an ad for an app that matches people with nearby taxis that are available to pick them up. It was a marketing ploy to entice people to gain points by using the app as restaurants and bars reopen.
I thought to myself: What a poor vision of marriage!
Reducing divorce to a simple question of collecting points on an app! Sure, the ad could be taken as merely a playful bit of humour, but I think there are deeper implications at play.
There has been a certain "de-marriagifying" of our society for decades now. Divorce has become more and more commonplace. It is no longer simply a final resort when things seem beyond repair; it is now perceived as an easy-out whenever the marriage is no longer desirable, for one spouse or both. We can tend to overlook the fact that a strong, stable, loving marriage is not only a source of happiness for both spouses but also the solid foundation upon which to bring children into the world.
As John Paul II liked to say, "The future of humanity passes through the family"
And the family stands on the pillars of marriage! Loving marriages lead to loving families and a more loving humanity.
Of course, we can't talk about families today without recognizing the countless single mothers and fathers who raise their children lovingly and heroically every day. We can also commend those parents whose relationship with each other has ended but who continue to cooperate to raise their kids harmoniously, even between two houses.
Every family has areas of beauty and areas of brokenness.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought tensions to the max in many families and marriages. In such tough times, the question is certainly not how to condemn the brokenness but rather how to heal it and strengthen the beauty of families.
As a teaser for more blogs to come down the road, I would like to leave you with two ways of looking at marriage that can help renew our vision of what it means for us as human beings.
1) First, marriage is fertile ground for human love.
2) Second, marriage is at the service of society.
So stay tuned for more! In the meantime, the journey of love continues for each one of us…
Julian would be happy to hear from you, with any questions, insights, or suggestions you may have regarding this blog series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julian Paparella is a theology student at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Rome. Born and raised in London, Ontario, he has worked in pastoral ministry in Montreal and Paris, especially with young people. Julian strives to communicate our faith in a way that resonates with everyday life, helping people to better experience God today. He is married to Marion.