I have been teaching my students about the Catholic Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Many of the teachings of the church have been very counter cultural and therefore a bit of a shock to them. I explained to them that Marriage, when entered into as a Sacrament, is not a contract but a lifelong covenant between the two people and God until death. We discussed the possibilities of annulment and valid reasons for them. One student asked very seriously, “What if you don’t like your spouse anymore? What if you are not happy anymore? Is that grounds for an annulment?” I replied, “No, not at all!” He looked shocked. I explained to him if you face this in your marriage then go to counselor, take classes, figure out a way to make it through it and change your relationship with that person. You don’t dump them to go find another one. I pointed out to them this is the reason why marriage preparation within the Church is so important. The marriage prep usually takes at least six months to complete and helps you to discover more about your future spouse. It prepares you to be able to have loving confrontations and how to handle problems, finances and children. Some of my students said they would not want to be married in the Catholic Church because of all the marriage prep. Like I told them, it’s more important to find out everything you can about that person before you commit your life to them.
One of the more shocking things I said to them was that dating is designed for you to find out the characteristics you want in a spouse. I think our culture has lost sight of the original reason for dating completely. Now, it seems that dating is just there to have a good time but not for such a meaningful purpose as to find one’s spouse.
I pray that our discussions will help my students to think twice about whom they marry and how much they prepare for it ahead of time. Marriage in the Catholic Church is suppose to be a mutual selfless love filled with personal and spiritual growth. Marriage is not always easy or happy, it is hard work, trust, fidelity and complete commitment to one another and to God for a lifetime.