I had not seen Kate in over a decade. I officiated at her wedding over 15 years earlier. She is divorced. "Didn't work out…Different ways…Fell out of love…." I could have written the conversation before it started. It mostly follows the same screenplay. It made me sad.
I know that I am not responsible for the commitment others make or the revocation of that commitment. But it bums me out to see so many fail. I try hard to avoid judgment. I really do not know what goes on between the spouses I marry. Yet, I invested a lot of time and energy in order to give the marriage a great trajectory. Why so many "burnouts?" I am willing to bet that no two people marry with the hope of divorcing. I fear we live in a world that espouses "family values" while, at the same time, undermines marital relationships through elevating all other pursuits as needing attention right now.
The Church requires I meet with couples before the marriage in order to connect them with values and a power that transcends affection for the days affect wanes (which it will.) All say the church and God will be at the center of their relationship. I sense that they put up with me in order to get married. Soon after the wedding, I cease to see one or both of them. Often, I hear of trouble. I call. They need to work it out outside the church, they say. Professional help, they claim, is too expensive. The kids will be all right.
Marriage is meant to reflect the magnetic attraction, the no-matter-what love, Christ has for his Church, his Bride. Christine and I have discovered that marriage breaks when "I need" trumps "How may I serve you." When "You owe me" outstrips "I forgive you."
If you are married, give it the attention it needs. Work it out with the Church as helper. Pray together. If your marriage is in trouble, get help no matter what. If you are not married, support a marriage close to you. Pray for the marriages, regardless of how they look to you, that intersect your life. Give a couple the gift of taking care of their kids and get them out on their own. Christine and I invested thousands of dollars in our marriage through having a sitter on a weekly retainer (even if we could not use the sitter) and using the sitter at least three out of four Fridays. We spend thousand of dollars and hours on a perfect wedding day but it is the life-long marriage that is meant to be God's gift.