Marriage in the twenty first century carries a more complex meaning and requires more sustained effort than the economic or social pairings of the past two decades. In past generations, the learning process used to begin at the knees of the father and mother, with their example, but the same cannot be said today with the high number of children raised in single parent families and families where children have passed through bad life-experiences.
Today’s young people are genuinely experiencing anxieties about true relationships, and questioning marriage. The latter is clearly seen in the rising numbers of couples who choose to cohabit either believing that this would help them find out whether they suit each other, or thinking that living together is enough and so they do not feel the necessity to go into the institution of marriage. Metaphorically speaking these couples try to separate the contents from the structure; they stick to what seems to be the most essential in the relationship, that is, living together and de-institutionalise marriage.
It is no news that the trend today is that the value of wholly committing oneself to anything, including marriage, is becoming highly questionable. People tend to fear that a lifetime’s commitment will mean surrendering independence and autonomy. Women want to realise their potential in life and contribute to society. Yet, when they marry, they may still have to carry the major load of looking after the children and home as well.
Since the causes of the contemporary family crisis are multiple, the solutions must be multiple as well. Inculturated religious answers might be one of them. In a world of pluralism, the Church has to keep making a continuous effort to understand the hopes and expectations of today’s people. Christianity, when properly interpreted, has many resources to offer to this marital and family crisis and change. Promoting monogamy, fidelity, permanency, and responsibility for children can be effective if done in a creative way. Pope Francis is definitely a great example in this. Helping engaged couples prepare themselves for marriage remains a vital point to be addressed.
- Seasons of Hate in Marriage, Maria Davis, 2016.
- Marriage Mytholgy and False Expectations, Tara Blanv, 2016.
- Pre-Marital Education Helps Keep Couples Together, Scott M. Stanley, 2001.
- Marriage: the mystery of faithful love, Deitrich von Hilderbrand, 1991.