Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family --a domestic church." -Pope John Paul II
For Catholics, marriage is a sacrament. A loving, faithful, permanent union of husband and wife mirrors Christ’s sacrificial love for us; through marriage we also experience his Grace. The Catholic tradition has always understood marriage as a natural relation as well. People of all faiths can get married and their marriages matter to God, children, each other, and the community. Marriage helps create and care for the next generation, helping to satisfy men and women’s deep human longings for connection with each other, and children’s longing to know and be known by their own mother and father. Marriage works by fostering commitment, trust, fidelity and cooperation between the sexes
- God's INTENTION: The community of love in marriage is one of the deepest sources of happiness... Marriage is much more than just a religious ceremony or a validation of a relationship. In the Catholic Church, Marriage between two Christians is seen as a sacrament: an effective sign of God’s grace, given to us by Christ, and entrusted to the Church for the purpose of sharing in the divine life... The bride and the groom, in committing to a covenant relationship (symbolized in the exchange of consent, or vows), pledge their selfless love for each other before God and the Church. This selfless love models and makes present the love of Christ, who gave himself in love for his people.
- In the Scriptures the relationship between God and God's people is often described in terms of a marriage. The early Christians, reflecting on Christ's love for us, also used this image. Christ and the Church embrace in mutual love and self-giving, even as do husband and wife (see, for example, Ephesians 5:21-33). "'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31-32)... Love without an unqualified commitment betrays the very essence of love. He who refuses to commit himself (or who breaks a commitment in order to start another relationship) fools himself. He confuses the excitement of novelty with authentic happiness.
- Cohabitation has increased drastically as our society has become more permissive. Some motives: Convenience, economy, discernment... Some disadvantages: Higher risk of divorce, more problems in the relationship, bad effect on children, strained relations with families and friends, violation of conscience... Cohabitation is not an official impediment to marriage in the Church..
- Same-sex unions are opposed by the Church... The U.S. bishops' statement, while it upholds marriage, does not condemn homosexual people... As created, men and women are different from but made for each other. This complementarity, including sexual difference, draws them together in a mutually loving union that should be always open to the procreation of children... Across times, cultures, and very different religious beliefs, marriage is the foundation of the family. The family, in turn, is the basic unit of society. Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance... The state has an obligation to promote the family, which is rooted in marriage. Therefore, it can justly give married couples rights and benefits it does not extend to others. Ultimately, the stability and flourishing of society is dependent on the stability and flourishing of healthy family life.
- Divorce does not necessarily make unhappy people happier. In one national study, adults who were unhappy in their marriage and divorced were not as happy as people in unhappy marriages who stuck it out for five years.... It is common for couples to go through “patches” of unhappiness, but also common for marriages to go from unhappy to happy again.
- The Church recognizes that married couples have always experienced problems that threaten their union, such as jealousy, infidelity, and quarreling. These issues result from personal sin and original sin, which disrupted the unity between man and woman that God intended. Nevertheless, God’s plan for marriage continues and God will provide the mercy and healing that couples need to sustain their marriages... No one is expected to remain in an abusive marriage... The Church encourages Catholics who are divorced to remain close to the Lord through the sacraments, especially Holy Communion.
- Some Catholics have divorced and remarried civilly. In these cases, the Church does not consider the second marriage valid... A separated or divorced person should live in a way that reflects the fact that they're still married. They shouldn't marry, live with, or even date someone else. To do so would be adulterous. Someone who is divorced or separated should be celibate.
- Annulment is NOT divorce. It is a determination by the Diocesan and Arch-Diocesan Tribunals that a sacramental marriage never existed in the first place. Something necessary for a valid marriage was missing. Annulment is a matter of Church law. Children of a marriage that's determined to be invalid by a Catholic annulment, are still legitimate. (Code of Canon Law, canon 1137)