In the face of such pressures, the Church urges married couples to focus their lives around their exclusive commitment to their spouse, and to love and care for the new, immediate and extended family that their marriage brings about.
The 'grace proper to the state of matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity' so they may 'help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children' (Catechism 1641).
A marriage is as much a journey of faith and trust, as it is of love. A complete marriage is (normally) the adventure of sharing all the stages of one’s adult life – youthful romance, parenthood, middle- and olderage – with the one person to whom one dares to entrust one’s heart.
Like every lifelong commitment, marriage is a journey into the unknown, which involves constantly letting go of the past to embrace the future; it is a journey into the truth of who one is, and the truth of who one’s spouse is. Christians recognise in this journey the Easter pattern of death and resurrection, and the mystery of Jesus Christ in their lives.
Indeed, many couples find that it is only when they have reached a point of weakness, crisis or failure – of crucifixion – in their marriage that they truly surrender to God’s grace present in the sacrament, and then begin to live their marriage at a new depth.
While the current acceptability of divorce has enabled some individuals, especially women, to escape from destructive situations, it has also made it easier for many people to leave their marriage for less serious reasons.
The Church urges people to remember that the stable, life-long commitment of marriage will protect the integrity of a couple’s sexual intimacy and enable their union to symbolise the faithful love of Christ for his Church.