Couples urged to share their love stories to attract young people to get married

Reuters‘Nothing tells the story of true married love better than the witness of enduring human love,’ says Washington D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

While June is considered worldwide as the most popular month for couples to get married, observers in many countries are seeing fewer weddings this month and in recent months as well.

Civil and religious authorities see a trend where more and more young people are opting not to tie the knot and say "I do." Experts say there are many reasons behind the avoidance of marriage. These could include education, career goals, finances, and fear of divorce.

Another factor hindering couples to get married is an "overarching cultural bias" against the Christian and traditional definition of marriage, according to Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.

"The current culture presents marriage as a coming together of any two people for whatever duration of time and usually in the context of sexual satisfaction," he told the Catholic News Agency.

"This understanding is detached from some basic human realities such as complementarity, lifelong commitment, a marriage bond that endures even challenges, and of course the fruit of marriage in children and a family," he added.

The push to redefine marriage to allow for same-sex couples to marry has also become one of the biggest grounds in challenging the Church's idea of marriage.

This has led to pressure and confusion among young people who are just starting to plan their future, according to Meg McDonnell, director of I Believe in Love, a US-based organisation created to help young people promote and support healthy models of marriage.

"Young adult apprehension about marriage is often tied to the fact that many of them have seen only a few healthy models of marriage," McDonnell explained.

She said this fear is especially prevalent among people in lower-income groups, adding that in these communities "fear of divorce is high."

Moreover, she said many young adults don't know the best ways to get lasting love and stable marriage and family life because of the lack of dating and relationship norms and loose sexual mores.

To encourage young adults to seal their love for each other in marriage, McDonnell suggested that married couples publicly share their stories of marriage and love. She said successful marriage stories should be directed to young people, especially those who were raised in a family with no strong foundation, so these youth can acquire the learning and morals they need for a stable marriage.

"Those who are married – young or older – may want to intentionally reach out to single and dating young adults with a listening and supportive ear and a willingness to share what worked on their road through dating and to marriage," McDonnell said. "We need to revive a culture where those who are dating and married are sharing 'best practices' to finding and keeping love and commitment."

Cardinal Wuerl concurred. "Nothing tells the story of true married love better than the witness of enduring human love," he said.

"One of the things that we all need to do is simply share the joy, the beauty of anniversaries that point out how the Church's vision of marriage, reflective of millennia of human experience, is not only real but is verified every day," he said.

"The love that Jesus and his Church speak of is something much more profound than simple sexual satisfaction or temporary happiness. Love is the ability to give of one's self and receive the love of another in a way that the couple can make their way through life facing even the daily challenges of commitment, and God willing in the context of their own family, the fruit of their love," he added.