Stronger marriages: We must be committed to strengthening marriage, family life Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

Recently my husband John and I celebrated 39 years of married life. When we got married in 1973, we told each other that we hoped to make it to our 50th wedding anniversary. Of course, we would even like more than 50 years together, but that is our goal. We have only 11 years to go, God willing.

We hope to be able to participate eventually in the annual diocesan celebration for couples observing their 50th wedding anniversaries. It was held in August, and Bishop Robert C. Morlino gave each golden anniversary couple a certificate. He commended them for their cooperation with Christ in building a successful marriage.

The bishop said that these couples know that Christ is central to a successful marriage. He also pointed out the importance of forgiving each other and bringing a joyful witness to others in society.

This week the Catholic Herald is publishing our twice annual Catholic Marriage section. It offers articles focusing on marriage preparation and marriage enrichment with a faith perspective. We hope you will read it and/or pass it along to a couple contemplating marriage or needing help with married life.

Threats to marriage and family

Marriage and family are the foundation of society and the Catholic Church, yet marriage and family life are being threatened in today’s world.

In our country, we see many couples cohabitating or having sexual relationships and bearing children outside of marriage. For those who do marry, husbands and wives are dealing with stress, infidelity, and discontent often leading to separation and divorce.

Strong, healthy marriages are so important, yet many people spend more time taking care of their computers, pets, or cars than they do of their marriage and family life. How can we help turn this around and encourage people to work on their marriages, too?

Strengthening marriage

The Catholic bishops of the United States have made strengthening and protecting marriage as one of their main priorities. They have been asking all members of the Church to help them through their own personal commitment and through their Catholic parishes.

The bishops have developed Web sites and a variety of activities to help strengthen marriage, including,, and

On the Marriage Unique for a Reason Web site, Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB ) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, says that there are many questions about marriage today, including:

What is marriage? Are a man and a woman really essential to marriage? What about the child … and the role of mothers and fathers? Is it discriminatory to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman? What impact does the redefinition of marriage have on religious liberty?

These are just a few of the many questions about marriage today, Bishop Cordileone points out. “They all hinge upon the first question: What is marriage? When the answer to this question is understood, everything else falls into its proper place.”

He points out that marriage is unique for a reason. The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is the lifelong partnership of mutual and exclusive fidelity between a man and a woman ordered by its very nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.

The Web site offers much more about the Church’s teaching on marriage and answers many questions we’re often asked in society today. I recommend that people take a look at this Web site and others provided by the bishops.

Marriage-building parishes

Another great resource is a document prepared by the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM), “Marriage-Building Parishes:  Assessment and Resource Guide.” Its purpose is to help parishes generate creative ideas, discussion, and resources to help improve the way they strengthen marriage in their communities.

The USCCB has materials aimed at promoting and protecting marriage developed specifically for parish use:

Marriage:  Love and Life in the Divine Plan. This letter from the U.S. bishops explores the blessing of marriage as a public commitment between a man and a woman.  It is an excellent resource to make available for parishioners.

Marriage:  Love and Life in the Divine Plan, Leader’s Guide. A study guide to assist small group leaders facilitating group discussion on the above letter on marriage.  It would be perfect for parish study.

If people in our diocese have questions on any of these materials, they are encouraged to call Andy Galvin in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis at 608-821-4517.

There are many ways we can work to strengthen marriage and family life in personal ways or in our parishes. Let’s reflect on what we’re doing now and what we could do in the future to be more marriage friendly ourselves and as a parish community.