A realistic acknowledgement: some marriages break. Flawed, sinful human beings enter into relationships with the aspiration of permanence. Against best intentions, and even sacramentality, some of these break. Sometimes they cannot bear the strain our flawed expectations place on them:
221. Among the causes of broken marriages are unduly high expectations about conjugal life. Once it becomes apparent that the reality is more limited and challenging than one imagined, the solution is not to think quickly and irresponsibly about separation, but to come to the sober realization that married life is a process of growth, in which each spouse is God’s means of helping the other to mature.
Let’s be clear that Pope Francis is speaking of situations in which the onset of breaking is happening. Quite often, couples realize that they are in trouble. If there is honesty about that sad reality, and acknowledgement that a perfect love is being engaged by imperfect people, it is possible for things to get better.
Change, improvement, the flowering of the good qualities present in each person – all these are possible. Each marriage is a kind of “salvation history”, which from fragile beginnings – thanks to God’s gift and a creative and generous response on our part – grows over time into something precious and enduring. Might we say that the greatest mission of two people in love is to help one another become, respectively, more a man and more a woman? Fostering growth means helping a person to shape his or her own identity. Love is thus a kind of craftsmanship.
Craft is a thoughtful analysis. It lies somewhere along the lines of art and work, a combination of both.
When we read in the Bible about the creation of man and woman, we see God first forming Adam (cf. Gen 2:7); he realizes that something essential is lacking and so he forms Eve and then hears the man exclaim in amazement, “Yes, this one is just right for me!” We can almost hear the amazing dialogue that must have taken place when the man and the woman first encountered one another. In the life of married couples, even at difficult moments, one person can always surprise the other, and new doors can open for their relationship, as if they were meeting for the first time. At every new stage, they can keep “forming” one another. Love makes each wait for the other with the patience of a craftsman, a patience which comes from God.
Surprise: another interesting way of looking at a graced relationship. Think of any others like it?
For your reference Amoris Laetitia is online here.