When Francis refers to modern marriage as “provisional” and thus not representative of what marriage is supposed to be (and therefore “null”), he means many young people today—who, thanks to technology and a life of convenience, have their needs met the moment they have them—fail to grasp that marriage is a lifelong commitment that will, at times, be very difficult or even, at times, unsatisfying. Instead it is presumed to be something that should make the individual happy and that if it doesn’t, well, it’s time to move on. We’ve all heard the phrase “life’s too short” or “life’s a journey; you only get one chance.”
That’s the “different culture” to which the pope refers.
Same goes for the secular and materialistic approach to one’s wedding day. Hello? Destination wedding, anyone?
Like many folks, Fox News’ Adam Shaw took offense to the pope’s message. “For Pope Francis to say the great majority of marriages are null implies that the great majority of Catholics are ignorant fools who cannot understand the responsibilities of a bedrock of society that has existed for thousands of years.”
Or it simply implies something’s awry in modern marriage.
Which, ironically, was the focus of Time magazine’s cover story last week. In “How to Stay Married (and why),” author Belinda Luscombe asks that very question: “What does a modern marriage promise that historical unions didn’t?”
Too much, apparently. Too many people want marriage to be something it isn’t. Something that makes them happy, that demands equality, that never disappoints. Something that exceeds one’s hopes, desires and expectations and satisfies every need a person can have.
If that’s not how you view marriage, great. But it doesn’t make the problem, or Pope Francis’s observation, any less true.
Suzanne Venker is a writer known for her provocative yet compelling views on men, women, work family. Her newest book, to be published February 2017, is “The Alpha Wife’s Guide to Men Marriage: HOW LOVE WORKS.” To learn more about Suzanne and her work, visit her website. Follow her on Twitter@SuzanneVenker.com.