It's not just a piece of paper or a pretty ceremony, but something much deeper and important.
Although there are no guarantees in love, marriage creates an environment conducive to increasing the chances of happiness. Unlike a free relationship or cohabitating, it responds naturally and authentically to the call we feel when we fall in love.
When two people fall in love they’re not called to live just any kind of union. Love invites them to a relationship where a reciprocal self-giving is wanted and expressed: a committed, exclusive, permanent, altruistic and fruitful love.
It elevates your capacity to love
The difference between moving in together and getting married isn’t the marriage certificate, which is simply a sign of the commitment, or the ceremony, which makes public what the bride and groom are giving to each other, but the fact that those who get married perform a new act of love — committing to love each other forever.
Taking that step of commitment generates energy, ideas, efforts, and attitudes that do not become a reality if the idea of the relationship is to only remain together as long as the desire is there, or until a certain period of time runs out.
Getting married, with the self-giving and commitment that it implies, does not eliminate the limitations or defects of people, but creates a new and beneficial condition for the bride and groom and elevates the couple’s capacities to love to a level that cannot be reached without that voluntary act.
Lovers are two people who simply love each other; spouses are people who, in addition to loving each other, decide to formally commit themselves to loving each other. That’s a big difference. It’s an act of love, of total surrender in the present moment of all that one is and can be, with the promise to continue that act until death.
“Forever” strengthens your commitment and love
Authentic love invites us to a permanent union, not a temporary one; a commitment to live with and to give ourselves to our spouse “until death do us part.”
The simple desire to be with someone is something merely sentimental: a very fragile love, which can have a very short expiration date. Marriage is a step that concretizes that union. By means of a concrete act in the present—the wedding—the lovers make a commitment for the future.
It motivates you to give your best
Another aspect of falling in love is altruism—giving the best of oneself to the other. Spouses enrich each other with their perceptual, rational, physiological, emotional and spiritual diversity.
The good of the spouses (which is the end of marriage) consists of the changes that are made in each person’s way of being in order to live a relationship of two as one, because getting married is “one but still two,” in which the individuals are united but not absorbed. It’s not just a couple, it’s a marriage.
Marriage gives new reasons for celebration
Throughout the history of humanity, marriage has always been celebrated, albeit with different nuances. When two people each mutually decide that the other person is so valuable they deserve the gift of their life, that’s a big reason to celebrate.
For the same reason, we celebrate wedding anniversaries, when we commemorate the moment when the lovers committed themselves deeply to each other, and their annual renewal of that commitment.
It contributes to a mentality open to life
Love tends to become fruitful love, a re-creation of the spouses’ lives, because falling in love generates fruitfulness in many ways, not only in giving life to a human being. It creates in the spouses an attitude of openness towards life in general, in addition to openness to having children, one of the purposes of marriage.
Indeed, the solid structure offered by committed love prepares a peaceful environment to receive children and create in the spouses an appreciation for the value of life.
It enriches you sacramentally
Marriage is the common patrimony of humanity, but the great richness of Catholics is that marriage was elevated by Christ to the dignity of sacrament, a spiritual reality in which Christ becomes present in a new way in the life of the spouses to help them to fulfill their vows and benefit from all the goods of marriage.
This means that thanks to the commitment they’ve made, they have greater will and energy to grow and overcome their difficulties, which is elevated and supported by the grace of God through the sacrament. Love requires work every day, and when human strength falters, Jesus’ grace holds us up.