Young people need to realize that when they marry, they are going to marry someone with defects; and therefore, when they fall in love, if they think that the other person has no defects, they are wrong. Just as they would be wrong if, after marrying and beginning to discover the other person's defects, they let themselves think that love is at an end. On the contrary, it is then that love has come to a turning point towards - or away from - maturity.
In marrying one has to be prepared to love the other person with his or her defects; otherwise it is not a real person that one wants to marry. To learn to love someone with defects is of the essence of true love and loyalty between spouses. A family where the spouses learn to live so, becomes truly a school for the children, preparing them for life, specially for modern life, where people are running out of patience with one another, where there seems to be an obsession with other people's defects, where intolerance seems to becoming almost a code of social behaviour.
A special point here is that to love a person - to learn to love him or her - with his or her defects, is to learn to love as God loves. God doesn't love us because of our defects, he loves us because of our virtues. And though, if we may put it that way, he has a keen eye for our defects, he has a keener eye still for our virtues. He doesn't love us because of our defects, but, as Blesssed Josemaría Escrivá never tired of repeating, he loves us with our defects. All of us should try to do as God does in this; especially married people in the way they consider each other. If we see many defects in other people, we should try to see many more virtues. The person in contact with God, the person who prays, will be given a keen enough eye to see them. To do this perseveringly in married life, over a lifetime, is to follow a way of sanctity. The final result of such a persevering effort should be two people well prepared, well matured, for heaven.
Binding oneself to love
Happiness is a result of learning to love; and love means giving - and sticking to the gift. That is why any true married love must express itself in a commitment. Married commitment is by nature something demanding. The words by which the spouses express their mutual acceptance of one another, through "irrevocable personal consent" (GS 48), bring this out. Each pledges to accept the other "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health... all the days of my life".
Vatican II says that what makes married love an "eminently human love" is the fact that it is "an affection between two persons rooted in the will" (GS 49). Love tends to begin on the level of feelings; but it can never mature and become truly deep if it remains on that level (which after all is the surface level of human relations). In order to grow, love must not remain a purely emotional affair; it needs to become a matter of deliberate and voluntary choice - and one that is stuck by. Indissolubility is certainly the law of God. But it is poorly understood if taken simply as a law; it is not only that, but also a call to generosity, a pointer to love, and a safeguard against selfishness. It says to a married person, "Love in marriage is a duty as much as a right. Therefore you have no right to give up the effort to love even if marriage proves difficult or runs into unforeseen obstacles, least of all if the obstacle is simply your spouse's unforeseen defects. He or she has the right to be loved with those defects: that is, as the true person he or she is; and you have the duty to love him or her so. That is what genuine love consists in. Therefore, in the face of difficulties and defects, you have no right to quit: have no right to let your spouse down, or your children down, or other people down... And, finally, you have no right to let yourself down; to think you can find a better happiness than the one God has planned for you. You won't be happy that way. It won't work".
It is certainly not easy for two people to live together for life, in a faithful and fruitful union. It is "easier" for each to live apart, or to unite casually or for a short time, or to avoid having children. It is easier, but not happier; nor does it contribute to their growth as persons. One of the thoughts in God's mind, if we can put it that way, when he instituted marriage is that "it is not good for the human person to be alone" (Gen. 2, 18). It is not good for man or woman to live alone, or in successive temporary associations that tend to leave him or her more and more trapped in self-isolation. Married commitment is not an easy endeavour; but, apart from normally being a happy one, it is one that matures. It matures people for happiness on earth; and, even more importantly, for happiness in Heaven. Those who don't learn to love are not qualifying themselves for Heaven.
The challenge of the difficult moments
If God has made the marriage bond unbreakable, therefore, it is because it contributes so powerfully to the good of the spouses. God wants them to remain committed to one another even when commitment seems pointless (perhaps there are no children) or impossible; that he wants them to keep loving one another even when all feelings of love seem to have died. That too is why the "bad" moments of marriage the hard moments can also be specially good moments, always provided a person is prepared to rise to the challenge they pose.
Indissolubility, we might say, is God's plan to defend the spouses themselves from selfishness: and for happiness. God knows that happiness depends on love, on the ability to love, on developing this ability. And his design for marriage is that it should be a constant spur to this development of the capacity to love. Indissolubility therefore is not meant for the easy moments, when the two spouses want to be together; then they don't need the help of a law. It is designed for the difficult moments, precisely to be the force that keeps them together; then they need the reminder of God's law and its positive purpose, and the encouragement to seek the grace of abiding by it.
The Church therefore, in defending indissolubility, is defending people against the constant temptation to softness and selfishness, which are major enemies of personal growth and fulfilment. A person is more undone by being unfaithful to a hard marriage bond, than by remaining bound by it. God knows what he is doing in making the bond of marriage indissoluble. He knows that love means giving, and being faithful to one's gift; and therefore he wants husband and wife to be bound to the liberating task and saving effort of learning to give and learning to love.
Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio, speaks of indissolubility in terms of something joyful that Christians should announce to the world: "It is necessary", he says, "to reconfirm the good news of the definitive nature of conjugal love" (no. 20). If many today find this statement surprising, it is because contemporary society has so largely lost its understanding of the divine plan for man's authentic good. Reconfirming in their own lives and in those of others the good news that married love is too sacred and too important - also for human happiness - to be broken, is a special mission facing Christians today.