Today we would like to offer some advice for discussing marriage on social
media and in the public arena in general.
Without sounding defeatist, it must be said that marriage today is in
danger—both because individualism is rampant (“I have to think about myself
first. The ‘we’ comes later”), and because it is not always clear what this
institution is ontologically. What is family? What is spousal love and what
is not? And does love last forever or is it just a fairy tale?
The finality that frightens us
Thinking about a life plan that lasts “forever” without interruption, in
the era of unconditional freedom, of the fleeting and the provisional, is
often frightening… perhaps it even sounds torturous!
Young people are increasingly confused. On the one hand, they continue to
dream of a stable and uncompromising love; on the other, it seems that this
desire is unattainable or even wrong: “You have to love yourself first.
This is the only love you can count on.”
So, in what way can we speak of marriage as a bond between two people that
is stable, fruitful, and intends to last a lifetime?
Eternal love exists: let’s show it using real images
There are stories that show us how you can be happy by freely choosing to
give yourself to someone, no “ifs, ands, or buts.”
One way to talk to young people about this is to show them videos—perhaps
short and sharp—using platforms they utilize, i.e., social networks.
Young people really enjoy conveying messages through imagery.
There are videos on the internet that portray marriage in a very
pessimistic way. There are videos about husbands or wives who cheat,
couples who break up or someone taking revenge on their partner by leaving
them at the altar… and so on. Why don’t we propose something different? one
example might be:
Elderly couple meets after months being quarantined and apart: the kiss
between husband and wife is moving – YouTube
We testify, without preaching
One of the most unsuccessful ways to propose an idea is to go into it with
an attitude of superiority. It takes humility to be heard.
This unwritten rule of communication applies to social media. And it also
applies when we talk about marriage in the public arena.
Rather than lecturing others and calling all those who have not understood
the value of spousal love dissolute, let’s try to speak calmly and offer
testimonies, showing that we can understand the reasons that can lead
someone to be skeptical of marriage.
Understanding others’ wounds
Not long ago, I happened to be in dialogue with a married woman and mother
of a family who admitted that she didn’t really believe in eternal love.
I will admit that the temptation I had was to immediately give her a
million reasons why she was wrong. For once, though, I had the wise idea
not to do that and to instead listen first.
She told me that both she and her husband had divorced parents. She wanted
to make her relationship last, but she was afraid she couldn’t (if her
ancestors hadn’t succeeded, why would she now be successful?).
From the way she spoke, she almost seemed to be looking for confirmation
that it was possible… that love can last if you put your mind to it every
A conversation that began with skepticism on her part ended with a story
that moved me: “You know, it’s my son who reminds me of the importance of
marriage. He once got into a fight with a classmate and told me he would
never speak to him again. I pointed out to him that fighting is normal, but
that doesn’t mean relationships have to end. ‘Mom and Dad fight too,’ I
told him. And he replied, ‘but that’s different, you guys are married now.’ It made me think, you know? Children sense that
marriage is a sacred bond…”
I don’t know if that woman had more faith in marriage after our
conversation, but she certainly enjoyed talking about it and reflecting on
it, much more so than if I had just told her point by point where she was
wrong. Listening is really the first step to effective communication.