How many temptations can there be throughout a marriage? What problems can a couple encounter over the years? What undermines trust, fidelity, and teamwork? How does evil creep into a relationship?

These are just some of the questions that an engaged couple should ask themselves if they intend to try to build a life together. Here we would like to attempt, in part, to answer these questions through a fictional tale, which, in any case, speaks of very real marital crises.

A novel for young couples

Imagine that there is an underground school where demons study the art of destroying the happiness of couples.

Imagine that two students from this hellish university must irreparably ruin a marriage in order to earn the coveted degree.

What tactics, weapons, and deceptions might they use?

This is, in a nutshell, the plot of the book L’arte di rovinare i matrimoni. La missione di un giovane apprendista diavolo (“The Art of Ruining Marriage: The Mission of the Devil’s Young Apprentice,” Cecilia Galatolo, Mimep Docete, 2023).

The protagonist is Zecca, a very cunning and intelligent demon who is forced to ally with Piattola, a more foolish and superficial demon. Their assigned mission? To separate a married couple, the very young – and very much in love – Chiara and Luca.

In the footsteps of C. S. Lewis

The fictional work explores – without claiming to be any masterpiece – the model of Clive Staples Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. Paradoxically, in this book, based on the demons’ point of view, one sees the strengths that underpin a marriage.

The story is meant to offer insights into what triggers the most serious crises and what virtues need to be cultivated so that the unity experienced on their wedding day remains strong over time.

The book might be characterized by the close dialogue between the two demons, who plot to attack the family at its weakest points.

What ruins a marriage?

To give some examples of what usually triggers a marital crisis, we could mention: Routine and neglect, cell phone addiction, a parent-in-law not being supportive or behaving properly, temptation to go further with a colleague, problems with children, health issues, economic difficulties.

In this novel, the couple experiences all these problems one after another. Weary by the end of these trials, they reach a point where they are no longer able to find the desire to go on together.

They got married with the best of intentions. They even have a child, but after much effort, Piattola and Zecca seem to win: The marriage, though initially built on the rock of faith, seems like it’s over, dead.

The importance of relationships outside the family

Chiara and Luca’s real strength turns out to be that they are not alone. Their family and friends are by their sides, as well as an attentive spiritual guide (the priest who married them).

They are part of a community that loves and supports them. This will bring them to receive the help they need.

The two will understand, then, that evil is not overcome by isolating oneself. The message of the book, in this regard, is that “hell” is synonymous with “loneliness,” and two newlyweds who isolate themselves have already begun to kill their marriage.

Alone, no one is saved… not even two newlyweds

Chiara and Luca will understand that, when getting engaged and planning a life together, you don’t know everything you’ll face in your marriage, and you need to have the humility to be guided by those who have more experience.

They will understand that feelings are not enough: serious work needs to be done… both on oneself and as a couple.

They will understand that every marriage – especially those in which love is abundant – has an enemy. There is someone who comes to steal the good wine – the wine of joy – from the table.

In other words, every marriage, even the healthiest and most robust, can go through a crisis. The most important thing, however, is the way one approaches it: either pridefully, unwilling to take a step back or forward – or with the desire to get through it together and be even stronger than before?

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