At the wedding of my daughter, the preacher challenged the wedding guests to the following promise:
“And all of you here being connected to Esther and Hans, should ask you at this hour how you stand with them: whether you are willing to respect the will of the two for living together as a couple, to support them in doing so, to do everything so that they stay together and refrain from anything that might bring them apart. If you all want to support them in being happy as husband and wife, as spouses and family, then promise and say »yes« to them!”
The collective »yes« may not have been too meaningful for many (like the marital »yes« at many weddings), but nevertheless this text sheds light on – In my opinion – a serious lack of awareness in our society: marriage is not a private affair. It exists in a social environment that exerts stronger influences than you would think. In particular, friends (here the wedding guests) and the family of origin belong to it. For the failure of many marriages is not primarily the failure of the spouses responsible, but the impact from the outside. Those who complain about the decay of our traditional values should be aware of it. For example, I conspired with my co-father-in-law to refrain, with God's help, from anything that would jeopardize or even burden our children’s marriage, and in times of crisis, together ask God if we should intervene or leave the matter to him.
But it is our responsibility to strengthen and support the marriages and families in our environment (extended family, parish, neighborhood, work, acquaintances – and whoever has access in particular, media). I wish (and probably God too) that more Christians would perceive this.