What’s Unique About Marriage?
Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union. It is a one of a kind, multi-dimensional relationship. It is unique to any other human relationship, a chosen commitment, founded upon the mutual love and devotion of one man and one woman. Yet this is not its sole purpose. Marriage is an essential mechanism in society which unites children with their moms and dads. The true nature of marriage honors the sexual differences between men and women and is beneficial for children.
Marriage Honors Sexual Differences
“Man and woman, God created them.”
Men and women are different, biologically and physically. The complementarity of the sexes is intrinsic to marriage and thereby allows the marital union to result in the birth of children.
For example, men and women bring different strengths to parenting and provide children with a different way of looking at the world, even though a good deal of overlap does exist.
- Mothers are more sensitive to the cries, words, and gestures of infants, toddlers, and adolescents, and, partly as a consequence, they are better at providing physical and emotional nurture to their children.1
- Fathers are more likely than mothers to encourage their children to tackle difficult tasks, endure hardship without yielding, and seek out novel experiences.
“God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life.” Pope Benedict, Homily at closing mass of 7th World Meeting of Families in Milan (June 3, 2012)
“[T]he link between nature, nurture, and sex-specific parenting talents is undoubtedly complex, [however] one cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence of sex differences in parenting — differences that marriage builds on to the advantage of children.” Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles (The Witherspoon Institute, 2008)
“The difference between man and woman is not meant to stand in opposition, or to subordinate, but is for the sake of communion and generation, always in the image and likeness of God.” Pope Francis, General Audience: On Man and Woman (April 15, 2015)
The Destiny of Humanity
Jackie and Bobby Angel: Marriage and Family
Understanding Man and Woman
An Intro to Theology of the Body
“Marriage is more than a civil contract; it is a lifelong covenant of love between a man and a woman. It is an intimate partnership in which husbands and wives learn to give and receive love unselfishly, and then teach their children to do so as well.” USCCB, Married Love and the Gift of Life (2006)
- Eleanor Maccoby, The Two Sexes: Growing Up Apart, Coming Together, Cambridge: Harvard University, 1998
- Kyle Pruett, Fatherneed, New York: Broadway, 2000, Pp. 30–31
- David Popenoe, Life Without Father, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996, Pp. 144–145
- Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles, The Witherspoon Institute, 2008
Marriage is Beneficial for Children
“Each child has life, thanks to a mom and a dad.”
A married mother and father are great gifts for children, so supporting an institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers is extremely important. A man and a woman, through their faithful union in marriage, provide a stable environment for children to experience the love and care of both a father and a mother, who each able to contribute to their growth and development in unique ways.
Social science data shows:
- Children who live with two married parents tend to enjoy greater physical and mental health than those who live in other family situations.
- Children in married, two-parent families enjoy more economic well-being than children in any other family structure, which often carries into their adult lives. By age 30, a woman raised by two married parents will earn an average of $4,735 more in annual income and a man raised by two married parents will earn an average of $6,534 more in annual income than their counterparts raised by single parents.
- Children that are raised in married households are significantly less likely to miss class and show attendance or behavioral problems. They are more likely to graduate from high school and college.
- Children who grow up in married, two-parent households are more likely to delay parenthood until marriage.
- Boys in married households are less likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior.
The Cradle of Life & Love
Made for Life
“We must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.” Pope Francis, Address to International Catholic Child Bureau (April 11, 2014)
“Through their union in love, the couple experiences the beauty of fatherhood and motherhood, and shares plans, trials, expectations and concerns; they learn care for one another and mutual forgiveness.” Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia (2016)
- The Science of Dad: Engaged Fathers Help Kids Flourish, Live Science, 6/13/13
- Why Married Parents Are Important For Children, For Your Marriage
- Fagan, Kidd, & Potrykus, Marriage and Economic Well Being: The Economy of the Family Rises or Falls with Marriage, Marriage and Religion Research Institute, 2011
- For Richer, for Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America, American Enterprise Institute and Institute for Family Studies, 2014
- Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles, Witherspoon Institute, 2006