The Catholic understanding of marriage is something that is questioned nowadays by society, in many different ways from several different point of view. Marriage is understood as the lasting union of a man and woman to the exclusion of others pre-exists the state. Therefore the Catholic definition of marriage is true and just, and it should not be altered.
Jesus remains true to us and to His Father's will even unto death: the couple who gets married in the Catholic Church follows in the footsteps of Christ by promising to remain married to each other until death.
The first is that Jesus' commitment is free and total. Jesus gives all of Himself at all times; he did not have any preconditions, no escape clauses, and no trial runs as Messiah. As the evangelist Luke tells us that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem (in other words, Jesus was to do as his Father's will). Likewise, the couple who gets married in the Catholic Church cannot have any preconditions, escape clauses, or trial marriages. It is part of the baptismal promises that couples refrain from any sexual activity outside of marriage, because the act of sex is to help bond and strengthen the relationship of the couple. Even the Ten Commandments states that a person should not commit adultery, and that a person should not covet his neighbor’s wife. This is particularly true for engaged couples who, because of the physical intimacy of sexual intercourse, may feel united but in reality may still be divided on important issues.
The next is that Jesus' commitment is life-giving. The reason Jesus came to us, is that we have life and have it abundantly. His resurrection is the proof that he kept his word. The couple who get married in the Catholic Church promise to be open to the gift of new life, if God decides to bless them in this way. This means placing no barriers between you and God's will - physical, mental, or spiritual. Indeed if a couple is truly united in the love of Jesus Christ, then could they not be able to share this love with their children?
A sacramental marriage is very different from many of the living arrangements that are popular in our society nowadays. In modern day society, two people can get married simply by filling out a form and stand before a judge. In many cases, civil marriage is no more than a contract. Before contacting a priest, a couple who are thinking about getting married in the Catholic Church should have several long, searching, honest, and heart-to-heart conversations with each other (and with God, needless to say). The subject matter should include "Are we keeping our word to Jesus?" and "Are we keeping our word to each other?"
The specific points in the conversation should include the following: If the man and woman are both Catholic, then they should talk about their fulfillment of their baptismal promises. Are they attending Sunday Mass each week? Are they part of their parish community and the local church through financial support and prayers of petition? Are they deepening their relationship with God by an active prayer life? Are they living chastely, refraining from sexual activity? If they have not fulfilled these or any other baptismal promises, then have they been reconciled to God and the Church through the sacrament of reconciliation. Are they resolved to either continue or to begin fulfilling their baptismal promises?
Other important questions to consider before marriage are how to handle finances, how large debts will be paid off (school, loans, etc.), the costs of raising a family, the roles and responsibilities of husband and wife, relations with in-laws, etc. Is marriage being considered more for the parents' sake or for the couple's? How steady are other relationships in the couple's lives, with family and friends? Are you experiencing any pressure from any source to marry at this time in your life? Has either person experienced any frustration in communicating with his/her partner,...