The entire movement inside the visible Church to stress the unitive aspect of marriage in hope of counteracting modern social ills is not only doomed to failure, it's making the problem worse.
When I read modern theological comments on marriage what is striking is the supernaturalization of the natural. Marriage is described as some kind of mystical bond of man and woman. When in reality marriage is an act of justice, it's a contract grounded in man's nature as corporeal living creature where all living creatures eat, grow and reproduce. Which is in turn what marriage is ordered toward, i.e. eating, growing and reproducing in society because man is by nature social.
What is being done is the social character of man is being separated from what marriage is also naturally ordered toward. And the more the visible Church stresses the social, that is, the more the visible Church stresses the unitive aspect of the social as distinct from the procreative where the two are seen as separate, (as opposed to being inseparable), the less anyone in the eyes of the visible Church will be seen as actually married.
The social is only understandable in relation to the procreative, and the procreative is only understandable in relation to the social. They can be looked at separately in the same manner as we look at the cause of life in living creatures separately from the corporeal flesh. They can be examined separately, but in the end, neither can be understood separate from the other because they are parts of an organic whole.
And just as the social cannot be understood except in relation to the procreative, so likewise neither can any part of the social, i.e. the unitive, be understood except in relation to the procreative.
Because when they are looked at separately without relationship, each takes on characteristics that are not natural to them. The procreative is reduced to the dignity of animal functions, and the unitive aspect of the social is transformed into an idealized bond between man and woman that virtually never exists.
As it stands, there's virtually not a man or woman who has ever been known, when ruled on by a marriage tribunal, to have ever had due discretion when he or she contracted marriage. And since "lack of due discretion" is sufficient grounds to annul a marriage. It follows then as a practical matter that we can assume there's are very few marriages that would live up to their idealized expectation.
As it stands, when the unitive is separated from procreative virtually every contracted marriage becomes a mirage where what is for all practical purposes contracted in marriage is the right to licit fornication.
Stressing the unitive aspect of marriage is turning sacramental marriage into a mockery of "Catholic divorce".
The more the visible Church stresses the unitive aspect of marriage, the more they as a practical matter doom actual marriages because they build up expectations that are always eventually doomed to be frustrated. Our entire culture of expected perfect romantic love is problem enough without the visible Church exacerbating the problem with their own romanticized notions of the unitive aspect of marriage.
Our culture stresses the unobtainable and when never ending romantic bliss doesn't come, unhappiness follows because marriage didn't meet expectations. And as opposed to the visible Church being a moderating influence, they make the problem worse with their own idealized notions of the unitive aspects of marriage.
Part of the problem appears to be the feminization of the american male as seen in the syrupy sentimental crap they dish out when talking about marriage.
I read a passage from Aquinas's commentary on 1 Corinthians (section 329) yesterday on the unitive aspect of marriage that is very down to earth, St. Thomas basically says the unitive aspect of marriage is understood and seen in the good of the family, which in turn proscribes adultery because adultery is not ordered to the good of the family.
It's an understanding of unitive that is grounded in duty, an understanding of marriage which puts marriage fully under the control of our will. It's an understanding that would include arranged marriages. But today that same passage of St. Thomas would be unloaded with assumptions and expectations that an arranged marriage, (a commonly accepted as valid marriage in St. Thomas' day), could never meet.
What we need to know about the unitive aspect is pretty straight forward. God gave us common sense to recognize our duties to our families along with making it pretty easy to know what adultery and its sister sins are. We don't need long lectures and thick tomes to understand the obvious. And if it's not obvious, odds are the problem is scrupulosity or some other common error.
And the more I think about, the more it's apparent that virtually the whole unitive aspect of marriage as it's commonly presented is sheer nonsense.
What we need are realistic expectations. What we need to do is take anything that has to do with the modern understanding of the unitive aspect of marriage and bury it deep in the back of the filing cabinet and in its place start talking about family, and duty, and procreation. We need to talk about families and babies and how to make it possible for mothers to stay home with their children and how to make it better for them to be mothers.
We need to stop praising our daughters for their career forming successes because those successes are failures in the making because they separate a woman from her children. Which is the kind of unitiveness we should be talking about, how to unifying mothers with their children is a real problem in our modern society because modern economics and consumerist expectations are driving a wedge between mothers and their babies.
As it stands, Catholics have enough trouble as it is with the modern societal wedges driving families and marriages apart. The last thing we need is the visible Church adding another wedge with its unreachable romanticized version of married life.
I have read a number of emails questioning my understanding of marriage stating that my understanding is not consistent with the visible Church.
As I write in my sidebar, I like to muse about the issues and come up with my own arguments. They may be wrong or correct but it's a method I prefer because it helps me think through the issues. Nevertheless, the emails did give me pause that I might be completely off the wall in my seeing marriage as an organic whole only understandable in context of the whole so I did a brief bit of research. The following article basically says the same with the advantage of going into detail explaining the why and how.
THE REASON AND PURPOSE OF MATRIMONY