This weekend, I will have the privilege to witness the convalidation of the marriage of my long-time business partner and friend (he is really like my brother) and his wife of 23 years. We have known each other for a long time and I feel I had a part in his discovery and conversion to the Catholic faith (he was baptized a Catholic but rarely attended church as a child). Soon after he joined the Church, his wife followed.
One thing they never did was have the marriage convalidated by the Catholic Church. This sacrament somehow got placed on the back burner. Many people would tell them "what for", they are married and the Church cannot change that. But as a couple they began to see the significance of having their marriage blessed by the Church.
Marriage is sacrament. It is a bond between a man and woman that is being witnessed by the community and the Church. That act will sanctify their marriage and welcome the intersession of the holy spirit in their life and relationship.
It also sends a message to their children. Their children will learn that God is present in the relationship and in the family. It teaches them about a commitment that lasts a lifetime, even when things are not going well. It teaches them that when life gets tough, as a family, you can turn to God for strength. That strength and help may come from the larger Church community. I cannot count the times when I have seen couples struggling in their lives and find the support they need within our Church Community. That support can be from food and clothes to watching the kids and helping them find jobs.
But it all begins in the family unit and a marriage that we acknowledge as something that belongs to God as well.