The Meaning of Marriage

If you asked me one book you need to read when it comes to having a great marriage, this is the book that I will recommend. I have read a lot of marriage books but the lessons I’ve gleaned here are life changing. Some books are good but this book is AHHHH!!!! SOBRANG GALING!!! After reading this book, I even made a curriculum with our resident theologian Pastor Tito Almadin so we could teach it to our church.

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller has changed the way I treat my wife, my misconceptions about singleness. In fact this book is also the book I would recommend to singles.

Product Description

There has never been a marriage book like The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

Based on the acclaimed sermon series by New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller, this book shows everyone-Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged-the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible.

Modern culture would make you believe that everyone has a soul-mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. All those modern-day assumptions are, in a word, wrong.

Using the Bible as his guide, coupled with insightful commentary from his wife of thirty-six years, Kathy, Timothy Keller shows that God created marriage to bring us closer to him and to bring us more joy in our lives. It is a glorious relationship that is also the most misunderstood and mysterious. With a clear-eyed understanding of the Bible, and meaningful instruction on how to have a successful marriage, The Meaning of Marriage is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.

Some quotable quotes:

“In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.”

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

“Only with time do we really learn who the other person is and come to love the person for him- or herself and not just for the feelings and experiences they give us.”

“You can only afford to be generous if you actually have some money in the bank to give. In the same way, if your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, then anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief but a psychological cataclysm. If, however, you know something of the work of the Spirit in your life, you have enough love “in the bank” to be generous to your spouse even when you are not getting much affection or kindness at the moment.”

“Those dreaming of the perfect match are outnumbered by those who don’t really want it at all, though perhaps they can’t admit it. After all, our culture makes individual freedom, autonomy and fulfillment the very highest values, and thoughtful people know deep down that any love relationship at all means the loss of all three. You can say, ‘I want someone who will accept me just as I am,’ but in your heart of hearts you know that you are not perfect, that there are plenty of things about you that need to be changed, and that anyone who gets to know you up close and personal will want to change them.”

You never Marry the Right Person

I wrote a blog on THE MYTH OF GOD’S PERFECT CHOICE last year that had mix reviews and as I am reading the book “The meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller the more I am made aware of the meaning of marriage and relationships.

Most of the singles I know would use compatibility as a measure of whether they are going to marry someone or not. On paper, it really looks good but as we see in reality and even in Scripture the quest for compatibility seems impossible to achieve.

Some say if it is real love then it must come naturally. I am also working on that premise when I was starting out in marriage because I thought that is how love moves. Now I know why they say LOVE MOVES IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS.

So why am I saying that you never marry the right person:

1. Because no two people are compatible.

Destructive to marriage is the self fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment necessary for us to become whole and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. it fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.

We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it awhile and he or she will change. For marriage, being the enormous thing it is, means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is…learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

Source:  Stanley Hauerwas, “Sex and Politics: Bertrand Russell and Human Sexuality,” Christian Century, April 19, 1978, 417-422.

What Stanley Hauerwas is showing us is that looking for the perfect compatible partner is an impossibility. The moment you marry someone, you and your spouse begin to change in profound ways, and you can’t know ahead of time what those changes will be.

For Thammie and me it is learning to love the person we didn’t marry. She didn’t marry the proud Dennis. She doesn’t have a clue how proud I could be but she decided to love me. You hear it from older couples who have a successful marriage. Until today after being married for more than 4 decades they would say that they are still finding something new with their spouse. That is why as men we should study our wife. Know her, listen to her and study her.


What Happens if we are afraid to Love

“Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in the casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt,1960), 123.


Why People are Afraid to Get Married

You can say, ” I want someone who will accept me just as I am, “but in your heart of hearts you know that you are not perfect, that there are plenty of things about you that need to be changed, and that anyone who gets to know you up close and personal will want to change them. And you also know that the person will have needs, deep needs, and flaws. That all sounds painful, and it is, and so you don’t want all that. Yet it is hard to admit to the world or to yourself that you don’t want to be married. And so you put your FLAW-O-MATIC on high. That will do it. That will keep marriage away

– Tim Keller, “The Meaning of Marriage” p.27