The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller
This was an excellent book to place everything into perspective. I have always heard people ask, what deficiencies or imperfections are you willing to tolerate in your spouse? There is no perfect person, and nobody is going to match your ideal partner. Therefore, what areas are non-negotiable and what areas are you willing to compromise. For example, a non-negotiable for Grace and I was religion. In my opinion, religion is the most important aspect of a partnership. It defines your most fundamental beliefs and guides all of your actions. When you agree on the most foundational issues in life, then all other disagreements are solvable. I think that “The Meaning of Marriage” makes it abundantly clear that you and your spouse will face disagreements and that there will be arguments. You and your spouse are not identical; you were raised in different households, have different experiences, have different perspectives and personalities, and most significantly you are both imperfect. Because of dissimilarities and imperfections, there will be conflict. Conflict is unavoidable. Healthy relationships are able to confront, address, and resolve conflict. Sometimes, you will not know your spouse; she will not appear to be the same person that you married. It is nice to be warned that we should expect disagreements and to know that conflict is normal. I think that this was encouraging to me. Because it makes it clear that disagreement actually helps to develop your character, it helps your spouse to develop her character, and it brings you closer to one another.
Another big theme of the book is recognizing that marriage takes lots of work. It takes intentional effort to communicate with and live with your partner. However, God created marriage for a reason, and He also created the ultimate guide book, the Bible. It is hard to accept all aspects of the Bible as truth and live according to them. For example, Paul instructs us to serve one another and submit to one another. His meaning is clear – live entirely for your spouse, not yourself. This is easy to say, but ridiculously difficult to actually implement. Sometimes, I think that I do a good job of submitting to my fiancé. But when I really think about it, I realize that I actually do a lousy job of submitting. I want to be right. I want everything to be fair, or at least favored slightly towards me. I want my voice to be heard and my wants to be satisfied. I want, I want, I want, and I want. Submitting makes me feel weak, and obviously I don’t want to feel weak – nobody wants to feel weak. How do I reconcile feelings of weakness with submission? Honestly, I do not know. And when I don’t know something, I am reminded that God knows and that God can provide the answer. So, the only answer that I have right now for my selfishness is to pray and ask God for wisdom, humility, and Christ-like love. It is not easy to according to the Bible’s directions. And because it is not easy, many people do not. Personally, I want to take the challenge; I want to trust Jesus’s word and live fully aligned with Jesus’s wisdom.
Although I have been learning that marriage is scary, I am excited for it. Marriage is scary when you read about the amount of work that it takes, when you hear about fights and divorces, and when you consider the extent of your self-centeredness. Marriage is exciting when you read about love from great authors like Shakespeare, C. S. Lewis, or Milton, when you consider becoming more like Christ through your marriage relationship, when you read about how much good a strong marriage can accomplish, and when you read about how much you can learn about the Lord and how much you can help the weak through your marriage. When I think about maturing and growing with my fiancé, I am excited beyond words. “The Meaning of Marriage” made me consider the difficult truths about marriage and it honestly makes me feel terrified, but on the other hand, I am incredibly excited.
Overall, this was a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it. My fiancé and I read it before we were engaged. We read roughly one chapter per week, and then while we were in the car, on the plane, or at dinner, we discussed that chapter. Our discussions were excellent, and there are so many other things that I can I talk about in this blog post. However, it is time to close the journal and go to work right now.