Day 313: Weekly Reading on Marriage

September 1, 2012

For this week’s reading on marriage, I reread Keller’s chapter on the mission of marriage from The Meaning of Marriage. He emphasized the fact that marriage is intended to be a deeply satisfying spiritual friendship in which the character of both partners is being continually improved (partly) through the constancy and transparency of the relationship.

I don’t have much to say about this chapter, though I found it very helpful. But I wanted to include some quotes from it that I thought were excellent:

What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. (120)

Within this Christian vision for marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!'” (121)

If we let Him [God] . . . He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. (122) –C. S. Lewis

The reason it [marriage] must have priority is because of the power of marriage. Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole. If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won’t matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength. However, if your marriage is weak, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are marked by success and strength, it won’t matter. You will move out into the world in weakness. Marriage has that kind of power—the power to set the course of your whole life. It has that power because it was instituted by God. And because it has that unequalled power, it must have an unequalled, supreme priority. (131)

Is all this [improving one’s marriage] a lot of work? Indeed it is—but it is the work we were built to do. Does this mean “marriage is not about being happy; it’s about being holy”? Yes and no. As we have seen, that is too stark a contrast. If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not the near side. Holiness gives us new desires and brings old desires into line with one another. So if we want to be happy in marriage, we will accept that marriage is designed to make us holy. (132 through 133)

He [God] gives the happiness there is, not the happiness that is not. To be God—to be like God and to share his goodness in creaturely response—to be miserable—these are the only three alternatives. If we will not learn to eat the only food that the universe grows—the only food that any possible universe can ever grow—then we must starve eternally. (133) –C. S. Lewis


Day 295: Keeping Romance Alive

August 6, 2012

For act 295, I read an article from Focus on the Family called “Keeping Romance Alive.”

At one point in the article, the author quoted Bill Maier, who was trying to identify some possible reasons why a certain husband wasn’t romancing his wife anymore. One of the possibilities that he identified accurately captures what was going on with me before 365 Acts of Love:

[It] may be that he is feeling fine and thinks your marriage is going great. In other words, he’s pretty clueless and hasn’t noticed anything wrong with the relationship. He loves you and feels warm feelings toward you, but simply doesn’t express them.

I’m so glad that you were able to bring this issue in our marriage to my attention and that I’ve since worked hard to express my feelings for you in ways that you appreciate.


Day 278: Reading on Communication

July 16, 2012

For several weeks, I’ve been reading about marriage for one of my acts of love each week. This has really helped me to go deeper in my understanding of marriage.

This time, I read an article about listening and communicating from Focus on the Family. I really want to become a better listener because conversations like this are commonplace in our marriage:

YOU: Okay, I’m leaving for my meeting. The kids are all yours.

ME: What? You have a meeting tonight? Why didn’t you tell me? I have lots of work to do.

YOU: We talked about it on Tuesday night. You said you would watch the kids.

ME: No, I didn’t. I would remember agreeing to something like that.

YOU: Well . . . you said you would do it.

ME: Fine. Go to your meeting. But I do not remember agreeing to this.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think the problem lies with me. How could you distinctly remember that I agreed to watch the kids if I didn’t actually do it? I think that I zone out when you talk to me and I’m really not sure how to change that. But I’ll start by trying to be more conscientious about listening to you when you talk.


Day 239: Reading Up on Marriage Again

May 26, 2012

There are (at least) two things I’ve found that have the potential to really impact our marriage: prayer and education. The first seems obvious to me and will be obvious to anyone who thinks that Christianity is true. Prayer is a major means through which the God of the universe works. He wants us to bring the concerns of our marriage to him in prayer and wants to make changes in our marriage on the basis of those prayers. As such, I want to us to take as much advantage of that means as we can.

The other one seems obvious too: knowing certain things about marriage is a prerequisite to having a good marriage. In light of that, I’ve read up on marriage since 365 Acts of Love began. I read Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage, I’ve listened to sermons on marriage, we’ve been (slowly!) working through the Love and Respect Conference CDs, I’ve kept up with a few marriage blogs, and a few days ago, I read some John Piper articles on marriage. And for my 239th act of love, I read three marriage articles from Focus on the Family, one on commitment, one on protecting one’s marriage from infidelity, and one on fostering spiritual intimacy with one’s spouse.

I understand that possessing propositional knowledge about what makes for a good marriage is not sufficient for having a good marriage, but it certainly seems necessary.