This weekend, I finished the book The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, which issues this reminder: marriage will bring out the worst in you.
Which, to be clear, is a good thing. So is the book, which is by Protestant pastor Timothy Keller. It isn’t short but it’s easy to read and I actually implore you to read it if you intend to get married (or if you already are).
The book defines marriage as God designed it.
It equips readers to do marriage right in a culture that does it wrong. To pick a spouse wisely. To stick to our commitments. To create of our marriages occasions “for God’s presence on earth,” as St. Josemaria Escriva called it.
It is brilliant. One of the best marriage books I ever have read. Read it. I mean it. But first, read these — some of my favorite excerpts from it:
“Marriage brings out the worst in you. It doesn’t create your weaknesses (though you may blame your spouse for your blow-ups) — it reveals them. This is not a bad thing, though.” -page 153
“Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself. Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it.” -page 154
“You should stop making excuses for selfishness, you should begin to root it out as it’s revealed to you, and you should do so regardless of what your spouse is doing. If two spouses each say, ‘I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,’ you have the prospect of a truly great marriage.” -page 64
“Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love.” -page 91
“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.” -page 146
“When you see the problems in each other, do you just want to run away, or do you find a desire to work on them together? If the second impulse is yours, then you have the makings of a marriage.” -page 159
“The experience of Jesus’s grace makes it possible to practice the two most important skills in marriage: forgiveness and repentance.” -page 182
“Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, ‘I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.’ You must not use sex to say anything less.” -page 257
“Love is more fundamentally action than emotion.” -page 83
“Marriage is glorious but hard. It’s … blood, sweat, and tears, humbling defeats and exhausting victories.” -page 13