The Meaning of Marriage | Timothy J. Keller

Summary of: The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
By: Timothy J. Keller

Realistic Marriage

John Tierney’s “Picky, Picky, Picky” argues that by setting our standards too high in matters of the heart, we’ve become consumed by the “Flaw-o-Matic.” Instead of seeking perfection from the get-go, treating marriage as a work in progress can keep us realistic, realistic enough to learn to love and care for the stranger to whom we find ourselves married. This view of marriage can help us break out of the idealism-pessimism trap, and build better, happier marriages.


Embark on a journey to demystify the complexities of marriage with Timothy J. Keller’s ‘The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God’. This book summary delves into the nature of marital relationships and how they have evolved over time. Explore the sociological, financial, and emotional aspects of marriage, as well as the significance of friendship, self-improvement, and accountability within this sacred union. Learn how adapting your perspective on marriage can lead to more rewarding and fulfilling relationships.

The Decline of Marriage

Marriage is no longer seen as a desirable outcome and has declined in Western societies. In the US, only 50% of adults are married compared to 72% in 1960. Attitudes have shifted, and marriage is now associated with unhappiness. This has led to the rise of cohabitation, which is increasingly seen as a way to avoid a miserable marriage. However, the divorce rate of 50% is just one aspect of the bigger picture.

Debunking Myths About Marriage

Despite popular beliefs, marriage can bring financial stability as well as happiness. According to the National Marriage Project’s research, couples who marry after 25 years of age, have average or high income and education, and have children after marriage are less likely to end up in a divorce court. Marriage can also lead to higher wealth and earning potential in the long run. The support provided by a spouse helps in being accountable for finances and working towards future goals. Moreover, 61% of married individuals report being very happy, according to sociologist Linda Waite’s research. This research proves that marriage can be a source of happiness and economic stability.

The “Me Marriage”

Marriages have shifted from public to private contracts between individuals, which has led to the pursuit of personal happiness and an impossibly high standard for finding a spouse. This new “Me Marriage” ideal requires individuals to be well-adjusted without any significant flaws, making it difficult to find the perfect match despite the desire for a soulmate. The data supports these challenges, with a survey revealing that many individuals delay marriage while searching for their ideal mate who accepts them as they are. As a result, only one in three high school seniors in the US believe that marriage will satisfy their needs. While the individualistic approach to marriage may promise liberation, the unintended consequences can lead to unrealistic expectations and struggles in finding a compatible partner.

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