The Meaning of Marriage Book Summary - The Meaning of Marriage Book explained in key points
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Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller

Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

4.2 (122 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller offers a refreshing perspective on marriage, emphasizing that it is not just a social contract, but a lifelong commitment rooted in faith and unconditional love.

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    The Meaning of Marriage
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 7

    Marriage is in decline in Western societies.

    What is marriage? We know the clichéd answer from romantic movies. You marry when you meet your soulmate – that uniquely compatible person who “completes” you and brings you joy as no one else can.

    Of course, in the real world, few marriages resemble fairy tales. There are fights and disagreements; resentments build and need to be defused. But this isn’t to say that the clichés are all wrong and marriage is nothing but a bitter grind.

    The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Marriage can be blissful but it also exacts its toll of blood, sweat, and tears; for every hard-won victory, there’s a bruising defeat. In a word, it’s hard.

    Lots of people are unprepared for this reality and look for the exit signs as soon as they encounter difficulties. Others don’t even get that far because they rule marriage out entirely.

    The key message in this blink is: Marriage is in decline in Western societies.

    Marriage used to be universal – at least as an aspiration. Most people married and those who didn’t usually wished they could. That’s changed.

    Take the United States. In 1960, 72 percent of all adults were married. Today, it’s just 50 percent. This has also affected the way many children are raised. In 1970, nine out of ten children were born to married parents; nowadays, it’s six in ten.

    So what’s going on? Well, attitudes have shifted. Staying single might mean loneliness, but marriage has increasingly come to be identified with something even worse: unhappiness.

    This opinion explains the rise of cohabitation – unmarried sexual partners living together. Back in the 1960s, this arrangement was less common. Now, it’s estimated that 60 percent of all women – and an even higher percentage of men – will have lived with partners before they reach their late thirties.

    But younger people aren’t in the midst of a moral crisis. As many of them see it, there’s a good reason to avoid marriage.

    When a Gallup survey conducted on behalf of the National Marriage Project – a non-partisan research group at the University of Virginia – asked millennials why they chose to cohabit with their partners rather than marry, many cited the same statistic: one in two marriages end in divorce. Living together, they reasoned, is a good way of testing the waters and avoiding a miserable marriage.

    They’re not wrong, either – the divorce rate really is that high. But they’re missing the bigger picture.

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    What is The Meaning of Marriage about?

    The Meaning of Marriage (2011) is a meditation on marriage in an age of skyrocketing divorce rates and growing skepticism that a life of monogamy can deliver true happiness. Pastor Timothy Keller and theologian Kathy Keller ask what’s gone wrong – why are so many couples hesitant to take their vows and so many others calling it quits on their marriages? The authors’ answer: we’re far too idealistic, set impossible standards, and have forgotten the true meaning of matrimony – learning to love anew each day, a lesson at the heart of the Bible’s teachings.

    The Meaning of Marriage Review

    The Meaning of Marriage (2011) by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller is a thought-provoking exploration of the purpose and significance of marriage in today's world. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers deep insights and wisdom on the meaning of marriage, providing guidance for couples at any stage of their relationship.
    • Based on biblical teachings and enriched with real-life stories, the book offers a unique perspective on marriage that goes beyond conventional advice.
    • With its honest and realistic approach to the joys and challenges of married life, this book is far from boring, presenting a refreshing take on a timeless topic.

    Best quote from The Meaning of Marriage

    Never before in history has there been a society filled with people so idealistic in what they are seeking in a spouse.

    —Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller
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    Who should read The Meaning of Marriage?

    • Singles looking for their soulmates
    • Would-be divorcees thinking about giving it another chance
    • Engaged people wondering what married life has in store

    About the Author

    Timothy Keller is a pastor at the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. A graduate of Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary, he was a minister in his native Virginia before moving north with his wife, Kathy Keller, and their three children.

    Kathy Keller attended Allegheny College and completed her religious studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She’s the co-founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and a regular contributor to outlets such as the New York Times and Christianity Today.

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    The Meaning of Marriage FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Meaning of Marriage?

    The main message of The Meaning of Marriage is that marriage is a profound and transformative covenant designed to reflect God's love for humanity.

    How long does it take to read The Meaning of Marriage?

    The reading time for The Meaning of Marriage varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Meaning of Marriage a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Meaning of Marriage is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding the purpose and significance of marriage. It offers practical insights and guidance.

    Who is the author of The Meaning of Marriage?

    The authors of The Meaning of Marriage are Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller.

    What to read after The Meaning of Marriage?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Meaning of Marriage, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Sacred Marriage by Gary L. Thomas
    • Relationship Goals by Michael Todd
    • The All-or-Nothing Marriage by Eli J. Finkel
    • A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
    • Sacred Cows by Danielle Teller and Astro Teller
    • Radical Compassion by Tara Brach
    • Loving Your Spouse When You Feel Like Walking Away by Gary Chapman
    • The ADHD Effect on Marriage by Melissa Orlov
    • Marriage Be Hard by Kevin and Melissa Fredericks
    • Beyond Order by Jordan B. Peterson