The Meaning of Marriage | Week 2

Week 2 | Chapter One: The Secret of Marriage (Part 1)

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This week 3 Pax met at Adventure Park to continue our latest book study: The Meaning of Marriage. Thank you everyone that was able to attend. We covered the first half of chapter one. We will be reading a half chapter per week (appx. 15 pages). See The Current Reading Plan. Each week there will be a marriage exercise posted to complete along with the reading assignment. See the end of this back blast for this week’s assignment.


Ephesians 5:31-32

A man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery…

At times, marriage can seem to be an unsolvable puzzle, a maze in which you feel lost. However, there’s no relationship between human beings that is greater or more important than marriage.

The Decline of Marriage

  • Marriage health and satisfaction has been on steady decline over the last 40 years.
  • More than half of all people live together before getting married.
  • A common misconception is that marriages are more likely to end in divorce if the couples do not live together first.

The Surprising Goodness of Marriage

  • A substantial body of evidence indicates that those who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce.
  • Individuals who are continuously married have 75% more wealth at retirement.
  • Additionally, married men have been shown to earn 10-40% more than single men.
  • Married people experience greater physical health, mental health and maturity.

The History of Marriage

  • Belief in the desirability and goodness of marriage was once universal, but that is no longer true.
  • The ideal of marriage as a permanent contractual union designed for the sake of mutual love, procreation and protection is slowly giving way to a new reality of marriage as a ‘terminal sexual contract’ designed for the gratification of the individual parties.
  • One perspective is that the purpose of marriage is to create a framework for lifelong devotion and love between a husband and wife. A solemn bond, designed to help each party subordinate individual impulses and interests in favor of the relationship, to be a sacrament of God’s love and serve the common good.
  • Marriage is a gift given to humanity by God.
  • Lifelong marriage creates the only kind of social stability in which children can grow and thrive.
  • The enlightenment privatized marriage, taking it out of the public sphere and redefined its purpose as individual gratification and not and “broader good” such as reflecting God’s nature, producing character or raising children.

The Search for a Compatible “Soul Mate”

  • Many men interviewed are waiting to marry until they find the “perfect soul mate”.
  • Compatibility, to men interviewed, meant sexual attraction and someone that will take them as they are. In other words, won’t change them.

Making Men Truly Masculine

  • Part of the traditional understanding of marriage is that it “civilized” men.
  • Many men interviewed did not want marriage to curtail their freedom.
  • Marriage is a place where men become truly masculine. That is, one of the primary and most valued characteristics of manhood is self-mastery.

The Irony of Pessimistic Idealism

  • Older views of marriage are considered to be traditional and oppressive, while the newer view of the “Me-Marriage” seems so liberating.
  • It is the newer view that had led to a steep decline in marriage and to an oppressive sense of hopelessness with regard to it.
  • In our society we are too pessimistic about the idea of “monogamy” because we are too idealistic about our expectations of a marriage partner. This is because we have a flawed understanding of the purpose of marriage itself.

Homework for 10/19

  • Finish reading Chapter One: The Secret of Marriage.
  • Marriage Exercise: Each day this week, tell your wife something that you appreciate about her.

Thoughts for the week:

  • Should love and marriage be difficult? It should be easy, right?
  • Does marriage provide anything that we cannot already get from God?
  • What is the secret of marriage, as described in this chapter?

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