From the blog:
Like all of life, marriage is fundamentally about God. It is a covenant undertaken before, and in the name of, God (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 2:17; Malachi 2:14-16). Like all of life, and like every part of life, marriage is what God says it is, and takes its meaning from Him. For a man, marriage is about loving, cleaving, embodying faithfulness, leading, self-sacrifice, knowing, honoring, and serving (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 5; Ephesians 5:23-33; 1 Peter 3:7). For a woman, marriage is about helping, cleaving, loving, respecting, submitting, obeying, serving and adorning (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 14:1; 31:10-31; Ephesians 5:22, 33; Titus 2:4; 1 Peter 3:1-6).
For both, at any time, marriage may well be about suffering… and not necessarily for doing anything wrong. Marriage does not cancel out Matthew 5:4, 10-12, 1 Peter 2:20, and a host of similar verses. Nor does it cancel out Matthew 16:24-26, or Luke 9:23, or the principle of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Your marriage may be the happiest facet of your life; it may be the most painful. Odds are it will be both, at times.
If your mindset is that marriage is all about making and keeping you feeling happy, without cost, you are likely to be shocked, horrified, and appalled to learn that it simply is not so. You will be unprepared. You will be undone. You will bolt for the door our culture so obligingly holds open for you.
If on the other hand you view your marriage as you and I should view everything else in this fallen world, as something undertaken before God, and as long as we expect that it will have its share of crosses — and as long as we accept that we need those crosses — we can and will find happiness in our marriages.
From the Essay: (he comes at it with an emphasis on children and their resiliency, which is not where I was headed with my search, but is another good point):
The pop culture’s propaganda is everywhere and has been for most of the last century. Not surprisingly, massive numbers of Christian families are blown apart by the “happiness myth.” This is especially ironic considering the Christian call to “take up your cross,” in other words, always to sacrifice yourself for the highest good – which paradoxically leads to the greatest and truest happiness.
I once counseled a Christian friend in Los Angeles who admitted to me that he’d been unfaithful to his wife. She found out – and he was distraught. I warned him that the pain he was feeling had a very dangerous other dimension to it. Instead of facing up to what he’d done to his family, he might start to deny it – by rationalizing that the “other woman” was his true love – and that his children were resilient and would understand.
He then admitted to me that he didn’t feel loved by his wife, and that he felt he deserved to experience this happiness. Of course, it is wonderful to be loved, but as I said above, the object of marriage is to love, not to be loved. Which is what I told him. Sadly for his wife and children, the call to being “loved” and being “happy” was too strong for him, and so were the culture’s lies about resilient children.