Marriage books that emphasise the relationship are a dime a dozen. Some are excellent, like Timothy Keller's The Meaning of Marriage. Others are just so much psychopop.
I found it refreshing to read Married for God, which says that marriage is not, ultimately, about the people in it, about their needs or their love or their relationship.
Marriage is about serving in partnership in God's world.
Adam didn't just need a "companion", a solution to loneliness. He needed a "helper", because the task God gave him was too big to do alone: to rule and fill God's world. So God made Eve to serve beside him in loving companionship.
It's important that married couples have a strong, intimate relationship, but this isn't just for their own sake: it's because their love overflows to others and invites them in.
Marriage doesn't ultimately look inwards. Relationally-obsessed marriages become stunted, introspective and self-destructive. Marriage looks outwards, as together husband and wife work in God's world and make Jesus known.
Married for God is written with a scholar's clarity and a writer's grace. The main point is occasionally overstated, yet it transformed my perspective on marriage in all kinds of helpful ways.
So if you haven't read Married for God, it's time to pick up this little book. It might just change the way you think about marriage.
Here's a little taste:
Our marriage need a passionate heart of intimacy that overflows in blessings to others…As a couple delighting in one another you can forge a new social unit whose heart is faithful love; and then out of that heart of faithful love can overflow generous love to others…Think about how, in partnership with one another, helping one another, your love can provide a centre of stable security; so that this safe home will become a refuge into which others can be welcomed. Think…how…your private intimacy can be at the heart of a relationship which overflows in love to others. (73-76)