Jolly Blogger, a self-described complementarian and a pastor for many years, just hit the ball out of the park with this post on Ten Things I Think About Marriage and the Marriage Relationship.
Yes, I am a Christian egalitarian. Yes, I am recommending a marriage post from a complementarian. Write that factoid down somewhere and keep it safe.
Fighting the deep urge to cut and paste his entire delicious post, I humbly offer a few snippets:
...the Scriptures show that God is comparatively unconcerned about your
marriage and not focused on it much at all.
Granted, I know that you are supremely concerned about your marriage and many
are very focused on making it a good one and my guess is that, if you surveyed
most Christians and churches they would say that the crisis in marriage and
family is one of the most important issues facing the church today.
But a reading of the New Testament doesn't reflect an overwhelming concern
with marriage and the family on the part of it's author (God!).
...And for my first thought I'll use the book in the New Testament that gives us the most extensive marriage advice as a basis. That book is Ephesians and it gives us two whole paragraphs on the marriage relationship, along with a very short paragraph on how to be a good Christian kid and one sentence on how to be a good Christian parent. This is a veritable encyclopedia on marriage and family compared to other books in the New Testament.
5. I think I think the first thing to notice is that all of this marital advice comes at the tail end of a long series of expositions and explanations of vital Christian doctrine. The marital advice is just kind of tacked on at the end as one application of the crucial doctrinal matters that precede it. I think it is not too big a stretch to infer from this that understanding all of this doctrine is foundational to understanding our roles in marriage.
Ergo, while it is ok to read a marriage book and/or go to a marriage conference, your time would be better spend reading expositional and theological tomes and going to bible/theology conferences. Again, the marriage stuff is good, but without the extensive biblical/theological grounding you need to apply the marriage advice. Going straight to the marriage advice without taking the extended time to understand the biblical/theological basis will be like putting the proverbial bandaid on cancer.
In closing, here is just one more set of stolen paragraphs:
9. I think I think that many Christian marriages could be enormously
more happy if the spouses would put aside the fact that they are married to one
another and just treat one another as if they were Christians. Galatians 6:10
tells us to do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household
of faith. In other words, of all the relational duties we owe to each
other as humans, as neighbors and as enemies, we are to be especially careful to
fulfill these duties to fellow Christians.
If you are claim to be a Christian and are married to a Christian you owe
your spouse all of the things you owe any other human being, just more so.
In my pre-marital counseling and marriage counseling I try to tell people
that there is no special category of counsel called "marital counseling" it's
all about basic Christian discipleship. This takes me back to my first
point where I say we are missing the boat in marriage and marriage counseling.