C.S. Lewis and Marriage

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I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis. Many are familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia. Especially The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. He is a theologian and writer of central importance in church and religious studies. He is famous for important theological books like Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce. What may not be as widely known is that he was married and lost his wife to cancer. So, he has lots to say on “for better, for worse” or “Til death do us part.” Several movies have been made about his life, and my favorite from the 1990s is Shadowlands. Anthony Hopkins plays the role of C.S. Lewis. It recounted their love story and the loss of his wife. He served a rich and full career as an Oxford professor and experienced the full scope of the human experience as a devoted husband.

Lewis left behind a wealth of wisdom on various aspects of life and theology, but I have always been fascinated by what he says about marriage. His reflections on love, commitment, and the human condition offer profound insights that continue to resonate with readers today.

Below are my five favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis on marriage.

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." - C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.

Lewis’s words encourage couples to embrace vulnerability in love. Despite the challenges of marriage, Lewis portrays it as a source of profound joy and fulfillment, especially when spouses are willing to sacrifice for each other and prioritize their commitment above personal wants and desires. Lewis acknowledges that opening oneself up to love entails the risk of heartbreak. Yet, he suggests that we experience the depth and richness of true love and joy through this vulnerability.  He suggests that love can transform individuals, enabling them to fulfill their promises and deepen their connection with each other and God.

"Being in love first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise." - C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.

Lewis says you need to prioritize commitment. He emphasizes the importance of fidelity and faithfulness in marriage; here, Lewis recognizes that while the initial emotions of being in love may fade, a more profound, enduring commitment is necessary to sustain a marriage through the trials and tribulations of life. In our culture, it is popular to talk about falling out of love or making sure that you are always happy. Commitment is hard for people to hear, but Lewis suggests it is the best way. True love requires a steadfast commitment to each other's well-being.


"In marriage, we have a duty to God, our spouses, the world, and future generations. But we are sinners. A husband and wife need to acknowledge that when the Bible speaks of fools, it is not just speaking about other people, but about them as well." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
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Lewis offers an eternal perspective on love and marriage, suggesting that earthly relationships are a glimpse of the deeper fulfillment of divine union with God. While recognizing the practical aspects of marriage, Lewis also emphasizes its spiritual dimension, suggesting that it involves a journey of mutual growth and sanctification. While Lewis acknowledges the earthly challenges of marriage, he also sees it as a sacred covenant ordained by God, reflecting divine love and commitment. He reminds couples of their human frailty and the need for humility and forgiveness within marriage, recognizing that both spouses are prone to faults and mistakes.

"Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives." - C.S. Lewis

Lewis underscores the significance of affection in nurturing happiness and intimacy within marriage, suggesting that it forms the foundation of enduring love. Genuine affection forms the foundation of enduring love and companionship. Affection, in a way, needs to be nurtured, practiced, and cultivated.

"The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.'" - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

Lewis invites couples to reflect on the nature of desire and fulfillment, suggesting that earthly desires may point to deeper spiritual realities and longings. What you want in this earthly life reflects a desire for something eternal. His reflections on spiritual longings bring his theology into the realm of relationships. Your desires in a relationship reveal what we long for in transcendent fulfillment.

C.S. Lewis's insights into marriage offer a timeless and profound perspective on love, commitment, and the human experience. His quotes, advice, and surprising insights guide couples in navigating the joys and challenges of married life, inspiring them to cultivate deep connections, embrace vulnerability, and nurture enduring love.

In his final book, The Last Battle, Lewis coined a powerful phrase: “Further up and further in.” It was a metaphor for approaching God. The idea was to keep your eyes on the goal and expect constant progress and growth. You will never ultimately know all there is to know about God, but you keep pursuing. The same can be said about your spouse. The pursuit is endless but continually brings you higher and more intimate.

In C.S. Lewis’s mind, if you think it is good now, keep going; it only gets better.

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