"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

-C.S. Lewis

What we read has such an impact on us, and I am always on the lookout for something that will inspire me to be a better person. Here is a sampling of books that have been in the teetering stack sitting on top of what is rumored to be my bedside table.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Before You Plan Your Wedding Plan Your Marraige, by Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley

     There are 3 weddings (that I know of) in my family's immediate future, and so I've been looking for good engagement gifts.  One thing I've discovered is that wow there are a lot of books on this topic!  Unfortunately, I've also discovered that for every good pre-wedding book out there, there are 3 or 4 not-so-good books.  There are also a few that are so downright awful you wonder if the author is conducting an experiment to see how much one book can contribute to the high divorce rate.

     Before You Plan Your Wedding... Plan Your Marriage is one of the good ones - the best of the good ones, actually.  So I thought it merited a review.  Because honestly, every couple from the newly engaged to the long married would benefit from the wisdom in this book.  Each chapter lends itself to both personal reflection as well as discussion between the engaged or already married couple.

     The authors start by discussing how to have an engagement that truly prepares the couple for marriage.  That segment is followed by chapters that delve into better self-awareness.  The reader is guided through a series of highly effective (I know because I've done them!) exercises on learning more about what drives his or her own fears and expectations.  Why is all this self-evaluation important?  Because those fears and expectations are going to affect you in ways you can't always imagine.  If you can't articulate them to yourself, they're going to control you, when it should be the other way around.  They're also going to control your approach to difficulties in your marriage.  And an argument where you don't realize exactly what is bothering you is an argument that is never going to be truly resolved.

     Once the authors lead the reader through this journey into self-awareness, they teach how to use this self-awareness in a manner that is healthy to not just the individual, but the marriage.  The rest of the book is largely devoted to good communication strategies, forgiveness, and teamwork in a marriage.  There is also a great section on marital roles in a God-honoring marriage (and no, this doesn't mean the husband gets to boss the wife around).  There is also a very important section on leaving and cleaving, the Biblical ideal of becoming one with your spouse, forsaking all others.

     I feel that this book is Scripturally sound.  As such, it's going to be of benefit to the Christian couple.  However, if you aren't Christian, this book is still going to be immensely helpful to you.  The sections on self-awareness and good communication apply to everyone.  I've read many books on marriage, both Christian and secular, and this book leaves most of the others far behind.  The authors do a good job of mixing sound advice with amusing anecdotes, and it's a pleasure to read.  I recommend it to anyone who is engaged or just simply wants a better marriage.

Five out of Five Stars