Why I Don’t Like Marriage Books (Except This One)

January 9, 2013

Can I make a confession?

My wife and I did not go to pre-marital counseling.


I know.  Shocking.  I just didn’t see the point.  I mean, our only problem was planning the wedding…and wanting to get married.  It seems to me that couples should schedule some post-marital counseling.  You know, because that’s actually when couples have problems, right?

I have another confession to make.

I don’t really like most marriage books.  My wife and I have read all about love, submission, respect, communication, whatever.  It’s just that, like pre-marital counseling, they just don’t quite hit the mark for me.

If you’re like me, and most marriage books seem like filler and fluffy language, then I’ve got a marriage book for you.

What Qualifies Someone To Write a Marriage Book?

My problem with marriage books is that most of them (with few exceptions) give an ideal of marriage.  They show a picturesque image of a married couple.  Sure, the author may throw in a couple of anecdotes about that one time he and his wife disagreed on name-brand verses generic cereal (or some equally trivial matter), but they prayed through it and God healed their marriage.

But it never feels all that real.  Marriage advice always seems to come from some ivory tower, from couples who never needed to go to a family counselor.  It’s all pie-in-the-sky, kiss and make up nonsense with some Bible verses thrown in for good measure.

A Marriage Book About a Real Marriage

I met Justin Davis last fall at the Bloggers Meetup in Atlanta.  He and his wife, Trisha run Refine Us and he is a campus pastor at Cross BeyondOrdinary_spine_3DPoint.  I had corresponded with him several months prior and had even featured him as a guest here on the blog.

I came away from meeting Justin with two thoughts:

First, the guy is way taller than I expected him to be.  Seriously, he’s enormous.

Like a golem.

He could probably pick up Pete Wilson by his head with one hand.

Second, he and his wife, Trisha have written a completely unique marriage book, Beyond Ordinary: a He Said / She Said Memoir.

To Be a Fly On the Wall

You know how most marriage books sort of prop up the author and his spouse as the “model couple?”

Justin and Trisha’s book is more like: see what we did?  Now do the exact opposite.

It really is written in a “he said / she said format.”  You’re going to get to see both sides of every story.

Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered what it would like to hear peoples’ darkest secrets, like a family counselor (or a priest), this is your chance.  If your marriage has had a problem, Justin and Trisha can probably relate to it.  You’re not getting any ivory tower advice from a couple that has never had a bicker together.  You’re going to see how to rescue a marriage from the very depths.

Here’s the deal.  You should own Beyond Ordinary.  It’s a completely unique take on a well worn genre.  Justin and Trisha have a heart for helping couples rescue their marriage, because they’ve been there.  If you still aren’t sure, you can even read chapters one and two right here and now!  The rest of you should go ahead and grab the book.  Take it from me, a guy who hates marriage books.

Who knows? Maybe I need to give relationship books another chance.  What’s the best one you’ve read?

11 responses to Why I Don’t Like Marriage Books (Except This One)

  1. Hubs and I took a “love languages” test one time for something or other (now that I think about it, that seems weird because I don’t ever remember _studying_ the 5 love languages, but anyway….). I came away reassured that we were perfect for one another, not because our top love languages matched (I think he was strongly words of affection/service and I was physical touch or something), but because he scored a 2 for gifts (I forget out of how many possible points, but seems like it was only like 15 or 20) and I scored a big, fat 0.

    Our bank account is thanking God for matching the two of us together. I got a replacement compost bin for Christmas. Not the most romantic of gifts, but something I’d been needing for a while. He got the Wendy’s key tag that gets him a free tiny Frosty with every purchase. We also got very little stress!

    I totally didn’t answer any of your questions.

  2. Hey Matt…thanks for your honest and real review of our book. I hope other guys read this post and know that this was written with them, as well as their wife in mind. Thanks again for helping us share this message.

  3. Will get it. my wife and I have been through…a lot. Read the early days of my blog to see what I mean…

    Anyway, GOD has redeemed our marriage and we have been asked by a younger couple to meet with and pray for them. The word “counseling ” was never mentioned, thankfully, or I may have declined. I am not a counselor, but I would love to share our mistakes and scars with a young couple starting out…

    Not sure you guys will read this…but would you suggest it for people already married, pre-marriage, or both? Thanks.

    • Lazarus, thanks for your comment and I hope you resonate with the book. Our story is much like yours in being through a lot and is using it to help others…so keep on my friend. I think this book would be very helpful for pre-marital conversations. I have used the content of the book in several pre-marital sessions.

      Would love your thoughts as you go through it. Praying for you guys!

  4. Pete and I have read an assortment of books on marriage and on raising kids. They were helpful, especially the ones on raising kids. I can’t think of one in particular I’d highly recommend, at this point. (We’ve been married 33 years, so it was quite a while ago.)

    However, we did go to premarital counseling, and that was extremely helpful. What book did we study? The Bible.

  5. I hate marriage books. The best marriage advice I’ve received over the years has been from my parents because 1) they’ve been married a long time and 2) they know my idiosyncracies better than any self-help book. I have yet to come across any self-help book couple that sounds anything like me or my husband.

  6. I actually have enjoyed several books on marriage and know how to take “perfection” with a grain of salt. My two favorite books are Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” and Willard Harvey’s “His Needs, Her Needs.” I could give you positives and negatives about each, but overall they have been helpful to me and to those with whom I’ve shared. I look forward to reading Beyond Ordinary. (Here’s hoping there’s a Kindle version! )

  7. I haven’t read many marriage books, though sometimes we get the “Cliff Notes” versions through Focus on the Family podcasts. Our pastor had us go through marriage preparation workbooks like “Before You Say ‘I Do'” and a Larry Burkett finance workbook. What I liked about it is that it guided you through discussions and helped you REALLY get to know your spouse. Those were very helpful in giving us a solid foundation for marriage because we knew each other very well emotionally before our wedding night and there were very few surprises in our first year of marriage.

    We do have a lot of parenting books, however. Our church gave out different books when each child was dedicated and we went through a course based on a Paul Tripp book.

  8. I was worried about my husband,he carries all types of girls and when he likes is when he comes home,i have thought of getting a divorce but i could not resist a minute without him in my life,I just had to bear it on till one day i was i was searching for advise on marriage on the internet when I saw some one made mentioned of a spell caster that helped her when her husband left her for another woman the,it seems amazing to me because i not head that before but thus i had to email the spell caster called Priest Ajigar I was lucky his email was also on the site posted by the woman who share her testimony was also lucky Priest Ajigar agreed to help me cast a spell on him to make him faithful and love me,every thing was done and with a surprise i worked as he told just in three days he began to change for good and finally told me to forgive him for cheating on me,i told him to promise me he will not cheat on his wife again,quickly he said it will not happen again and even swear with his life that he will never cheat on his wife again the next day he bought me a rose flower and a beautiful gown.This is where I have to end my true life story hear is his email in case you need his help(priestajigarspells@live.com)