Having a successful marriage is hard. What fascinated us in our potential spouse often is found irritating after marriage. Choices are made everyday that lead to improvement or decline in a marriage. How do we know what to do?
The Merrills have been working for twenty years on making marriages better. They have taken their combined experience and an analysis of comments on their posts and created lists. They have developed the format of lists because they can be readily used in our fast paced and complicated lives.
The lists are designed to help us manage our expectations, evaluate how we are doing (using God's standards), and give ways to improve our marriage. The Merrills have found that these areas are ones where people want help.
There are thirty lists so one could be reviewed each day for a month. Readers could also just go to a specific list, wanting to work on a specific area. There are “Taking the Next Step” sections at the end of each chapter containing evaluation questions and action suggestions.
What are on these lists? The first one contains truths, such as, marriage is hard work. The next one contains things to remember, like our marriage vows. Other lists remind us of the power of words, actions to stop doing, unfair expectations we might have of our spouse, what we should expect of our spouse, what we want to hear from our spouse, forgiveness, respectful treatment in public, and much more.
There are two books, one with lists for husbands and the other with lists for wives. The text of both books are generally the same. Each book is written from the view point of the spouse, however, and contains a few gender specific illustrations and issues. What wives would like to hear from their husbands is quite different from what husbands would like to hear from their wives. There is a chapter for husbands on pornography while the corresponding chapter for wives deals with hardening the heart. But the format of the books allow spouses to generally discuss each chapter together.
I like the way these books have been designed. I like the idea of doing a chapter a day for a month, then starting over again. The suggestions for evaluation and action at the end of each chapter are good. Some of the suggestions seem a little contrived, however. I'm not sure I'd appreciate a compliment I received from my spouse knowing it came verbatim from a book.
I recommend these books to couples wanting to tune up their marriage. The books would also make a good anniversary gift. While God is mentioned frequently in these books, there is no use of the Bible so these books would be good for all couples, not just Christians.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Mark Merrill is the founder and president of Family First, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people love their families well. He hosts The Family Minute, a nationally syndicated daily radio program. He also gives marriage and parenting wisdom through his blog and podcast at www.markmerrill.com. He is the author of All Pro Dad – Seven Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids. He and his wife, Susan, live in Tampa, Florida, and have five children.
Susan Merrill is the director of content for Family First and oversees the content creation and digital marketing of all Family First platforms. She blogs at www.susanme.com/ and is the author of The Passionate Mom – Dare to Parent in Today's World. She is married to Mark and is the mother of their five children.
You can find out more about their ministry at https://www.familyfirst.net/.
FaithWords, 208 pages each.
I received complimentary copies of these books from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.