And yet another marriage book
I am fully resigned to the happy fact that I will never be a great leader, because I have no plans to write a marriage book. It seems to be, increasingly, a prerequisite for leadership. And, plop, on the doormat here comes yet another – this time Francis and Lisa Chan’s You and me forever. It’s not long, running to 187 pages and is generously spaced, so it’s not going to take you long to read. It’s an easy read too, being very chatty (sometimes annoyingly so, just get to the point already!).
Here’s the thing about marriage books. I find that very few are the complete deal. Each has its strengths and each tends to tackle one particular aspect. Partly this is because each is trying to have a USP (a unique selling point in marketing terms) which differentiates it from the crowd. So, it seems to me, that they are becoming increasingly niche. What I really want is a marriage book compendium. Such a volume would:
- take the biblical philosophical grounding from Christopher Ash’s Married for God
- take the sermonic temporary picture from Eph 5 pastorally worked out in John Piper’s This momentary marriage
- take the practical tips and workbook from Brian Edwards’ No Longer Two
- take the chapter on friendship (but not much else) from Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage
- take the reality check from Paul Tripp’s What did you expect?
- take the commitment theme from Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage
- take the section on pulling weeds from Alistair Begg’s Lasting Love
- et al.
The Chans’ book is strong on how the secret to happy marriage is to focus first on our vertical relationship with God; especially as a means to avoiding idolatry of marriage itself. Well said. And there’s a pretty good chapter on parenting. But couples can’t be expected to read all these books! So here’s my suggestion instead.
What really counts in church life is not a load of books, but real, living relationships. Young couples need older couples to meet with, pray with, and from whom they can seek advice. Older couples need peers who can challenge and encourage. Books can help of course – and they are a tremendous resource. But nothing beats living books. And that is why church life, where couples invest in couples, is so important.