It is no small feat to build a strong marriage. It is no easy thing to maintain a strong marriage through years of trials and temptations, through decades of sinning and being sinned against. It is not something any of us can take for granted and it is for this reason that there are so many resources available to help marriages start well and continue well.
New to store shelves is Bob Lepine’s Build a Stronger Marriage: The Path to Oneness, one of the inaugural books in a new series from New Growth Press titled “Ask the Christian Counselor.” (Other volumes include Anxious About Decisions; Angry with God; I Have a Psychiatric Diagnosis; and I Want To Escape.) The purpose of the book is to point couples to the most common “pressure points” in marriage and to address them from the Bible—to identify potential issues in a marriage and help a husband and wife solve them, thus strengthening their marriage.
The format is simple: The book is comprised of 17 brief chapters and each has a few pages of teaching followed by an assignment the couple is meant to complete together. Always a husband and wife are to consider their own issues or flaws ahead of the other person’s. After all, “the only person you can change is you. So instead of reading this book and hoping it will fix what is wrong with your mate, read it asking God to show you what needs to be addressed in your own life.” The chapters flow from the meaning and purpose of marriage, to examining past examples of marriage and events in life that may have contributed to marital difficulties, to matters related to conflict and forgiveness, to “best practices” that can strengthen and even restore a marriage. It’s a simple, effective format.
Though this book can be completed by a couple alone, many will benefit from involving someone else—perhaps a pastor or elder or perhaps another couple who has been married for a little longer and can serve as mentors. This is especially true of those whose marriages are in a serious state and who may need something more significant than a minor tune-up. (Do note that the book is titled Build a Stronger Marriage, not Save an Unraveling Marriage, so when the situation is dire, it would probably be best to pursue more formal counseling.)
Build a Stronger Marriage is an excellent little book and one I’m convinced will make a different in many marriages. I’d recommend pastors keep a few handy that they can give away to couples who are looking for just a little help. I’d recommend older couples keep a few handy and invite younger couples to join them in going through it together. And I’d recommend it to couples who may wish to join with a few others and strengthen their marriages together. In any case, it should serve its purpose well.
(Those who appreciate Lepine’s book may also want to look at his earlier work on marriage Love Like You Mean It: The Heart of a Marriage that Honors God.)
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