Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If You Have a Love Problem, You Have a God Problem: A Review of Marriage Matters

            No matter what culture says, there is no doubt that marriage is an important foundation of society.  Regardless of race, religion, political, or social background marriage exists and has existed in every society that we know of from the ancient Egyptians to every country in the world today.  Yet marriage is also greatly under assault.  Much of this is due to how we treat marriage; the proliferation of no fault divorce and adultery are just some examples of how we continue to attack this foundation. 

            I have been married for almost eleven years now and know with how little regard I have treated my marriage.  Although, through the power of Christ, I have made many strides to restore my marriage, and to again build upon a Biblical foundation there is no doubt that with the attacks I have leveled against my marriage I needed some guidance and insight into what I can do better.  Recently I received the opportunity to begin book reviews for another publishing house, New Growth Press, and this review will focus on a book I received from them, Marriage Matters: extraordinary change through ordinary moments by Winston T. Smith.

            Until recently I have never been a fan of marriage books, yet as I have been growing in my relationship with my wife it was a marriage book that ultimately helped me realize that I was no doing all that I could. Just prior to our middle daughter being born Jen and I got to take part in a couple study on Love and Respect.  This book was the beginning of turning me around in how I loved and treated my wife.  This does not mean I still have not struggled on loving her like I need to, but I began to see things that made sense to me.  When I saw Marriage Matters as one of the options for review, I decided to take a look at another marriage book to see what else I might learn.

            Smith starts off this book with sharing a personal story about his own marriage.  In brief summary he felt that his wife was not keeping his needs in perspective as she went out on a Saturday morning and early afternoon with her friends.  This particular day was a busy day, as any parents of two or more children can imagine.  He explains how one had to get to baseball practice, the other had to go to a birthday party, and Smith was trying to prepare for a Bible study that evening (Smith 2010).  How many of us have been in a similar circumstance?  We know that there are things we need to do, but our spouse is not home, or is tied up doing something.  Suddenly we do not care whether or not what they are doing is important after all they are messing with a schedule we had already agreed upon.  I know I have fallen into this cycle myself many times.  Smith describes these as the ordinary moments (Smith 2010).

            In these ordinary moments we often time questions the love our spouse has for us.  In all reality though we are not showing love to our spouse.  Instead we are thinking about ourselves, and the impact their supposed self-centeredness had on what we needed to accomplish.  We begin to treat our spouse in an unloving manner, either getting angry or withdrawing into ourselves.  Smith quotes from 1 John 4:7-12 as he begins to get into the meat of chapter 1. 

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  God’s love was reveled among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.  No one has ever seen God.  If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us (Holman Christian Standard Bible, HCSB).

Shortly after quoting this Scripture Smith makes a very interesting and powerful observation.  “A lack of love should prompt us to not just look more closely at our marriage but at our relationship with God.” (Smith 2010)  He then goes on to say, “The bad news: your love problems are bigger than you think because love problems are God problems.” (Smith 2010)  What a powerful observation, and one I was very oblivious to for the majority of my marriage thus far. 

            From this observation Smith begins to help show how the ordinary moments can be extraordinary.  Smith divides his book into three sections to help build upon this basic principle.  In the first section Smith focuses on “God in the ordinary moments.” The second section is “Extraordinary love in the details of marriage”, and then his final section is “Staying on the path”.  Each section is well built upon, and upon the ending of this book the reader does have a good picture of what it looks like to see “extraordinary change in ordinary moments.”

            In this book I see no weakness at all.  Smith does well using personal stories to explain his points in each of the chapters, and this book is filled with Scripture and Scripture references.  There are many strengths in this book which make it great for not only reading as an individual or couple, but also for small group or Bible Studies as a tool to help tackle the Biblical principles of marriage.  Each chapter contains questions to help the reader focus in on the picture that the chapter is trying to portray.  This is a book I will certainly read again.

            I find it very easy to rate this book 5 out of 5 for practicality and application, as well as insight and direction.  This book will benefit engaged couples as they prepare to enter into the challenges and joys of marriage as well as the veteran couple who have been married for decades.  I look forward to seeing the other books that are offered by New Growth Press.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from New Growth Press as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”