It may seem odd that I might request such a book for review. After many years of marriage it is hardly a necessary topic of interest. But it is. If I take the call of a Titus 2 woman seriously, I am reminded how important it is that I do not forget those younger years and seek opportunities to be well versed in the issues facing new marriages today. Besides, all my children are approaching that age and interest as well. My husband and I had a very unconventional courtship and early marriage (neither of us were Christians at the time) I felt I needed to see the advice of experts in order to advise well.
Many couples will say that their first year of marriage was difficult. For some reason, we think that two totally different people coming together to share life will be easy. Two people from two different families with different upbringings, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and emotions-no problem....
- Tim Popadic, Ready to Wed
Ready to Wed was that expert advice I needed. I found the book's instruction and shared experiences mirrored what I would tell any couple preparing to take the plunge. I may not have started out Christian, but as I came to the Lord I found myself applying many of the concepts this book discusses. I was certain, at that point, it must be Holy Spirit inspired!
The book is divided into 12 topics. Authored by Dr. Greg and his wife Erin Smalley, they open the writing podium up to other topic-relevant expert advisers to offer their own words of guidance and encouragement. Intrigued? Here are the 12 topics they discuss in detail:
Leaving your Parents and Cleaving to Your Spouse
The Power of Commitment
Honoring You All the Days of My Life
Soul Mates: Building Spiritual Intimacy
One Flesh: Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
Communication: The Language of Love
We are So Different!
What Do You Expect?
Fight Our Way to a Better Marriage
Teammates: Ending the Chore Wars Before They Start
Our Money Relationship
Storm Shelter: Dealing with Stress and Crisis
The series of insight is kicked off with a chapter discussing God's Design for Marriage. This and the intro prepare couples to take the book's journey, and marriage as a whole, together. The authors are good to remind couples that marriage isn't about the wedding day... it is about every day after. Their views are refreshing and to-the-point, helping couples tackle the hard topics (and some topics which most people don't discover need tackling until much farther into the marriage) right-up-front.
Scripture references appear throughout the pages helping couples recognize God's design for their future. Each chapter walks them through the topic being discussed with first an intro, then a relevant story from either personal or counseling experience, next some advice and insight on topic and scenarios and finally the topic is turned inward by presenting discussion topics and challenges for couples to take in an effort to set up realistic expectations and understandings even before they say "I Do"!
I knew, after the first few pages, this would be my new gift to ANY couple upon their engagement. The book is intended to be walked through AS A COUPLE over 12 separate sessions before the wedding day. Doing the math, consider purchasing this book at least 3 months before the wedding (or sooner) if you want to tackle a topic per week. However, there are no set rules for this book and 'cramming' weeks before a wedding would be most definitely acceptable!
Conversely, Ready to Wed can be helpful for ANY couple, especially those struggling in their marriage and feeling you could use a refresher on this journey of wedded matrimony. I found many of the chapters helpful reminders for my own marriage, even as secure as we are, and feel certain points issued a much needed booster-shot to areas of my relationship with my husband. This seems especially true when you consider this statement in chapter 13:
Opposition happens in a couple's life for many different reasons and can come in many different forms. The target of opposition is to keep you marriage from its God-given destiny-becoming what God intended it to be.
No matter how long you are married, the opposition is real, so why not arm couples with the tools they need to fight it from the beginning?! Ready to Wed is a GREAT weapon in any arsenal.
The only issue I took with the book was the fee for some of the tools the book refers you to. I feel this is a ministry and I understand the book costs money to print, but once a couple has invested in the book (possibly even 2 copies), all materials to enhance the experience online should be free. It looked like only the financial tools had no cost related to them.
The other issue (and not entirely an issue or fault of the authors, rather, a cautiousness on my part) is the suggestion to find a mentor couple and stressing the importance of this. Good advice, so why do I consider this an issue? Because there are MANY couples out there whose marriages look more secular then Christian. The book does not give clear guidelines for what to look for in a mentor couple and, therefore, the couple reading and following this advice might randomly pick a couple they simply 'like' without considering where this couple's spiritual walk is in their marriage.... ultimately leading to pour mentoring and contradictory advice which could be exasperating for the perspective newlyweds.
On that note, my advice: IF you know a couple who truly seeks to honor God in their honor of one another, does not cut each other down, does not treat each other like the couples in your favorite sitcom and who is, without a single doubt, faith-filled in every single area of their life.... seek them as your mentor couple. If not, it is better to do without a mentor couple then to have the wrong one! The Holy Spirit was my mentor as well as looking at all the bad marriages around me and choosing NOT to duplicate them!
I pray your marriage (perspective or current) is blessed with readiness for each situation. If you are secure in your 'bliss' then I pray you might be that mentor couple who guides others on a path of real and lasting relationships.
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.