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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"No More Perfect Marriages" (Mark and Jill Savage)

TITLE: No More Perfect Marriages: Experience the Freedom of Being Real Together
AUTHOR: Mark and Jill Savage
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2017, (272 pages).

A real marriage is never perfect. It's simply two imperfect persons walking together toward being perfected. This is the key point of this book about marriage. Written by a couple who had faithfully practiced the popular list of marital advice, they still struggle through their marriages. They had spoken the various love languages. They had been intentional about communications. They have confessed their faith in Jesus and committed themselves to ministry in the Lord. They had worked hard on their relationships, with date nights and all the popular marriage formulas available in the market. Yet, for a period of time, their marriage fell into the pits. As people who have experienced what it means to be broken and humbled, they went through a personal re-education about what it means to be married. As they slowly climb out of their pits, they share with readers the seven fads of marital expectations. All of these have a common feature: They dilute the marriage slowly, by slowly fading hope, joy, and the beauty of marriage. These happen slowly but surely and early recognition could save marriages.
  1. Slow fade of Unrealistic Expectations
  2. Slow fade of Minimizing
  3. Slow fade of Not Accepting
  4. Slow fade of Disagreement
  5. Slow fade of Defensive Responses
  6. Slow fade of Naïveté
  7. Slow fade of of Avoiding Emotion

We also need to remove our masks in order to be real to each other. We are cautioned about the "comedian mask" that covers up inner hurts; the "caregiver mask" that assumes activities and busyness are the solutions to marriage; the "know-it-all mask" that boasts self-control; the "pleaser mask" that entices couples to do whatever necessary to keep the peace, including suppressing oneself; etc. If we are already imperfect, why pretend to be perfect? They help us trace our origin of imperfections with understanding as the goal. That means learning about our family of origins, our blueprints we inherited. We are challenged not just to remove our masks but to ask about the conditions that make us wear these masks. Once we have done some pre-diagnosis, we are ready to embark on learning some tools to deal with the consequences of such imperfections. As we progress, we must be reminded not to let our ideals blind us from the present reality. We must not minimize the things that matter to our spouses. We need to learn how to disagree as mature people. We learn about the problems when we become too defensive. Gradually, we are led to a place where we are honest about ourselves, open to our spouses, and willing to be humble partners in our marriage.

Each chapter ends with a challenge of thinking about the material in the chapter. We are to reflect on our own selves and our natural responses. We could summarize our thoughts and feelings through the learning points or takeaways from the chapter. We then commit the responses to prayer. A Scripture verse helps us lay our answers, our comments, and our learning under the Word of God. Each chapter essentially addresses each of the seven "slow fades." Truly, a marriage does not break down overnight. Like the proverbial saying about the feather that breaks the camel's back, any break down of a marriage does not happen because of one incident. It is due to many small things over a long period of time. Using the metaphor of "small fades," the authors essentially address these small things using their own lives as teaching points and painful lessons. In doing so, the authors demonstrate openness and brokenness, that while they are teachers, they are also learners at the same time. There is no sense of them being superior to us readers, but they invite us to learn with them, to share the journey that every couple has to make for themselves.

Marriages are crucial for society. Children need it. Families need it. Churches require it. Cities need it. It is a sacred commitment made before God and people. The single biggest reason why marriages struggle is because imperfect people are involved. Someone has said that marriage is like a box. At the beginning it is empty. It only gets filled up when the couple each contributes something into that box. They need to make a deposit in order to withdraw something next time. The currency of deposit is love. Sacrificial giving means one does not keep track of what was deposited or withdrawn. When the need arises, feel free to withdraw something. At all other times, make deposits, both spouses. From expectations to the reality of practicing love, we need to be gracious enough not to be too hard on ourselves. Neither should we be too harsh on our spouse when things do not meet our expectations. Challenge ourselves to be the person that God has called us to be, instead of always catering to the expectations of our spouse. Know that we are all imperfect people with imperfect expectations. This book exposes the many follies and missteps that many married couples had knowingly or unknowingly committed. With frankness and brutal honesty, it is hoped that the authors' experiences and setbacks would serve as a powerful launching pad to save marriages that are struggling and to enable all marriages to thrive. The discussion guide at the end of the book makes this book a very useful one for group study.

Mark and Jill Savage are marriage counselors after ministering in church ministry for 20 years. They have five grown children and live in Central Illinois. They are popular speakers and authors of several books. They minister together at "Hearts at Home," a "go-to place for moms."

Check out their "No More Perfect Marriages - A 10 Day Blog Series" here.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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