Last week, I received a free copy of Mark & Grace Driscoll’s Real Marriage from BookSneeze. Basically, the publisher sends bloggers free books in exchange for their honest reviews. (I haven’t been required to give a positive review, just honest feedback.)
Having been married for 17 years, I’m always interested in teaching that deals with life together as husband & wife. We want our marriage to be continually growing, and that doesn’t just happen by accident. Having worked in the church for most of that time, I’m also always looking for resources to help me help young people prepare for that life together as well. In addition to these reasons, I am usually pretty challenged by Driscoll’s forthright approach, so was looking forward to the book.
It’s broken into 3 sections, and while the 2nd one will get all the attention and spark a lot of debate (it’s the section primarily about sex), I found a lot of more practical teaching in the 1st section, and some great points of discussion in the 3rd.
Part 1 is essentially focused on the relational aspect of marriage. It talks about improving your marriage by being a better friend to your spouse, understanding differences you may have with your spouse, and dealing together with the sin in your lives. There’s a great emphasis on being more than just two people living parallel lives.
As I mentioned, Part 2 is about sex. I wonder how many readers will be either so distracted (because they’re too focused on sex) or offended (because they don’t want to hear anything about sex, or at least not that much) by this section that they’ll miss out on a lot of really good stuff in the rest of the book. The Driscoll’s didn’t write to avoid criticism, so this section will be too much for some. Which is too bad, because the book has some helpful things to say about this important part of the marriage relationship. While many in the church are uncomfortable talking about sex, this section will probably swing the pendulum too far for some to find the real message.
Part 3 makes the point that the most important day of your marriage is the last one. This is a point I could not agree with more, and one that I emphasize with young couples a lot. Our culture places so much focus on the wedding day… but what about the last day? Will it be full of regrets or bitterness? Or will it be a day where life together can be celebrated even amidst the sorrow of the death of a spouse? The Driscolls give a great list of questions for couples to discuss as they seek to live a life that makes the last day the best day. This section of the book will lead to some great (if difficult) discussions and in my opinion is the highlight of the book. It’s unfortunate that many will stop reading before they get here, or won’t be willing to do the work to actually have this conversation.
Some critics will be put off by the Driscolls’ frankness when it comes to talking about sex, but overall, I think Real Marriage could be a very useful tool. Going through the last chapter alone could be invaluable in helping young couples avoid becoming just one more set in the discard pile of broken marriages.