Ready to Wed – ed. Greg and Erin Smalley

Ready to Wed

QUICK HIT: Ready to Wed is a fountain of needed advice that will start your marriage off right. Stop planning for the wedding and start planning for the marriage.

Only 35-40% of engaged couples seek out and receive quality premarital counseling. This despite that fact that such counseling makes divorce 30% less likely and results in a 30% increase in marital satisfaction. In other words, counseling makes your marriage last and it makes your marriage better.

There are thousands of books out there on marriage and many of them are solid books coming from a Christian worldview. Ready to Wed stands above many of these and becomes a must-read by bringing in a whole host of counselors to talk about what they know best. With fourteen chapters of about 20 pages each, the book’s format easily lends itself to counseling purposes.

Part one covers proactively investing in your marriage and begins with the all-important chapter on leaving and cleaving. Chapter author Ted Cunningham lovingly and tactfully covers how to separate from one’s parents while still maintaining a relationship with them. Other chapters cover communication (Joshua Straub), sexual intimacy (Juli Slattery), and an intense focus on commitment (Scott Stanley, Gary Smalley) and spiritual intimacy (Joe White).

Part two focuses on conflict management and covers topics like personal differences (John Trent), expectations (Bill and Pam Farrel), chores (Susan and Dale Mathis), money (Scott and Bethany Palmer), and dealing with crises (Greg and Erin Smalley). One thing you’ve probably noticed is that most of these chapters are written by a couple. That means you don’t just get a profession opinion, you’re getting a professional opinion that’s also based on real-life experience.

The only chapter I have any criticism on is Greg and Erin Smalley’s chapter on fighting well. While I agree with their suggestions for conflict resolution, I do not agree with the premise that fighting is necessary. Marriage sometimes means differences and conflict, but I don’t believe that those things must lead to a fight. They write that out of these fights comes growth, but can’t such growth also come from dealing with the situation before it escalates to a fight?

Perhaps the Smalley’s are defining fight differently than I am. And I do think that’s partially the case. They certainly aren’t advocating having knock-down-drag-out shouting matches. To them, “fighting” means to learn to positively deal with conflict. But I still don’t like the terminology. Fighting pits two people on opposite sides and must have a winner and a loser. That’s the opposite of what conflict resolution in marriage should look like!

But, given that my only criticism is quite literally mostly semantics, I’ll let it slide. Ready to Wed is a fountain of needed advice that will start your marriage off right. Stop planning for the wedding and start planning for the marriage.