I’ve been reading Tim Challies’ blog for years—it’s one of the few blogs I read on a regular basis. Challies releases new posts daily, and I’ve read nearly every one for the last five years. His content is biblical, thought-provoking, and Christ-exalting.
Two years ago, he published a post that I have a love-hate relationship with. As a marriage pastor, I love it. As a writer, I hate it.
The title of the post is Before You Read Another Book on Marriage.
Before You Read Another Book on Marriage
Challies discusses the abundance of solid marriage books already written that are grounded in the Bible and filled with godly wisdom. I couldn’t agree more! Books like:
- The Meaning of Marriage by Dr. Timothy and Kathy Keller
- Cherish and Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
- A Lasting Promise by Dr. Scott Stanley
- Your Best Us by Ted Lowe
These books have changed my life and my marriage. They guide the way I love my wife and the ways I lead others as a marriage pastor. But Challies says we need to stop reading so many marriage books. He says no one needs to read 6-8 different books about marriage.
As I writer, I cringe a little and question the necessity of new marriage books. Why did I write Ready or Knot? Why do we need another book on marriage if everything Challies said is true?
The Best Way to Learn About Marriage
There’s so much you and I can learn from others who are further down the road. And while I have learned so much from books by people like Keller, Thomas, and Stanley, the best lessons have been learned from watching and interacting with other couples—real life, flesh and blood human beings.
I’ve learned how to communicate from John and Pam. I’ve learned how to pray from Jim and Judy. Kristen and I have learned how to have fun from Tim and Emily. I’ve learned how to raise kids from Will and Kelly and I’ve learned how to suffer well with a dying spouse from Gloria and my mom. Both courageous women buried their husbands in the last few years. The list goes on and on and on.
As Challies says in his article, “stop reading and start inviting—stop with the marriage books and begin to invite yourself into the lives and homes of people whose marriage you admire.” If you are a wiser married couple, read books and blog posts with younger couples.
Challies closes his article with the following:
“Books are wonderful, and I believe strongly in the value of reading. Books on marriage can be wonderful, and I have benefitted from reading many of them. But the best and most helpful books on marriage are the ones being lived out by husbands and wives in your family, in your neighborhood, and especially in your church. Read them longer and more thoroughly than any other.”
Learn From Other Couples
Read great marriage books. Listen to podcasts and read blog posts. But more importantly, don’t just buy books and read them or listen to podcasts on your own. Instead, interact with other couples about what you’re learning.
Ask another couple out to dinner. Invite a wiser couple into your home or out for coffee. Interact with the content in the book and podcast and ask others how it plays out in their marriage.
Ask wise couples questions like this:
- How do you deal with unmet expectations in your marriage?
- How do you keep the spark alive in your marriage? Do you still “date” each other?
- What do you do when one of you is “in the mood” and the other “has a headache?”
- How do you make decisions about spending? Giving? Schedule? Meals? Household chores?
- What does spiritual intimacy look like in your marriage? When do you pray together? Or, why do you not pray together?
- How do you make decisions about trying to grow your family? Discipline? Activities for your kids?
This list is just a start! Ask yourself what you need to learn and figure out who you’re going to learn it from. Stop reading and start asking. Learn from others and spend time with other couples.
What’s your favorite marriage book? Who’s another married couple you’ve learned from?
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