Review Date: 2/5/2012 by Shaun Tabatt
After more than fourteen years of marriage, I am keenly aware of how little I knew about relationships and communication on the day my beautiful bride and I walked down the aisle. Nearly a decade and a half later, we are entering the latter part of our thirties. One of the harsh realities that has come to pass during the past few years is that the marriages of several friends and acquaintances have ended in divorce. We grieve for these losses and broken relationships, but we strive not to judge too harshly for it is but by God’s grace and a series of key people and books that we have been fortunate enough to celebrate fourteen wedding anniversaries and counting.
Enough about me, let’s talk about you. If you were to rate your marriage on a scale of one to ten, where would it fall? A nine, four, negative 3? How would your spouse rate your marriage? Chances are it would not be exactly the same. If we decided to dig a little deeper and have both you and your spouse make a list of the top three factors that contribute to your ratings, we would most likely expose some “growth areas” for your marriage. If we are willing to be honest with ourselves, the reality is that whether our marriage feels like a ten or a negative 3, there is always room to grow and improve our relationship with our spouse. That is precisely what Gary and Norma Smalley intend to help you do in their book 4 Days to a Forever Marriage.
In recent years, it seems that of the writing of marriage books there is no end. With such a wide variety of choices in front of you, it can be difficult to decide where to start. In my opinion, not all marriage books are created equal. It is important to understand who the author is and what he or she is about in order to know whether or not a particular book is right for you. Gary and Norma Smalley are credible authors for a book on marriage. They have been married for forty seven years and have counseled thousands of couples at the Smalley Relationship Center. Whether in their own marriage or in the marriages of those they have counseled, it would be fair to say that they have pretty much seen it all.
4 Days to a Forever Marriage is a tool designed to encourage couples to spend four days working to transform their marriage relationship. The basic concept the book builds upon is that as we interact with our spouse, we can choose to respond in either love or anger. Using that simple choice as the foundation, the book introduces a new relational concept in each chapter. The relational concepts are:
- Day 1: Loving Words and Actions
- Day 2: Communication and Resolving Anger
- Day 3: Affection and Intimacy
- Day 4: Trials and Treasures
The book draws heavily on Gary and Norma’s relationship as it has been refined over the course of forty seven years. They share each of their perspectives on a given situation, which I found immensely helpful for a better understanding of how my wife would feel or respond in a similar situation. There are numerous scripture references in each chapter. I would strongly encourage readers to keep a Bible handy as they work through the book in order to maximize their reading experience. At the close of each chapter, there is a “For the Husband” and “For the Wife” section where readers are asked to summarize the principles they have learned in the chapter. Not only will this be valuable for helping each of you to thoroughly learn the concepts introduced in the book, it also presents an opportunity to have an honest discussion with your spouse about how these principles can be applied to your marriage relationship. Once you are finished with the readings for all four days, be sure to make use of the additional reading at the end of the book. I highly recommend the section addressing the different seasons of marriage: engaged couples, newly married couples, married with children, and empty nesters / remarriage. It will also be worthwhile to review a few tidbits they have included from a few of Gary’s other books. My favorites were The Smalley “Fighting Rules,” A Dozen Ways to Engage Your Spouse, and Romance on a Shredded Shoestring Budget.
Let me bring this review to a close with a bit of self-disclosure. In my reading diet, I tend to be a biblical and theological studies non-fiction reader, so I normally shy away from “marriage” and “relationship” books. I was a bit apprehensive as I began working through 4 Days to a Forever Marriage, but I soon realized that this book was different. Throughout the book, readers will encounter pictures of Gary, Norma, and their extended family. Each chapter is filled with personal commentary from both Gary and Norma making it very personable and accessible. It was almost like the Smalleys were sitting on a couch across from me having a discussion.
Now that I have gone through the book once for my review, I plan on going through it a second time with my wife as I know there is a lot our marriage will benefit from in this great little book. One suggestion for using this book is to work through it with your spouse like I am doing. A few other situations where this book would be of good use is a small group study, marriage retreat, and pastoral / Christian counseling. Let me close by expressing my heartfelt thanks to Gary and Norma Smalley for penning this fine little book. I pray that it would bear much fruit in Christian marriages for years to come.
Where to buy:
This book was provided by New Leaf Publishing Group for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
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