The Sweet Christian Bride

Featured Resource: Preparing for Marriage

Preparing for Marriage: The Complete Guide To Help You Discover God’s Plan for a Lifetime of Love

By David Boehi, Brent Nelson, Jeff Schulte, and Lloyd Shadrach

Summary: Expectations.  The whole book can be summed up by the idea of expectationsdebunking them and refining them so that they don’t plague a marriage before it has begun.  This books asks the reader to measure his and her expectations against what Scripture says.  Essentially, this is pre-marital counseling in a book.  It asks the hard questions, the important questions, of a couple who desires to be married according to God’s will and according to God’s design for marriage.  This is not a fluffy, feel-good book.  It’s one that asks the reader to seriously examine his or her relationship and context for relationships.

Value: As I read through this book, I was constantly amazed at how truly Biblical the perspectives and questions were.  I’ve seen a number of engagement workbooks that are Christian, but they seem to shy away from the really nitty-gritty questions that are vital for a God-glorifying marriage.   For example, the authors do not assume you should be married as most other engagement books do.  Instead, they pose questions, projects, and Scripture exploration to move the reader through a journey of discovering and confirming the rightness of his or her engagement along the way, and they offer some counsel for those who find this is not the right person to be married to.

The authors also include questions in each section for couples who have been married before.  This is a demographic who is often forgotten in bridal resources but who need pre-marital counseling just as much as a first-time bride or groom.  This book welcomes remarriage without watering down the Biblical allowances and limitations for divorce and remarriage.  Again, the writers do not assume that a couple should be married again.  They ask questions to help determine whether the spouses have tried to reconcile with their previous spouse and whether they have Biblical grounds for remarriage.

Highlights: Preparing for Marriage digs deeply into the hot topics of marriage: Family of origin, parenting, money, faith, roles, and sex.   In each section, there is an opportunity for Bible study, exploratory questions, personal projects, couple prayers, and couples projects.

One of my favorite exercises in this book is the parent interview.  The authors list questions that the bride and groom get to ask their parents.  Some parents don’t have a natural forum for imparting wisdom to their children, so this project creates an opportunity for that.   While keeping a firm watch over leaving and cleaving, the authors also emphasize honoring parents.

I also love the project on decision-making, which takes the couple through some deep evaluation about their compatibility.  The book teaches what sources a couple should seek counsel from in order to seek God’s will about the relationship.

And, of course, there is the issue of purity, which is so difficult to protect.  After exploring the bride and groom’s understanding of sex and examining each of their expectations for sex in marriage, they get to complete a purity covenant.  In full knowledge of what they are committing to, they sign a pledge to respect, protect, and love one another in ways that glorify God and will launch their marriage with integrity.

Rating: 5 stars.  At first, this seemed like just another pre-marital exploration book with the typical questions about the reader’s understanding of family, money, and sex.  This certainly does ask those questions, but I was constantly staggered by the depth of these questions and by the opportunity to do something with the revelations that come from answering them and sharing them as a couple.  Being married for nearly six years and having to work on many of these issues from the ground up, I highly recommend getting a comprehensive head start with this book.  A bride and groom can go into marriage prepared for the issues that will seek to divide a husband and a wife.  This book certainly is not a breezy check off the to-do list, but it is a worthy endeavor that offers great reward.