I was asked by the author to read and give an honest review of “Improve Your Marriage: Don’t Overlook the Obvious.” I was delighted to do so, and I really enjoyed reading this book.
I thought this would also be a fun way to reward you guys with a little gift for being loyal readers. So, I will be randomly selecting one lucky winner from the comments on this post and sending them my very gently used copy of Improve Your Marriage for free. If you think you’d enjoy reading this book, but you are not the lucky winner, you can buy it from Amazon using any of the links in this post.
In order to be eligible for the free book giveaway, simply leave a comment below stating your favorite “simple piece of advice” for marriage. And, if you’d like one bonus entry, please Retweet this post to your Twitter followers using the button at the bottom of the post. Just be sure to leave your comment by Friday January 29th at noon central time because that’s when I’ll draw the winner.
Now for the Book Review
Let me just say up front that Improve Your Marriage is not a “normal” book. I really don’t think most people would sit down and read it cover-to-cover like most books. Instead, I viewed it as more of a compilation of short quotes or words of wisdom. In fact, if it had a bit of a catchier cover design and a larger format, I think this would make a great coffee table book for casual browsing.
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In its current smaller paperback format, I think this book functions best as a sort of “daily devotional.” There are generally three or so short pieces of advice or thought-provoking phrases on each page. If you simply read one page worth of material each day, spent some time reflecting on it, and then applied it to your marriage and life that day, I think you could realize some real benefits. With 226 total pages, you could casually work your way through the book over the course of around eight months. At that point, you may even want to start over or just deeply reflect on one phrase at random when you need a little introspection or inspiration.
In general, you are not going to find any earth-shattering, scientific or deeply spiritual passages in Improve Your Marriage. Instead, you’ll find straightforward and simple (“obvious” to borrow the author’s word) advice and encouragement to remind you of the good things you already know.
I read nearly every phrase in the book casually over the past several weeks, and there were numerous passages that I found worthy of deeper thought. The topics center largely around communication but they delve into sex, money, parenting, romance and all of the other goodies we talk about regularly here at Engaged Marriage. Here are a few examples of the phrases provided on a given page on the book:
From pg. 100:
Sometimes a wise financial purchase is a ‘frivolous’ one.
Shake up your daily routine. Try something new. With and without them.
Stop making everything about you. Or, about them.
From pg. 195:
Rationalization can eventually become reality.
Starting an argument simply to get their attention is both foolish and harmful.
No one is always late unless they do not care about the other’s feelings, or they wish to ‘pay them back’ for something real or imagined.
I am sure you did not learn anything new by reading these six passages. However, I’m sure you can see the benefit in reflecting on them and making a conscious effort to be a little better to your spouse on a given day as a result. To me, that’s what this book is all about.
The Bottom Line
So, the bottom line question to any reviewer is, “Would you buy this book?” and I am an honest guy. My answer is “no” but my reasons should be considered. I am not a “daily devotional” type of guy, and I genuinely prefer to spend my time reading “normal” books that consists of chapters, stories and running themes. So no, Improve Your Marriage is not a book that I would personally buy if I picked it up at the bookstore.
However, if you enjoy this type of reading, I would encourage you to check it out. If you are a reader of Engaged Marriage, I think it’s safe to say that you have an interest in improving your marriage and being intentional in that effort. If you think you would benefit by reflecting on some simple thoughts each day and applying those to your own relationship, then by all means pick up a copy of Improve Your Marriage and start working your way through it. Encourage your spouse to do the same. And if you both live out the “obvious” principles presented by Mr. Irving, I think you’ll certainly be on your way to improving your own marriage.