Despite the completely uninspiring, flashback-to-1950’s cover (which has now been redesigned for release in April), this was a seriously incredible and highly valuable book. Paul Tripp offers really wise, humble, godly, and gospel-centered advice for marriages… that is also intensely practical.
Most often I have found that marriage books to be either one or the other: very Biblically based, with 15 Scriptures on every page but lacking practical, take-home advice in a big way or not so philosophical but all practical, wreaking of pop-psychology and failing to appeal to God’s love and the Story of Redemption as it applies to our lives and relationships. Not so with this book.
For example, at one point in the book he says (I’m paraphrasing), “You don’t have a communication problem, you have a self-love problem.” He goes on to say (I’m not paraphrasing here), “It is self-love that makes you more committed to what you understand than to understanding your spouse. It is self-love that cause you not to listen well. It is self-love that makes you unwilling to wait until you are sure that you have understood your spouse. It is self-love that keeps you from viewing your spouse’s words, perspectives, desires, and opinions as valuable. It is self-love that fills your brain so full of what you think and know that you have little room for your spouse’s thoughts. It is self-love that makes you value your own way more than you value real functional understanding between you and your mate.”
See what I mean? Gospel-centered: showing that our problem is that we don’t trust in the Cross of Christ for our marriages; instead we are trusting in ourselves and loving ourselves. Jesus tells us to take up our cross, but instead we take up a sword because we’re ready to fight. And Practical: The Gospel is not some etherial thing that isn’t applicable to daily life in your marriage (though, neither does it offer Encyclopedic-type help). And it isn’t something that was just for when you became a believer; it isn’t just for getting saved, it is for living saved. So the Gospel there in a highly practical way for every day, every fight, every miscommunication, every lack of trust, every grumpy word, every personality difference and every disappointment in your marriage.
I haven’t read stacks of marriage books. But I have read a few (although, I have not yet read Mark and Grace Driscoll’s “Real Marriage” or Tim and Kathy Keller’s “Meaning of Marriage” that are on my 2012 Book List). Hands-down, I would recommend reading this one above all the others that I have read to date. If you are married, getting married, or know someone who is married, this book should have a place on your shelf (after having a place in your hands and heart). I WILL be reading it again, as it is so rich and useful for my own marriage and also for other relationships in which I need love, self-denial, communication, etc… Paul Tripp and God’s Word are presented in such a way as to humbly bring me back to the Cross.
It deserves an A+++++, truly.