"Friends, Partners, and Lovers"

"Great marriages don't just happen—they're made, intentionally, day by day. Yet most of us enter the covenant of marriage thinking that the role of spouse will be easy, natural, effortless. Rarely is this true. In fact, the number one cause of divorce isn't adultery or finances or disagreements. It's apathy—a lack of intentional emotional, physical, and mental investment in the relationship." (back cover)

"Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work" is a new book by Kevin A. Thompson, a husband of almost twenty years and father, pastor, and marriage counselor and speaker, which would be relevant and beneficial not only for struggling or apathetic couples needing to rebuild and rekindle their marriage, but also for engaged or newlywed couples wanting to develop a strong, healthy marriage from the start (and any couples in between!).

Through "engaging stories and clear, simple language", Thompson emphasizes the significance of investing in your marriage and expounds on what he posits are the three distinct, yet equally important spousal roles of friend, partner, and lover. In my experience, these roles are realistic, and the content for each is insightful (frequent parallel structure errors notwithstanding). While I didn't get as much out of the stories Thompson incorporates as examples throughout the book (granted they do add a more personal feel), I did appreciate the practical, down-to-earth suggestions and advice, as well as the thoughtful, "real life" definitions and descriptions of various concepts, traits, etc. (e.g., "If I respect my spouse, I will: want to know her, want to be known by her, [...] not caricature her [e.g., "all women are emotional"]"). In general, there is good insight that I found thought-provoking and applicable, from the importance of spouses being best friends and sharing positive moments together on a regular basis to the distinction between hard and harsh words (i.e., "I forgive you" or "I disagree" versus "You always..." or "You think...") in conflict. In addition, there are "Be Intentional" questions at the end of each chapter to help couples think through and apply the material to their own lives. On another, final note, I appreciated that while this book is sound and written from a Christian worldview, it is not overtly "Christian"; to me this was refreshing because the content is based on Biblical principles without sounding preachy or using God, the Bible, or prayer as a crutch or cop-out.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that "Friends, Partners, and Lovers" is above average for a marriage book (comparatively with others I've read). Kevin A. Thompson offers wise counsel that is both challenging and encouraging regardless the stage of life or love couples are in.

Disclaimer: This book was received for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.

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