Monday, November 8, 2010

Why Did I Marry You Anyway?

I bought this book because I saw it in my listed recommendations on amazon, was intrigued by the title, then was drawn in by the fabulous reviews of this book. However, when my husband saw the book on my nightstand he was not happy. In fact, he told me he could not stand that title and was incensed that I was reading it. So much for self-helping our marriage!

However, if you show your spouse this review and they know ahead of time that you are purchasing it, then I highly recommend Why Did I Marry You Anyway?

My Impressions

So, why did you marry your spouse? And why do you stay married to them? Or, better yet, why would anyone want to be married to you?

Barbara Bartlein bravely faces some of our long-held beliefs on who makes our best life-partner, who can really change in your marriage (yourself, btw), and what you can do with your spouse to strengthen one of the best and healthiest relationships we can have. Barbara uses several ways to get her point across including lots of personal stories, real-life situations from Barbara's clients, and helpful strategies. Along the way you can take various quizzes to see how you weigh in on the issues in your marriage.

There are some obvious subjects covered such as handling disagreements, life with children, relationships with extended family, household chores, sex and money. Some surprising chapters also address such needed subjects as choosing your spouse, trying to change your spouse to who you want them to be, blaming their parents for your spouse's behavior/feelings/disposition, mind-reading (my personal favorite), doing what you want to do verses what I want to do, restructuring our lives once we are married (can't live like swinging singles anymore), giving each other space, and issues for second marriages (I have to be honest and admit I skimmed this section).

As you can see, Bartlein tackles some issues that other marriage self-help books don't even address. She begins by simply saying that we tend to choose our mates based on some fantasy or our hormones – neither of which help us in marriage. Combine this with the fact that we all think we can marry someone and change them into who we want them to be sets us up for complete failure. Logically, this makes no sense – why marry a fantasy person and try to make them unfantastical? But we all tend toward this mindset of looking for a soul mate and them fashioning them into our own image. Personally, I want to send these chapters to a good friend of mine but I doubt they would be any happier about this book than my husband was about the book title.

I found myself trying to learn what I can do to help my marriage. I must change some really bad habits. This includes my annoying habit of expecting my husband to read my mind when it comes to holidays and other gift-giving opportunities. So what if I have to tell him specifically what I want? Wouldn't it be better to be happy on the front end than miserable and arguing? Although he did surprise me on my 40th birthday, I cannot expect that on every special occasion. I must say, he did not give me vacuum cleaner bags for our first anniversary gift (Bartlein's own story)!

Throughout the book, Bartlein's main point is that you cannot change anyone but yourself. So, she gives examples and helpful tactics to work on changing yourself to create a better marriage. Perhaps the title should really read: Why Did You Marry ME, Anyway? She does end the book by saying that married people are overall happier, healthier and live longer. And she is doing her part to help with all three!

My Faith Impressions

Bartlein actually addresses the importance of having a life of faith and worship in a married relationship. She spends one of the concluding chapters encouraging the reader couple to find a place to worship together. I found her words of building in rituals and traditions very encouraging, especially for those who feel as though their married lives have fallen into a rut.

I must say that I find the Church spending more time on pre-marital, homosexual, and unwanted pregnancy issues than the Church spends on helping married couples. If we spent more time and energy on improving married lives, we would find that we need to spend less time on those other issues. The best thing for me is to plan a married couple retreat sometime soon.

The whole issue of changing yourself as opposed to changing the other person does remind me of Jesus' comment about taking the log out of your own eye. Even us perfect Christians (lol) need to work on ourselves first before criticizing or blaming others. Working on improving our own speech and behaviors would probably do healthy wonders for our communities of faith!

I plan on using this as a resource for future retreats, counseling and sermons. I highly recommend this book. Just remember about forewarning your spouse before it arrives on your nightstand!

Happy Reading!

1 comment:

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