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Full Title: Marriage in the Making: Devotions for Living Happily Ever After
Author(s): Richard Exley

From jacket flap: "Richard Exley is a man with a rich diversity of ministerial experience - pastor, author, radio host, conference and retreat speaker, and pro-life apologist. After serving churches in Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma for the past twenty-six years, he now devotes his full time to writing and speaking. Richard Exley is the author of nine other books [...]"
Publishing / Edition: Honor Books, 1994
Purchase; Read: Borrow the eBook from Internet Archive.

Content Review

I remember quite vividly the moment I saw the spine of this book as it sat on a bookshelf within a thrift shop several years ago. I'm not sure why, but I felt intuitively as if I should read it.

I think I only paid around a $1.50 for it, maybe even less with the discount. The cover feels very early 90's...1994 specifically, according to the copyright page. A title written in cursive letters that are a metallic fuchsia with a yellow drop shadow might have something to do with that.

As for the content...

The book assumes two things:

1. That one is (newly) married, as it deals almost exclusively with "married life" (e.g.: living together, parenting, etc.)

2. That one is a Christian who follows traditional (somewhat stereotyped) gender and family roles

It is written predominantly from a male perspective (i.e.: the husband), although there are some parts that are directed specificly towards the wife. Whatever one's sex or role, I would suggest reading both of the "his" and "hers" sections to get a more balanced view.

Each chapter follows the same scheme:

• An anecdote from the author's personal life or about the couples that he has helped counsel in his work as a minister

• A list of "action steps" or activities that one can do to better understand the topic under discussion

• A "thought for the day" that is usually an interesting quote from another relationship book

• A "scripture for the day" that is a relevant passage out of the bible

• A prayer that encapsulates some of the main points

The book is divided into ten sections with about five chapters per section. Chapters are pretty short (~2-3 pages on average). This seems purposeful, for example, to make it easier to fit a chapter in at the end of a busy day.

They can be read in order or stand-alone. While they generally build upon one another, only a couple of them make brief reference to earlier chapters. Therefore, one could jump directly to the subjects that interest them without any confusion. The subjects are pretty standard for a book on marriage (e.g.: communication, sex, finances, infidelity, etc.).

The first chapter surprised me when I started to read it. To be honest, it seemed a bit ungrateful how the author described his disappointment with the breakfast that his wife had made him the morning after they had gotten married. Then, as I continued reading, I realized that the story was intended to demonstrate that our partner is not one of our parents, a duplicate of ourselves, or flawlessly compatible with us. Even when one is careful and takes plenty of time to get to know another person thoroughly, little differences can start to pop up after getting married.

Much of the book is like this. If one doesn't personally identify with his stories, there are still a few helpful ideas to glean if one is willing to read it with an open mind. One part that I found interesting is how he outlines the progression that an affair often takes:

It begins with indifference to one's partner (in the sense of becoming disconnected from each other's feelings), which leads to trying to fulfill basic emotional needs through another. The sharing of confidences (like what is going "wrong" within the marriage) is usually done in private and sometimes leads to physical consolation in response. Such conditions sometimes lead a person into sleeping with someone else. As the author points out (on pg. 234), the situation... seldom sudden. Rather, it is a culmination of a series of small temptations. Therefore, it is critically important that we establish appropriate boundaries before temptation whispers its beguiling suggestions. And no boundary is more important than a mutual pledge to emotional fidelity.
While it does give recommendations on how to try to repair a marriage after cheating, it does not cover the more serious issues that might have lead to it in the first place (e.g.: abuse). [...Precious few books on marriage seem to though, Christian or otherwise.]

All in all, it is a pleasant book. I found the ending endearing as well.

Related Resources

Richard Exley Ministries
This is the author's personal website. I don't think he sells the above book anymore.