Read an Excerpt
About This Book
Getting married is not difficult. Millions marry every year. And each couple expects to live happily ever after as the fairy tales promise.
But getting married doesn't guarantee anything. As we all know, it takes much more than a marriage certificate or a beautiful church ceremony to make a marriage meaningful and happy. A wedding certificate is more like a learner's permit. A happy marriage is for those who are committed to traveling together-- through the barren valleys as well as over the blissful heights.
Marriage is a relationship-- a relationship in process./ And a loving, living, growing marriage is a lifelong vocation. A mature, satisfying marriage takes time, hard work, and the constant, caring cooperation of two persons committed to sharing and to caring, to loving and to listening, to giving and to forgiving, to encouraging until death parts. A successful marriage is constantly monitored, adjusted, and nourished.
Difficulties or differences will definitely show up soon after the marriage vows are said. And a couple who is ready to give up because of the struggles will never experience a happy marriage. Happy marriages are reserved for those who know the security of sticking together through drudgery and delight, for better or for worse, during the expected and the unexpected.
No precise formula exists which promises perfect married bliss. No perfect marriage partner every lived. There are happy and satisfying marriages, but they do not just happen. Happy marriages are the result of concerted effort and clear commitment. They grow out of a commitment to love, to care for another as much as one cares for oneself, to look for and expect the best, to live in the light of the Creator's vision for marriage.
Many of the ideas I discuss here grow from hundreds of husband-and-wife retreats and seminars I've led through the years. I've tried out many of these thoughts with thousands of husbands and wives, and also with many couples in premarital counseling.
Whenever we have the chance to discuss these ideas, they seem to spark great interest. Time and again I have been asked, "Why don't you put all of this in a book to help others?" Or, "Make it available for those who can't attend or afford a retreat."
Sometimes parents say, "Don't you think persons should be told these things before marriage?" Yes, I do think young people should be told, and I do find myself offering much of this whenever I have the opportunity.
I am convinced that although it may be hard for a couple to believe these ideas are true before they are married, they will be better prepared when they face the reality of wedded life if they have thought about these matters.
At the close of each section of the book are questions for couples or groups to talk about. What I find is that in such discussions, persons often rediscover hope. Many couples think that no other marriage has the same problems as theirs does. So they feel hopeless.
In groups we soon see that our problems are not unique, and we begin to see possibilities for resolving them. One evening after I finished talking about differences and the difficulties they create, I asked for questions and observations from anyone in the group. One husband, perhaps forty years old, asked with a deep sigh of relief, "Do you mean that others went through the same thing we did?" The group laughed together with him. We have all, I believe, gone through the same or similar problems to one degree or another.
Then from the group came one story after another. By the end of the evening, couples felt renewed hope because for the first time they saw that their problems weren't unique. If others could work out similar problems and experience a happy and radiant relationship, they could, too. May such an experience be yours as you read and discuss these pages.
After being married more than 40 years, I simply want to share some of the hard, as well as the wonderful, lessons Betty and I have learned and are still learning. I am committed to helping couples avoid the pitfalls and pains of a poor marriage and to experience the deep joys and satisfactions of a happy and meaningful marriage.
Betty and I tell each other continually that our love today is greater and stronger and deeper than we could ever have imagined in our early years together. Our marriage hasn't always been easy, but we believe our differences and difficulties helped to forge our deeper love as we determined to stick together through it all. I want to address these enduring elements in the hope that someone, somewhere, will be blessed with a fulfilling marriage. -- John M. Drescher