Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After: Preparing for a Marriage That Goes the Distance

Overview

What do you do if you want a marriage that doesn’t just survive, but thrives? That doesn’t just begin romantically but ends magnificently?
 
Answer: You do something different.
 
You’ve seen marriages fail time and again. Even relationships you thought were bulletproof don’t last–or maybe ...

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Overview

What do you do if you want a marriage that doesn’t just survive, but thrives? That doesn’t just begin romantically but ends magnificently?
 
Answer: You do something different.
 
You’ve seen marriages fail time and again. Even relationships you thought were bulletproof don’t last–or maybe worse—fade away to a cold, gray lovelessness. It’s no wonder that for today’s generation, “getting what you want” is often a substitute for love, and disillusionment about marriage is the new normal.
 
But you can have a long-term, love-blessed marriage. Whether you’re still considering it, are about to be wed, or have been married for a while and want to make changes, Love, Sex & Happily Ever After delivers an infusion of hope. Author Craig Groeschel clearly and honestly lays out the choices and commitments you can make now to change the way you think and act—to build the relationship you want for the rest of your life.
 
With an invigorating mix of personal story, practical guidance and biblical truth, Craig invites you into a candid conversation about first dates, sex, communication, integrity, forgiveness, and commitment. Along the way, he shows how you can build a soul-enriching, God-honoring relationship with the one you love…and believe together again in your very own “happily ever after.”

Previously released as Going All the Way

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Craig Groeschel’s practical book should be a mandatory read for anyone who wants to be happily married someday.  It is a rare author who can lead you into some very challenging places and have you laughing out loud while he does it.” 
Shaunti Feldhahn, nationally syndicated columnist and best-selling author of For Women Only

Going All the Way clearly illustrates how Jesus Christ is truly the center of every enduring and endearing marriage. I am excited to see this book get published.”
Pastor Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill Church, Seattle

“Whether you are married or single, Going All the Way promises to show you what it takes to succeed in the most important human relationship you can ever be a part of. This book has the potential to not only change the way you view marriage, but also the way our culture treats it.”
Ed Young, Senior Pastor, Fellowship Church, and author of The Creative Marriage

“If you're looking for ‘The One,’ this book will launch you in the right direction. With wit and wisdom, Craig Groeschel will guide you into a gold mine of relational riches.”
Shannon Ethridge, best-selling author of the Every Woman's Battle series and Completely His

“Craig shares real life advice that is practical and biblically based, preparing you for a marriage that will not just survive, but thrive. This book should make it on your reading list.”
Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life

“Craig Groeschel says it like it is. You'll be challenged and encouraged by his honesty and humor.”  
Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor, National Community Church, and author of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

“Craig Groeschel is a visionary who is always scanning the horizon to meet needs that most of us have not even begun to envision.  His leadership capacity has barely been tapped.”
Dr. Samuel R. Chand, author of Failure: The Womb of Success and Futuring: Leading Your Church Into Tomorrow

“Craig Groeschel truly goes all the way in this entertaining yet poignantly insightful book on preparing for marriage. He digs deep, posing the questions we all have but are afraid to ask, and then answers them–with profound wisdom.”
Bishop Eddie L. Long, Senior Pastor, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and author of It’s Your Time

“In Going All the Way, Craig boldly dives into our culture's many illusions of love and discovers what real love is.”
 Dave Gibbons, Lead Pastor of NewSong

“Craig Groeschel is a man that practices what he preaches. I am always excited to pick up his latest book.”
Craig Gross, founder of xxxchurch.com

“Craig fully understands our generation's struggles and fears about making love last and provides practical, hope-filled guidance for imperfect people.”
John Burke, pastor and author of No Perfect People Allowed

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601423696
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/16/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 647,880
  • Product dimensions: 7.78 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, recently ranked the nation’s second largest church. By 2010, LifeChurch.tv was hosting more than eighty services at fourteen campuses. Craig and his wife, Amy, share a passion to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. They live with their six children near Edmond, Oklahoma. 

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Read an Excerpt

Designed to Go All the Way

Is she the one? Four words that shaped my hope. My wish. My prayer.

Her name was Kelli. She was more beautiful than words could describe. Her tan was perfectly golden. Her blond hair could’ve starred in any shampoo commercial. Her smile stopped me in my tracks. And her legs… I’ll just say, praise God for legs!

Kelli was wildly popular, completely feminine, yet also athletic. Confident, yet humble. Exciting, yet pure. Every guy I knew liked her.

I loved her.

Kelli dominated my thought life. Will she go out with me? Go with me? MARRY ME? Have my children? Live with me in a house with a white picket fence? You know, for our dog. Not a chick dog, like a Shih Tzu. A real dog. Maybe a black Lab. Or a German shepherd. Named Joe…

In my daydreams I was always the hero, rescuing Kelli from attackers using my finely honed nun-chucks skills. I protected her while stranded on a desert island. I kept her warm during a dangerous blizzard. All my fantasies ended the same: Kelli fell in love with me, then kissed me until I couldn’t breathe. It was our destiny to be together. Forever. (Can you hear a Luther Vandross love song playing softly?)

Maybe my imagination was getting ahead of me. After all, she’d never spoken to me. She didn’t even know my name. And, well, we were both in seventh grade. But trifling details couldn’t weaken her magnetic pull. My life orbited around her. The mounting pressure seemed too much for my heart to bear.

Could she be “the one”?

ON THE WAY TO ONE
You’re probably not in the seventh grade (and glad you never have to return to junior high hell again). But that longing for the one is virtually universal. You’ve yearned for the one to be part of your life–your soul mate, bound by passionate affection and a forever vow.

Does a fulfilling, lifelong commitment exist in your future? You hope so, but maybe you’re not sure. When someone cute moves to your school or starts a new job at your office, you wonder, Could this be the one?

Or maybe you’re already in love with someone. At this moment all the love songs on the radio make sense. You spend hours in the Hallmark store choosing the perfect card for your honey-pie-love-bunches. (You leave with eleven cards and a stuffed walrus.) For you the question isn’t in the back of your mind; it’s front and center, and you believe you know the answer. I think there’s a one for me after all!

But perhaps you’re on the other side of the relationship divide, and you’re not so optimistic at the moment. You’re recovering from a painful breakup. Disillusioned. You were sure you’d met the one. But that was before the lying. Before the drifting apart. Before the restraining order. Before the dude like Jim Carrey’s character in The Cable Guy.

Maybe you were married. With all your heart, you believed it was forever, but it simply wasn’t true. Whether it was divorce or a breakup, you feel alone. You ache, wondering when the pain will ease, if you’ll ever love again. Were you even meant to find the one? Does wanting it to be true make it true?

I don’t blame you. I’ve felt the same way. Slightly optimistic one moment, devastatingly depressed and hopeless the next. I always hated the person with all the answers. You know, the married friend who preaches, “You just have to not care. Then you’ll find the one.” Or “If you just surrender, the perfect person will show up.”

Whatever.

You might be thinking that I’m the annoying know-it-all right now. What does some married pastor-guy know? What could I gain from reading another stupid book about preparing for marriage?

Good questions. I’ll admit, I don’t have surefire formulas for “how to find the love of your life in thirty days or less.” I won’t try to sell you on “five steps to living happily ever after.” My goal is twofold. First, I’ll offer a different perspective on a marriage that lasts a lifetime. And second, I plan to offer you…

Hope.

RESERVATIONS FOR ONE
It’s hard to be hopeful these days, to be confident you’ll find your soul mate and enjoy a long and fulfilling life together. Many twenty- and thirty-somethings today see marriage as a risky venture. They’re not cynical, just observant. They see plenty of unhappy couples, dismal divorce statistics, and heartbreak in families, often their own.

No wonder people are getting married later in life, with more reservations and less success. Many are hiding from their fears by building their careers, postponing marriage indefinitely.

Others keep searching. That’s what I did. Though I wanted to do what was right, the Bible seemed like a distant, out-oftouch rule book. You might relate. People say: “Sleep around. Focus on externals. Splurge on your toys. Don’t worry about consequences. The future’s uncertain. Live for today. Why risk missing out? Don’t let religion hold you back. You deserve to get what you want now…”

This approach to relationships has become the new normal. Problem is, the new normal doesn’t work. (Have you noticed?) In fact, it leads to a lot of needless suffering, injury, and disillusionment.

I wrote this book because people in my generation are making decisions way before marriage that actually sabotage what they really want for their futures. We don’t make these decisions in a vacuum, or because we’re the biggest losers ever to walk the planet.

We make them in large part because our culture constantly bombards us with deeply flawed ideas about what it means to be in love, to be happy, to be sexual, to have a meaningful relationship with a person of the opposite sex…and we buy the lies. Many people I meet–sadly, even many Christians–have little or no idea that a better way exists. Frankly, I’m tired of waiting for premarital counseling to lay out a biblical plan for finding lasting intimacy in marriage. By then, for many, it’s just too late. Too late to prevent a lot of hurt. Too late to prevent the death of a dream.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

ALL THE WAY, NOT PARTWAY
If God has a marriage planned for you, think about this: you have already been created to “go all the way.”

When I say “go all the way,” I’m not talking about the “I Wanna Sex You Up,” people-disposable games many settle for. I’m not talking about taking what you want sexually (or giving away sexually what someone else demands) in a relationship before marriage. Instead, I’m affirming God’s plan for a marriage that goes all the way in sexual, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment. And that goes all the way through the years and decades of your life.

Most people, Christ followers or not, deeply desire exactly this. But a closer look at how many of us pursue this goal before and after marriage shows that, while our desires are normal, our methods are routinely misguided. Turns out, how we set about to go all the way in our most important human relationship takes us only partway.

So what do you do when you want a marriage that soars in a world where most crash before takeoff? What do you do when you have a dream for intimacy, but most married couples you know are strangers to each other? What do you do when you desire a marriage that goes all the way?

I propose that you do something different.

In this book, I’m going to show you that your desire for lifelong intimacy is a God-given desire. And I’m going to help you prepare for that relationship. But we’re not going to travel the typical path. Ours will be delightfully different. Oddly godly. I won’t try to fool you–a good marriage is never easy. But it is absolutely possible.

If you haven’t traveled the sinful road, laced with land mines, I hope to help you stay off that path. And if you’ve already taken some hits, we’ll be able to relate and then begin to identify a God-blessed way forward. Together we’ll plan for your relational success, examining how to conduct your relationships in a positive, fulfilling way. I’ll offer ideas about what to do and what not to do. You’ll learn to prepare for a marriage that goes all the way to God’s best. A marriage that doesn’t just survive, but thrives.

Let me warn you: this book may require a radical shift in your thinking. If small changes would do the trick, everyone would be making them. Minor adjustments produce marginal results. Most of us need to overhaul our thought processes. To experience the kind of relationships we long for, we must, with God’s help, prepare to be genuinely different.

We have to redefine and choose to aim for a new kind of “normal.” Because the current one doesn’t deliver. Of course, not everyone wants to get married. And not every one who wants to marry will marry. I also know that some people do nearly everything wrong yet end up in wonderful marriages. And that some others do everything possible to find their spouses while honoring biblical guidelines and still end up in miserable relationships.

Hey, it’s a crazy world. What can I say?

So I can’t make guarantees. But I will present some powerful, time-tested principles based on God’s Word. His Word is true and constant, like the law of gravity is true and constant. We ignore either at our own risk. Consider what the law of gravity suggests about how to get off your roof: you may not break a leg (or worse) every time you choose to jump, but the law of gravity definitely argues for using a ladder. Similarly, my starting point for Going All the Way is the Bible. Because we have been created by a loving, intentional God, we’re wise to consider the relational laws He has put in place. When we don’t follow the path He lays out in Scripture, we’re inviting injury to ourselves and others. But thankfully, the opposite is also true: when we do follow the path of truth, we’re far more likely to discover and enjoy the marriage we hope for and that God desires for us.

GOOD-BYE, KELLI
In case you’re wondering, my seventh-grade dream girl, Kelli, wasn’t the one. (I told myself it was her loss.) After a bunch of wasted years, several misfires, some relational train wrecks, and a couple of broken hearts, I was ready to write off all hope for a great marriage. No one is faithful, I thought. Almost all marriages I know stink. Why bother?

Then I met a girl named Amy, and God blessed our friendship. It took time for my battered heart to fully trust her–or even trust myself. But with God’s help and encouragement from friends, Amy and I grew together. We didn’t “go all the way” by the world’s definition. We wanted something more. We wanted to go all the way in truth and love. We wanted God’s normal.

Seventeen years and six children later, I’m honored to tell you that you can have hope for a great marriage. (Yes, you read that right. We have six kids. What can I say? Amy can’t keep her hands off me. What? You don’t buy that?)

No matter what you’ve seen, how badly you’ve been hurt, or how afraid you are, with God, a lasting and intimate marriage is possible. Even in a world where happy marriages are often considered just another fairy tale, it can be real for you. If you want something few have–genuine closeness, trust, respect, and lasting commitment–you’ll have to do what few do.

Go all the way, God’s way.

In the pages ahead, we’ll find out what that really means.

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Table of Contents

1 Designed to Go the Distance 1

2 Finding the One 10

3 Finding Your Two 26

4 The Friendship Foundation 38

5 Sexual Mythology 53

6 The Problem with Playing House 69

7 How to Hit the "Breaks" 84

8 Your Story Starts Again 97

9 Room for the Big Rocks 113

10 Passion and Pursuit 126

11 Pure Intimacy: The Naked Truth About Getting Closer 136

12 Thinking Differently About Husbands 152

13 Thinking Differently About Wives 169

14 Habits of the Heart 186

15 A Covenant for Life 205

Study Guide 211

Acknowledgments 229

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After

    If you've been checking out my book reviewing blog, you'll see I recently reviewed a great memoir about a possessed man who became a Christian ("Ascent from Darkness"). Anyway, as I began to read this book, I thought to myself--man, this guy's name and church sound really familiar. I later remembered that this author was the same pastor that the possessed man was sent to kill. Talk about coincidences. Wowza. Anyway, I was a bit skeptical about this book as many relationship books written by Christians tend to be great or terrible. This one falls in the great category. What I love is that the author emphasizes building your relationship with Jesus (the One) before you can even be ready for a mate (the Two). Bible is quoted from various parts of the Bible. I'm not just talking about some NT stuff that every seasoned Christian can quote. I mean meaningful verses that the average person would not know and even OT verses; I liked this. Also, the writing style is informative and straightforward while still being culturally relevant--which I found very funny at certain parts with quips. There is even a little discussion guide at the end. I did not go through all of it, but I can say that I think it would be great for couples reading this book together or even Christian book clubs, friends, or groups studying this book together. This book made me rethink the male and female roles that society has screwed up so much. I am an athletic "against-the-grain" gal who used to hate the word submission. Now, I don't think it is so bad. You may not know me personally, but let me tell you that--coming from me--that means a lot. Craig...kudos.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012

    I've just completed the book "Love, Sex, and Happily Ever A

    I've just completed the book "Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After" by Craig Groeschel.

    When he wrote this book he specifically targeted those who are single, engaged or recently divorced. And he successfully crafts a message for those people regarding the ins and outs of relationships.

    But what does it hold for those already married?

    His explanation of how relationships formed before your closeness to God can effect you for the duration of your marriage is unsettling. It provides sage nuggets of wisdom for those whose relationships have stagneated.

    The advice he gives to Christians seeking a relationship can apply to people whose marriages began before their walk with Christ was strong.

    He explains the crippling actions of our past and how they can debilitate our present and if not treated our future.

    "...our culture constantly bombards us with deeply flawed ideas about what it means to be in love, to be happy, to have a meaningful relationship with a person of the opposite sex...and we buy the lies."

    We've often viewed our soul mate as the person that completes us. They are the other half of the equation that makes us a whole number. But if we seek completion from another human being we will never be completed.

    We must adjust our thinking.

    We must make Christ our first priority. Only he can complete us. And once he has, then and only then will we be able to be ready to fulfill our relati0nships. Our soul mate only completes the other half of the equation that equals US.

    This book can be a valuable tool for any pastor that struggled with knowing how to counsel couples on their path to marriage. C. Groeschel's insight into theses situations can be invaluable to the new pastor.

    [I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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