Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before - and After - You Marry

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before - and After - You Marry

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by Les and Leslie Parrott, Leslie Parrott

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Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, created by relationship experts Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, is a comprehensive marriage program designed specifically for today’s couples by a couple. And now, in this updated edition, the Parrotts’ award-winning approach has been expanded to incorporate ten more years of feedback, research, and professional

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Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, created by relationship experts Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, is a comprehensive marriage program designed specifically for today’s couples by a couple. And now, in this updated edition, the Parrotts’ award-winning approach has been expanded to incorporate ten more years of feedback, research, and professional experience. This is more than a book—it’s practically a self-guided premarital counseling course, and it is used by counselors and churches across the country and, now in ten languages, worldwide. Questions at the end of every chapter help you explore each topic personally. Companion men’s and women’s workbooks* full of self-tests and exercises help you apply what you learn and enjoy intimate discussions along the way. There is even a seven-session DVD kit (with a bonus session for people entering a second marriage) available that you can use on your own or with other couples in a group or a class that want to grow together. In this dynamic DVD you’ll not only hear entertaining and insightful teaching from The Parrotts, but you’ll also meet other real-life couples who provide amazing candor and perspective. Relationship experts Les and Leslie Parrott show you the secrets to building a marriage that lasts. • Uncover the most important misbeliefs of marriage • Learn how to communicate with instant understanding • Discover the secret to reducing and resolving conflict • Master the skills of money management • Get your sex life off to a great start • Understand the three essential ingredients to lasting love • Discover the importance of becoming “soul mates” … and more. Make your marriage everything it is meant to be. Save your marriage—before (and after) it starts.

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18 Years

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Before You Begin
We never had premarital counseling, but we spent the first year of our married life in therapy. Once a week, we met with a counselor who helped us iron out the wrinkles we never even saw before getting married. Not that we were in serious trouble. But we had this naive idea that after our wedding our life would fall naturally into place, and a marriage preparation course or counseling never entered our minds. We had dated for six years before our nine-month engagement, and we had a lot in common (even our first names). We simply thought we would tie the proverbial knot, set up house, and as the fairy tales say, 'live happily ever after.'
But we didn't. The first years of marriage were difficult right from the start. Literally. In the limousine ride away from the church, as both of us waved good-bye to our family and friends through the back window, I (Leslie) began to cry.
'What's wrong?' Les asked.
I kept crying and didn't answer.
'Are you happy or sad?' Les put his arm around my shoulders and waited for a reply. When I didn't answer, he asked again, 'What's going on inside you?'
'I don't know,' I whimpered. 'I don't know.'
Les gave me a squeeze with his arm. I knew I was hurting him, but
I didn't know what to say or why I was feeling so sad.
Except for the clanging of the tin cans behind us, the ride to the airport that afternoon, June 30, 1984, was quiet. As we waited for
14 Before You Begin our flight in a smoke-filled terminal at O'Hare Airport, both of us felt hazy about what we had just been through. Were we really married?
It didn't feel like it. We were newlyweds, but we felt more like refugees.
After boarding the plane, we fell into our seats, exhausted. So much time and energy had led up to that wedding ceremony. And it had gone as planned. But now what? Both of us sat on the plane,
emotionally spent, quietly pondering the meaning of marriage. What was it all about, this marriage? Why didn't I feel any different? Who was this person I married, really?
For Better or Worse?
Let's be honest. The 'till death do us part' statement of the marriage vow rings increasingly ironic. In the 1930s, one out of seven marriages ended in divorce. In the 1960s, it was one out of four. Of the 2.4
million couples who will get married this year in the United States,
it is predicted that at least 43 percent will not survive. For too many couples,
marriage has become 'till divorce do us part.'1
Every couple marrying today is at risk. More than two-hundred thousand new marriages each year end prior to the couple's second anniversary. After they toss the bouquet and return the tuxedos,
couples often assume they're headed for marital bliss. But a study of those who recently tied the knot revealed that 49 percent reported having serious marital problems. Half were already having doubts about whether their marriages would last.2
The truth is, most engaged couples prepare more for their wedding than they do for their marriage. The $50-billion-a-year wedding industry can testify to that fact. According to experts, the average two-hundred guest wedding today costs twenty-two thousand dollars.
3 More than one million copies of bridal magazines are sold each month, focusing mainly on wedding ceremonies, honeymoons, and home furnishings --- but not on marriage itself.
Before You Begin 15
Looking back, it seems silly that Les and I did so much to prepare for our wedding and so little to prepare for our marriage. But the truth is that less than a fifth of all marriages in America are preceded by some kind of formal marriage preparation.4
One wonders what would be the effect if the same amount of time,
energy, and money spent on the ceremony was invested in the marriage. Planning the perfect wedding too often takes precedence over planning a successful marriage. And lack of planning is the ultimate saboteur of marriage.
The wedding-bell blues are common after the excitement of an elaborate wedding celebration. 'The emotional high of ordering engraved invitations, selecting music for the ceremony, and choosing a china pattern took my attention off the big picture,' a young bride told us. 'The ceremony was more tangible and less of a gamble than the marriage. I put my energy into the wedding and hoped for the best.' For too long the trend has been to fall in love, marry, and hope for the best.
This book offers a different approach.
How to Predict a Happy Marriage
Over the last three decades, marriage specialists have researched the ingredients of a happy marriage. As a result, we know more about building a successful marriage today than ever before. For example,
happily married couples will have:
* healthy expectations of marriage
* a realistic concept of love
* a positive attitude and outlook toward life
* the ability to communicate their feelings
* an understanding and acceptance of their gender differences
* the ability to make decisions and settle arguments
* a common spiritual foundation and goal
In short, the indicators of a healthy marriage form the basis of the seven questions we pose in this book.5 Every couple should be aware of these issues before (and after) they marry. Taking the time to understand these issues is like investing in an insurance policy against divorce.
Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (SYMBIS) is based on the fact that marriage doesn't have to be a gamble. As a psychologist (Les)
and a marriage and family therapist (Leslie) who counsel hundreds of married couples,
we have learned that living happily ever after is less a mystery than it is the mastery of certain skills. Although married life will always have its difficulties, mastering these life skills will steadily and dramatically improve your relationship.
Many couples wrongly blame in-laws, money, and sex for breakups and marital dissatisfaction. However, the hot points in marriage usually result from poor communication, gender issues, and lack of spiritual health, to name a few. This book cuts to the heart of every marital conflict. Whether single and dating, in a committed relationship,
contemplating marriage, or already ensconced in one, this book will help you learn the skills you'll need for a lasting and happy life together --- before unhappiness sets in.
Getting the Most from SYMBIS
We wrote the first edition of this book ten years ago, and since that time it has been used by hundreds of thousands of couples who want the very best for their marriage. That's why we've updated and expanded it with the latest and greatest information on lifelong love. In addition to shoring up any lag in research findings, we've added new material on sex as well as money. Over the years we've heard from many couples who have wanted more information and exercises on these topics. We've also added an online premarital assessment that can be found at

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Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
jwdriggs More than 1 year ago
While this book isn't ground breaking in any sort of way, what it does it does well and that's to get you talking about things before you get married. Me and my wife read this when we were engaged and having been married before there were a lot of things that I related too. It may seem silly to talk about who's going to take out the trash and who's going to do the dishes, however if you aren't both on the same page then conflict will arise due to lack of communication. Of course there is so much more to this book than that. It's a quick read and one you owe yourself and your future spouse. It's best if you both read through it.
Jeannine44 More than 1 year ago
I'm getting married October 24th 2009. My fiance and I have been going to pre-marital counseling and reading this book! Honestly, this book is so eye opening, and I feel like it's not only preparing me to keep and open mind in my marriage, but also making me aware of that fact that.... There is no perfect marriage and there is no "Happily Ever After" that a couple has not WORKED their booty's off to attain!! Marriage doesn't come easy, and it only becomes great when both parties have WORKED HARD at it! I love this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our church selected this book for pre-marriage classes. At first I thought it was simplistic because I thought that my boyfriend and I had talked about everything. Was I wrong! This book really facilitates talking about the really important things to kicking off your marriage. I would really recommend doing the workbook at the same time as the book 'it has points in the book to complete the exercises'. This really forces you to apply what you are reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. It has been so great for my fiance and I to read during our engagement. Even if you're already married, I think it would still be really helpful. There are so many things in it that seem like they would actually be common sense, but I never would have thought about it in the way they explain it and what to do in certain situations. Buy it if you are even considering marriage!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an easy read with great common sense points that most people wouldn't have given much thought before going into a marriage
Guest More than 1 year ago
In preparation of our upcoming nuptials my Finance and I read this book. It was not a dull read at all and the workbooks made comparing notes (or rather relationship expectations) fun and exciting (as opposed to creating anxiety). This book is relevant to readers at any stage of a committed relationship. It is a great guide to cooperating and living a fulfilling life as companions.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was required reading for premarital counseling at our church. Since when does being a Christian require one to dismiss all discourse on gender differences (are they innate or learned?) as having been settled 'once and for all?' (and by science, no less) as this book suggests? The advice in this book reflects that premise: In the book that was 'contextualized for my gender' I was told how to deal with my emotions when my husband forgets the anniversary of our first date while his gender-contextualized book reminds him that 'most men do not realize that women need to be respected, because men and women react very differently to not being respected.' What? It would be silly if this weren't so harmful. People read these books with eyes and ears wide open as they are preparing for marriage, in good faith that it will dole out helpful advice. Instead of talking couples through thought-provoking questions to ask of themselves and each other, couples are told to take gender stereotypes into account when communicating and interacting with their spouse. Marriages need all the help they can get. I want my marriage to be grounded in faith but I don't think I should be asked to swallow outdated and harmful gender stereotypes in order to get permission to marry. The fact that our preist based her marriage counseling on this book made us seriously second-guess our decision to marry in that church.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My fiancee and I just finished this book and had a great time while we were working on it. While we already had great communication, this book helped us think about a few things we hadn't come up with on our own and reconfirmed our thoughts and expectations about how we want to live our lives together. I highly recommend this to anyone getting married!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My fiance and I used this book and the workbooks for our pre-marital counseling. It was a down to earth look at communication, understanding ourselves better, and where do we as a couple meet in the middle. It upholds a model of biblical equality for the male/female relationship and was very refershing in its honesty. I have recommended this to other engaged couples and recommend it to you, as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend recommended that my fiance and I read this book, and it helped our relationship immensely. The authors opened our eyes to many myths about the marriage relationship, and helped my fiance and I understand one another better. The workbooks were also helpful, because we wrote our answers individually, then discussed our responses. By reading this book together, my fiance and I discovered more about each other than we had previously in our three year dating relationship. He has since read the book by himself, raving about how much it has helped him understand our upcoming roles as a Christian husband and wife. I think every engaged couple should read this book. I now feel better prepared for marriage, thanks to the insightful words of Les and Leslie Parrott.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most practical advice on marriage I have read yet! Down to earth examination of problems couples face and how to solve them. Also great b/c written by husband and wife team, so both perspectives are well represented.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
;) Alright