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Robert and Bobbie and Mark and Susan know that there’s a big difference between preparation and actual experience. This is your guide to actually dealing ...
Robert and Bobbie and Mark and Susan know that there’s a big difference between preparation and actual experience. This is your guide to actually dealing with all the things that come after “I do.” In this unique flip-over format, the chapter topics are the same but one half is written by men for the husband, and the other half is written from a women’s perspective for the wife. As a couple, you’ll each progress through your part of the book and meet somewhere in the middle.
Become an expert on what really makes your spouse happy, and enjoy the benefits of a great partnership. Take an honest look at the family you grew up in: its unwritten codes, how it has shaped you, and the ways it affects your relationship with your mate. Learn how to speak each other’s “language” and appreciate the qualities each of you brings to your marriage.
You’ll also get an eye-opening look at communication skills, secrets for a great sex life, budget basics, dealing with in-laws, navigating tough times, and much more. Above all, you’ll cultivate a spiritual unity that draws the two of you closer to each other as you draw closer to God.
Start reading, and make this first year together what it was meant to be: the most important year in your life.
If trying hard was the key to a healthy marriage, most couples
would find themselves in the Healthy Marriage Hall of Fame.
Jeff Van Vonderen, Families Where Grace Is in Place
* * *
The coach had seen enough. He called for a time-out and motioned his quarterback over to the sidelines. Something horrible was going on out there, and the quarterback needed to hear what the coach had to say. To ignore the issue would have spelled certain defeat, and this game was too precious to squander.
We've all seen these sideline conversations on television. Some quarter-backs are focused and listening carefully; some nervously glance back and forth while their coach gives instructions. Others almost seem cavalier, shrugging their shoulders. And when this happens, we see the coach's face become more intense, as if to say, "You listen to me, Buster! This whole game depends on it." We've even seen coaches grab their field commanders by the shoulders to make certain they don't miss anything.
How many weddings have you been to? A dozen? More?
And have you ever watched the groom's face? Does he remind you of the quarterback? Is he glancing left and right, even acting as though it's just another day? Or is he focused, listening to every word being said, as though his future depended on it?
Naturally, most grooms have a subtle first-night twinkle in their eye. That's to be expected. But what they may not know is that this night is the first night in the most important year of their lives.
If they fail to pay careful attention to what goes on over the next twelve months, the cost may be a lifetime of frustration and nonstop misery. But if they learn to do the right things and establish the right habits, the rewards will be measurable-and fantastic!
The goal of this book is, first of all, to get your focused attention. Then I'm going to do my best to convince you that the first year of your marriage is, in fact, the most important year in your life.
Making the Early Investment
Jerry set down his newspaper, swiveled his chair toward the window, and leaned back. "I'm a millionaire," he whispered. "A millionaire!" He closed his eyes and let it sink in.
Ten years earlier, one of Jerry's closest friends from graduate school had come with a proposal. Over breakfast, Clark Boyer had told Jerry about his idea for starting a house-call computer service business. "We're going to name it CompuCalls," Clark told him. "Today the computer business is where the automobile business was forty years ago-lots of hardware out there but not a lot of convenient, reliable service."
Jerry knew that Clark was above average in the intelligence department. But, even more important, Clark wasn't afraid of hard work. And CompuCalls was a solid idea.
"I need ten thousand dollars," Clark announced, just as breakfast arrived.
Jerry sat for a moment, staring at his bacon and eggs. Ten thousand dollars was a lot of money. He and Dianna had just bought their first home, and he still had a few payments left on his car loan. But Clark was his friend, and Jerry had this sense about the proposal. He wasn't a gambler by nature, but Jerry had confidence in Clark.
"As far as I'm concerned, you're on," Jerry said evenly. "Dianna knows you and trusts you. I'll check with her before I give you my final word, but I think she'll be on board, too," he added, a faint smile forming on his face. "I know you're going to make it work."
Over the next ten years Jerry watched Clark pour himself into his work. CompuCalls hired bright young graduates from their town's community college, and the company grew and thrived. Seven years into the business, Clark was given the "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" award, and several large computer sales companies had begun contacting him about a buyout. Clark kept Jerry informed about the offers.
Three years later, Jerry held the newspaper and read the headlines in the business section that made it official: "Boyer sells CompuCalls for Twelve Million."
Jerry's ten thousand dollars had bought him 15 percent of Clark's company, and now, after a decade, the investment was worth well over a million dollars.
Now here's an interesting question: What are the chances that the company that just bought CompuCalls will realize the same return on their investment that Jerry made?
Slim and none.
Why? One word: timing.
Jerry's investment came early in Clark's business plan. Ten years later the dividend opportunities just aren't the same. Ten years earlier, 15 percent of CompuCalls cost Jerry ten thousand dollars. Today it's costing someone $1.8 million, almost 200 times Jerry's investment. The new company will never get those multiples again.
Invest in the First Year
This is a book about the first year of marriage-the first year of your marriage. Let's pretend that you and I are having breakfast together, and just before you take your first bite of scrambled eggs I tell you about a great investment opportunity. "You've just gotten married. That's great. And if you do the right things now, I can guarantee a great return on your investment."
I've got your undivided attention.
"But if you decide not to make the investment," I add as a post-script, "your chances for a strong and satisfying marriage are going to be greatly reduced. And if your marriage fails, the consequences are going to be tragic-and expensive."
Then, as with any legitimate investment prospectus, I present you with a few convincing endorsements:
1. People with satisfying marriages live longer, enjoy better
health, and report a much higher level of satisfaction
about life in general.
2. Married men report a deeper satisfaction about life in
general than do single men. Forty percent of married
couples say they are very happy, compared to 18 percent
of those divorced and 22 percent of those never
married or of unmarried couples living together.
3. Despite the myths about the single life, married men
enjoy much more frequent sex (almost twice as often)
than single men.
4. Even if you are a bottom-line kind of guy who likes to
think in dollars and cents, check this out: Recent statistics
show that the average married couple in their fifties
has a net worth nearly five times that of the average
divorced or single person.
5. Divorce dramatically increases the likelihood of early
death from strokes, hypertension, respiratory cancer,
and intestinal cancer. Astonishingly, being a divorced
nonsmoker is only slightly less dangerous than smoking
a pack (or more) of cigarettes a day and staying married!
(Should divorce summons papers come with the
surgeon general's warning, too?)
Research guarantees it: A satisfying marriage can bring you more happiness, more money, less sickness, and better sex. I think we've just redefined a no-brainer.
Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later
It's often assumed that marriages fail because of a lack of investment-time, effort, focus, and intentionality. That's true, but only partially.
Mark and I have talked with countless couples whose marriages are flailing-or failing. Many are more than willing to work at it, and work sacrificially. As a matter of fact, some of the guys we know who struggle in their marriages are investing exponentially more energy, anxiety, and money trying to keep their marriages alive than couples with healthy marriages will have to invest during their entire lifetimes.
The question must be asked: If these couples are working so hard, why are their marriages failing?
It's exactly what Jerry found out with his successful investment in CompuCalls. It's all about good timing. Failed marriages are not the result of the lack of investment but the lateness of that investment.
We've seen it happen over and over. Men have come to us for help only after their marriages are in deep trouble-in some cases, headed perilously toward divorce. A man may become motivated to work on his marriage when it's in critical condition. The work and the sacrifices he makes may be nothing short of heroic. But tragically, they come awfully late.
A Desperate Situation
He called to say that he had to talk-immediately! "Becky has left me. She won't even talk to me. What am I going to do?"
Bill was desperate. He knew he was about to lose the very thing that mattered to him the most-his family. Over coffee, Bill admitted that he had failed. Through tears he confessed that he had neglected his wife. And now she had moved out.
"I'll do anything," Bill vowed, his jaw set with determination. "I'll do anything to get her back."
Over the next months, Bill began the long, slow climb to rebuild Becky's trust. She was understandably skeptical. The emotional scars were too deep for a quick fix. Bill was beginning to realize that, after taking fifteen years to carelessly dismantle his marriage, it was unlikely that it could be rebuilt in a matter of months.
Can Bill's marriage be saved? Absolutely, particularly if he's willing to do the costly work he promised to do-work he should have done fifteen years before. But this kind of rebuilding can be exhausting. The challenge is often so demanding, so humbling, and so uncomfortable-and the progress so slow-that many men simply give up.
When Mark and I first talked about writing this book, we brought to mind guys like Bill. There have been times when it felt as though we were trying to stop a man in the middle of a free fall from a high cliff. It's been painful for us, but our discomfort has no comparison to the agony of these men.
I've never met a man who said, "I am choosing to invest poorly"-financially or in marriage. But many men simply do. Their minimal net worth has been the result of neglect. Sheer default.
Making careless investments comes easily; it takes intentional planning to invest wisely.
How Does This Happen?
Given the value of a great marriage, it doesn't make sense that men would scorn making a sound investment early on. However, so many make this mistake. I want to suggest two theories about why this happens:
The Conquest Phenomenon
Some men act as though their work is done the moment their bride says "I do." It's almost as though, on their wedding day, they take their to-do list and put a check mark next to "find a wife." Then, after the honeymoon, it's back to work-and back to that to-do list-with many more battles to win and more check marks to make.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this phenomenon in men is that, at the same moment they're feeling a sense of finality about their wedding-day accomplishment, their brides are seeing it as just the beginning.
Choosing Not to Choose
This book is based on a single foundational assumption: Your marriage and your life are going to be a hundred times more satisfying, more resilient, and more prosperous if you intentionally develop the right habits in the first year-when the investment is fairly "inexpensive."
If you undervalue this first year and develop bad habits, a solid marriage will be much more expensive to recover later on-or these habits may eventually destroy your marriage.
As you and I begin to explore this first-year investment strategy, I want to unveil a treasure that is thousands of years old. Listen to this amazing piece of advice, tucked in the Old Testament between instructions on divorce and directions for the proper use of millstones when making a loan agreement (no kidding):
If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.
Although the prospects of such a thing may sound hilarious or outrageous to you, there are some interesting investment principles buried here that you'll want to take seriously.
The Challenge Principle-"For one year"
Most guys love a contest. We gravitate toward the competitive. Well, here's a huge challenge: If you want to have a great marriage, don't do anything for a whole year except learn to love your wife.
I'm pretty sure I know what you're thinking. C'mon, be reasonable. I've got work to do. If I were to take a whole year off, I'd be fired from my job-and that wouldn't be good for either of us.
Don't worry. I'm not advocating unemployment. Just intentionality. Your job in your first year of marriage is to become an expert on one woman-your wife-and to learn, better than anyone else in the world, how to "bring her happiness." And the Old Testament advice is to take one year, ONE WHOLE YEAR. A weekend seminar or a great book about marriage will not be enough-not even the standard five-session premarital counseling commitment. There's no other way to say it: It's a big investment!
The ADD Principle-"not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him"
Like folks who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), our problem often is our lack of focus. We're distracted by things our wives don't see-things they may not even care about.
Because you've checked "get married" off your list, you may be tempted to pay more attention to other unfinished things, such as going on to graduate school, landing a good job, or staying in shape physically. But now that you're married, your most important assignment is working on building this relationship with your wife.
The Reciprocity Principle-"bring happiness to the wife he has married"
Chalk it off to our humanness, but most of us have this backwards. We're eager for our wives to find ways to make us happy.
My friend Gary Smalley tells the story of the newlywed couple who moved into the house across the street from Hank and Edna. Soon Edna noticed that when the young groom came home from work each day, instead of pulling into the garage, he parked his car in the drive-way and walked down the sidewalk to the front door.
She also noticed that he always had something in his hand-a wrapped gift, a bunch of flowers, or some other special item. He'd ring the doorbell, his wife would answer the door, he'd present the gift, and they'd embrace.
Edna couldn't help herself. One evening after dinner she told Hank all about the couple and what the young husband did each day.
"Why don't you start doing that, Hank?" she whined.
"Well," Hank stammered, "I guess I could." He took a deep breath.
Excerpted from The Most Important Year in a Woman's Life, / The Most Important Year in a Man's Life by Robert Wolgemuth and Mark DeVries Copyright © 2003 by Zondervan
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted December 6, 2011
I've read a lot of marriage and relationship oriented books in preparation for a great marriage and this book sure adds a whole new dimension to the rest of them. I haven't come across material that lays out the potential and very likely pitfalls in the first year of marriage so clearly. The best part is while the authors are quite frank about what kind of problems to expect, they also give great solutions to avoiding and mitigating these issues- harnessing troubles to create a fantastic marriage! I of course, haven't been able to apply the advice yet, but have a recently married friend who can vouch for it. I would highly recommend this book as workbook before or during pre-marriage counseling or in any stage of marriage. Very enlightening!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 14, 2010
Posted December 9, 2007
When my husband I were getting married, the pastor gave us this book as a gift. We both took the time to read it. It was very helpful and an amazing book. I would highly recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 31, 2005
This book is great! It's practical, and faith-centered without being corny like many other books of similar goals. They address the issues that newlywed christian couples face in their marriages (and issues that couples at all stages face) and give solid advice on what to do to prevent these issues from causing long-term problems in your relationship without the wishy-washy stuff that elicits a lot of feeling but does very little to actually help and/or prepare you for the hard realities of life. I would recommend this book to any engaged or married coupleWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 16, 2013
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