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

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

by Les and Leslie Parrott


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You can do more than hope.

Safeguard your relationship and build a love that not only goes the distance but fulfills your deepest dreams.

More than a million couples have used the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (SYMBIS for short) to prepare for life-long love.

The Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Workbook for Men will help you uncover and understand the unique shaping factors you bring into your marriage as a man. Prepare for some surprising and helpful insights, for honest, intimate, and enjoyable relationship-strengthening conversations with you and your fiancée, and for engaging discussions with a small group.

EXERCISES: 24 Self-Tests to Put the Book into Action

Twenty-four assessments will shed amazing new light on the way you are put together, how that affects specific aspects of how you and your loved one relate, and how you can improve those areas to build a better relationship. You will gain unprecedented insights into topics such as:

  • your personal “Ten Commandments”
  • making your roles conscious
  • exploring unfinished business
  • assessing your self-image
  • getting your sex life off to a great start
  • cultivating intimacy
  • listening to your self-talk
  • avoiding the blame game
  • how well do you communicate?
  • your top ten needs
  • mind reading
  • how to listen
  • identifying your “hot topics”
  • money talks
  • your spiritual journey

DISCUSSION GUIDE SESSIONS: 7 Questions to Ask Before—and After—You Marry

Les and Leslie will help you enjoy lively and eye-opening interaction with each other and with a small group through seven sessions on the DVD (sold separately). The discussion guide, included in this workbook, guides you through an opening exercise, note-taking as you watch the video, linking to the workbook exercises, and group discussion, concluding with an exercise each couple can do together over the next week.

Designed for use with Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Workbook for Women Updated (9780310875475) and Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Updated Video Study (9780310875734), both sold separately.

The SYMBIS Assessment ® shows two people how their personalities mesh in marriage. For information about completing the SYMBIS Assessment, which is recommended for both partners prior to beginning the SYMBIS course, visit

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310875420
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 10/27/2015
Edition description: Enlarged
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 107,116
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

#1 New York Times bestselling authors Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are psychologists and founders of the game-changing online assessments:, Better, and Their best-selling books include Love Talk, The Good Fight, Crazy Good Sex, and the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. Their work has been featured in the New York Times and USA Today and on CNN, Good Morning America, the Today Show, The View, and Oprah. Les And

Read an Excerpt

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Workbook for Men

By Les Parrott, Leslie Parrott


Copyright © 2015 Les and Leslie Parrott
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-87542-0


Exercise One


This exercise is designed to help you uncover some of your unspoken rules. It will take about fifteen to twenty minutes.

Try to articulate some of the unspoken rules you grew up with. Take your time to think it over. These unspoken rules are generally so ingrained that we are rarely aware of them. If you're not married yet, by the way, you may have discovered some of your "rules" with a previous roommate.

We've provided you with sections to stimulate your thinking. The best way to come up with your own commandments is to think of what "unspoken rules" you grew up with in your family.


Example: "Credit cards are to be used only in an emergency."

1. __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________

2. __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________


Example: "Dinner should be served at the same time every night."

3. ____________________________________________________________


4. ____________________________________________________________



Example: "The towels from the laundry should be folded in thirds (not in half)."

5. _____________________________________________________________


6. _____________________________________________________________



Example: "You should open presents on Christmas Eve (not Christmas morning)."

7. _____________________________________________________________


8. _____________________________________________________________



Example: "Never put a bottle of ketchup on the table (put it in a dish)."

9. ______________________________________________________________


10. _____________________________________________________________


Once both of you have written your "personal ten commandments," share them with each other.

As a man, think about how your dad modeled certain behaviors in each of these areas and consider how this may shape your expectations as a husband.

What surprises you about your partner's rules and why? Do some of her rules cause you to immediately push back?

Are there any specific rules you would like to change (on your side or hers)?

The more you talk about your unspoken rules, the less likely they are to affect your marriage in a negative way.

In addition, here's a helpful tip. Any time you have a fight or disagreement, ask yourself, "Is this fight a result of one of us breaking an unspoken rule?" If so, add that rule to your list and discuss how you will handle that situation in the future.


Exercise Two


If you have taken the SYMBIS Assessment (, this particular exercise will look familiar. The SYMBIS Assessment Report presents the content in a far more personalized format. If you're not using the SYMBIS Assessment, you will still benefit greatly from this workbook version of the exercise.

Following is a list of chores or life tasks that will need to be handled by you or your fiancée (wife). To make your unconscious understanding of roles conscious, first indicate how your parents handled these tasks. If they shared the task, then check both boxes. Then write down how you would like to divide the tasks, according to your understanding of your own and your partner's interests, time, and abilities. If you expect to share the task, check both boxes. Finally, compare your list with your partner's list and discuss the results. Put your joint decision of who will do what in the last column, and be prepared to renegotiate when your circumstances change. This exercise will take about twenty to thirty minutes.

Once you have both filled out this list, compare notes and answer these three questions together:

1. What role behaviors do you tend to agree upon?

2. What role behaviors do you tend to see quite differently?

3. How are you going to adjust your expectations on the role behaviors where you are currently not in sync?


Exercise Three


This exercise is designed to help you relinquish unrealistic ideals you might hold about your partner and to discover her true character. It will take about twenty to thirty minutes.

Begin by rating on a 1 to 7 scale (1 being lowest and 7 being highest) how much the following traits describe you and your partner. Complete the first two columns ("Your Rating of You" and then "Your Rating of Your Wife"). Don't worry about the other two columns just yet.

Once you have rated the first two columns, share your rating with each other and write them on your own page. Then subtract your partner's actual rating of herself from your rating of her. Note any significant differences and discuss them.

Our three biggest differences in this exercise are:

1. __________________________________________________________


2. _________________________________________________________________


3. _________________________________________________________________


One of the central tasks of the early marriage years is to move from "idealizing" your wife to "realizing" your wife. How accurate is your image of who your wife is compared to who she really is? The more accurately you can present yourselves to each other, the easier your first years of marriage will be.


Exercise Four


Marriage is not a quick fix for avoiding your own personal problems. In fact, marriage may even intensify those problems. This exercise is designed to help you honestly face the psychological and spiritual work you need to do as a person so that you do not look to your wife to fulfill needs that she cannot. It will take about twenty to thirty minutes.

Everyone has yearnings that were seldom, if ever, fulfilled in their relationship with their parents. Take a moment to reflect, and then write down some of the needs and desires you felt that were never really fulfilled by your parents. We've provided you with a few headings to stimulate your thinking, but don't let that limit you to just these categories.


Example: "My parents never really encouraged my dreams or goals."





Example: "My parents never really celebrated my successes."





Example: "My parents never really understood me for who I am."





Example: "My parents often thought I wasn't serious enough and wanted me to be more 'goal oriented.'"





Example: "I've never had anyone in my life who appreciates my creativity."




When we marry, we long to recreate the love, closeness, and nurturance that we experienced or wished we had experienced in our relationship with our parents. But marriage is not always the place for those yearnings to be fulfilled. No human can meet another person's every need; deep relational longings are ultimately met only in a relationship with God.

If you are willing, share your writing with your partner and discuss the baggage you are both bringing into your marriage — and how your expectations of her as your wife might be shaped by your "unfinished business."


Exercise Five


This exercise is designed to help you measure your self-image and construct an interdependent relationship with your wife. It will take about twenty to thirty minutes.

"You cannot love another person unless you love yourself." Most of us have heard that statement so often we tend to dismiss it as just another catchphrase in the lexicon of pop psychology. But a solid sense of self-esteem is a vital element in building the capacity to love.

The following self-test can give you a quick evaluation of your self-esteem. Answer each with "yes," "usually," "seldom," or "no."

1. Do you believe strongly in certain values and principles, enough that you are willing to defend them?

Usually Seldom

2. Do you act on your own best judgment, without regretting your actions if others disapprove?

Usually Seldom

3. Do you avoid worrying about what is coming tomorrow or fussing over yesterday's or today's mistakes?

Usually Seldom

4. Do you have confidence in your general ability to deal with problems, even in the face of failures and setbacks?

Usually Seldom

5. Do you feel generally equal — neither inferior nor superior — to others?

Usually Seldom

6. Do you take it more or less for granted that other people are interested in you and value you?

Usually Seldom

7. Do you accept praise without pretense or false modesty, and accept compliments without feeling guilty?

Usually Seldom

8. Do you resist the efforts of others to dominate you, especially your peers?

Usually Seldom

9. Do you accept the idea — and admit to others — that you are capable of feeling a wide range of impulses and desires, ranging from anger to love, sadness to happiness, resentment to acceptance? (It does not follow, however, that you will act on all these feelings and desires.)

Usually Seldom

10. Do you genuinely enjoy yourself in a wide range of activities, including work, play, creative self-expression, companionship, and just plain loafing?

Usually Seldom

11. Do you sense and consider the needs of others?

Usually Seldom

If your answer to most of the questions is "yes" or "usually," it's an indication that you have a sturdy sense of self-esteem. If most of your answers are "no" or "seldom," you may likely suffer from a low self-image and will need to strengthen it to build the best marriage. Research indicates that self-esteem has a lot to do with the way you will respond to your wife. People with a healthy self-image are more apt to express their opinions, are less sensitive to criticism, and are generally less preoccupied with themselves.

The point of this little self-test is not to accurately pinpoint your self-esteem. It's to generate a helpful discussion between the two of you. So, if you are willing, discuss your answers with each other and talk about how in reality you cannot make each other whole (though you can certainly help each other on the pathway to wholeness).


Exercise Six


If you are using the SYMBIS Assessment, a portion of a page of your fifteen-page report personalizes the results of this particular workbook exercise, so you may want to refer to that page now. Either way, this exercise will help you define love in your own terms and compare your definition with your partner's. It will take ten to fifteen minutes.

Researcher Beverly Fehr asked more than 170 people to rate the central features of love.

The twelve most important attributes they identified are listed below. Take a moment to prioritize this list for yourself by checkmarking the three qualities that are most important to you.

_ Acceptance _ Interest in the other

_ Caring _ Loyalty

_ Commitment _ Respect

_ Concern for the other's _ Supportiveness

_ Friendship _ Trust

_ Honesty _ Wanting to be with
the other

Next, write a brief definition of love that incorporates these qualities.

Love is ...




Now, compare your priorities and your definition with your partner's to see what differences, if any, you might have when it comes to defining love.

Finally, complete these sentences to get a better feel for the application of your definition of love:

I feel most loved when you ...




Though you may or may not know it, I'm showing you my love when I ...


Excerpted from Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Workbook for Men by Les Parrott, Leslie Parrott. Copyright © 2015 Les and Leslie Parrott. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


How to Use This Workbook, 7,
A Quick Note to Leaders, 11,
24 Self-Tests to Put the Book into Action,
1. Your Personal Ten Commandments, 15,
2. Making Your Roles Conscious, 18,
3. From Idealizing to Realizing Your Partner, 21,
4. Exploring Unfinished Business, 23,
5. Assessing Your Self-Image, 26,
6. Defining Love, 29,
7. Getting Your Sex Life Off to a Great Start, 31,
8. Your Changing Love Style, 38,
9. Cultivating Intimacy, 41,
10. Listening to Your Self-Talk, 43,
11. Avoiding the Blame Game, 46,
12. Adjusting to Things Beyond Your Control, 49,
13. How Well Do You Communicate?, 51,
14. The Daily Temperature Reading, 54,
15. I Can Hear Clearly Now, 56,
16. Couple's Inventory, 58,
17. Your Top Ten Needs, 61,
18. Identifying Your Hot Topics, 63,
19. Money Talks and So Can We, 65,
20. Mind Reading, 75,
21. Sharing Withholds, 77,
22. Your Spiritual Journey, 79,
23. Improving Your Serve, 83,
24. Study Your Spouse, 85,
ITL[For Group or Couple Discussion with the Group,
Video Series,
Introduction]ITL, 91,
1. Have You Faced the Myths of Marriage with Honesty?, 94,
2. Can You Identify Your Love Style?, 98,
3. Have You Developed the Habit of Happiness?, 102,
4. Can You Say What You Mean and Understand What You Hear?, 106,
5. Have You Bridged the Gender Gap?, 110,
6. Do You Know How to Fight a Good Fight?, 114,
7. Are You and Your Partner Soul Mates?, 118,

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