Monday, March 19, 2012

Happily Ever After: Six Secrets to a Successful Marriage by Gary Chapman (book review)

I read The Five Love Languages back in college, early in our marriage. It helped me gain an insight to my husband and has helped me to fill his love tank for 5 1/2 years. Gary Chapman wrote that book to help couples learn about one another and how best to love one another. In Happily Ever After, he strives to help married couples go from a place of strife to a place of love - to not just have a marriage but a happy one.

I enjoyed the first part of this book about conflict resolution. I come from a family that yells, Big A comes from a family that shuts down (this in the face of a disagreement). We both have had to work very hard to overcome this natural state when we disagree, but I will be the first to admit that I am the worse of the two. Arguing makes my blood boil and I can go from fine to really ticked off so quickly!! I've come a long way in 5 1/2 years, but there's still work to be done. I believe this book has helped me understand that I need to listen WAY more than talk (and not just in my marriage situation) and really listen. I need to understand what the other person is saying before I think about what I'm going to say, not be thinking of a comeback while they are speaking. Of course, I knew these things but sometimes it helps to see them in black and white.

The only part of Chapman's book that I disagreed with was the parenting/discipline of children chapters. They were obviously not written for the under 5 crowd. He says that children need to know why there are rules - I agree but my children (although I've told them) don't really understand yet. And I'm ok with that - they need to obey me. Chapman fails to realize that there are two schools (so to speak) of spanking. Reactive and thought out. I agree with him 100% when it comes to reactive spanking but he fails to take in that the Bible specifically calls for the "rod." As written in many James Dobson books and Shepherding a Child's Heart, spanking can be an effective tool, especially for the younger kids, in raising children with obedient hearts and bodies. Chapman, however, says that "it may be a reflection of a parent's unwillingness to invest time trying to teach the child obedience." I was so offended, I about put the book down there. I use that type of discipline to help my children better understand obedience. We talk plenty about obedience - why God wants us to obey our parents (so we can later obey Him), how it's safe to obey us. Chapman talks a lot about natural consequences, which I feel is a very effective tool paired with spanking and especially as children get older. If my boys can't share cars, cars get picked up. I don't use spanking in all situations but there is a time and place for it. I felt that Chapman should stick with  marriage and relationship tools because he did not speak to parents of young children in these chapters. I did agree with this statement from the book: "Threats confuse a child; consistent action gives the child security."

I'll be honest, after these parenting chapters, I droned out of the book. I read it but not much of it sank in. He insulted my way of parenting, a way of parenting that I have already seen blessings of. The rest of the book is really filled with good tips on budgeting and managing your money as a couple, making love during marriage out of respect and love for the other person.

The last chapters about in-law relationships held some very good advice. I'm trying very hard to use this advice to build up my relationship with Big A's parents. I'm going to try to really understand them and listen. I even called my MIL yesterday to try to set up a time when I could bring the kids to see her (didn't work out but I tried). That was a big step for me.

Overall, this book is a good start to living Happily Ever After. I think that it would make a lovely wedding or shower gift for a bride-to-be.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may or may not share my opinions but they are all my own. Others may or may not have the same experiences with the book, author, and/or publishing company as I've had.

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