Friday, February 14, 2014

{Giveaway} 5 ways to The Marriage You've Always Wanted

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Or as we like to say around here ... Happy First-Date Day! 

Greg and I went on our first date 16 years ago today. It's a story I still love telling. {You can go here to read the long version.} But, more importantly, it was the beginning of this relationship that has literally changed my life.

And I don't mean that in a totally sappy way.

Photo by Jenn Hall King.
Marriage is hard. But, after 11 years 6 months and 11 days in, I can tell you we think marriage gets better each year. Just recently, Greg and I were talking about our marriage. We both have quirks that annoy each other, but when it comes down to it, there's not anything we'd change about our marriage.

Sure, I could be more diligent about not opening the bathroom door numerous times while he's in the shower, letting the steamy air escape.

He could stop leaving his dirty clothes piled up in the bathroom and rid his bed-side table of piles.

I could consider not putting my cold hands and feet on him as soon as we get in bed.

And he could stop packing in plastic grocery sacks.

But this marriage of ours is solid because we've chosen to invest everything we have into it. Even so, marriage requires constant maintenance. One way I feel my wife role getting new life breathed into it is through some excellent books that I've come across recently.

My blogging friend Kayse Pratt recently released "Worth the Fight: Lessons Learned in a High Maintenance Marriage," a short ebook packed with wisdom, encouragement and challenges for married couples. {You can read my review and a little more about our marriage here.} I've also been reading "There's an Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life" by Melanie Shankle. Talk about real-life funny weaved together with truth.

And then there's "The Marriage You've Always Wanted" by Gary Chapman. I'm pretty sure it's going to be the book I hand to anyone I know getting married. The wisdom is practical and based on the Bible. I wish I had taken the time to learn more at the beginning, but I'm thankful I eventually learned the freedom that comes with letting go of the unhealthy and unnecessary expectations and held fast to what really mattered. {And, yes, I still have to come back to this and remember.}

Some of the stories in "The Marriage You've Always Wanted" hit so close to home that I read them to Greg. We laughed because it was like Chapman had peeked into our life. Other times I cringed because he was describing the selfish place I resided for too long and still sometimes fall back into.

Here's five tips inspired by Chapman's book for having that marriage you've always wanted. I'm sharing them with you, yes, but I'm reminding myself too.

1. Love with words that build up. As Chapman says, "One of the most powerful means of edification is the compliment. Find something small or great that you like about your mate and express appreciation."

2. Let your action speak love too. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love it courteous. Love is unselfish.

3. Communicate. "No, your husband cannot read your mind. ... Communication is an act of the will," Chapman writes. And communicate about everything, including money and sex.

4. Work as a team. Yes, husbands and wives each have family and household roles they are better suited for, but that doesn't mean the other shouldn't step in and help. An often frowned upon concept, Chapman describes submission in possibly the best way I've heard. He talks about the Trinity, order, unity and spiritual gifts and how those apply to marriage, which requires submission to be a mutual exercise. "Submission is the opposite of demanding one's own way and is required on the part of both the husband and wife," Chapman writes.

5. Leave your parents, but continue to honor them. Thankfully, we haven't had in-laws issues. Yes, our families are different, but we've found ways to enjoy them both. Holidays, vacations, traditions, and expectations are so rooted in our childhoods. Married couples need to make their own decisions and traditions, but learning from those who have gone down this road before us is always a good thing.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: "The Marriage You've Always Wanted" (144 pages, Moody Publishers) is available now. You can picture the perfect marriage in your mind, but re-creating it in reality doesn’t come easy. Trusted counselor and relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman reasons that the most sought-after ingredient in any marriage is true oneness. In "The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted," he presents expert wisdom and common sense methods to establishing that true unity on emotional and practical levels.

Discover the wit and insight that makes his worldwide presentations and marriage conferences so popular. Are you trying to change your spouse? Do you know what it means to really love someone? Do you feel ignored or even alone in your effort to improve your marriage? Dr. Chapman has answers and action steps on topics from expressing your emotions to managing your money, all in a format that will have you and your spouse talking and learning with every page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: As anyone who has attended one of his marriage conferences knows, Dr. Gary Chapman’s expertise in marriage begins with the success and failures he and his wife Karolyn have experienced in their marriage for more than 45 years. His own life experiences, plus more than 35 years of pastoring and marriage counseling, led him to publish his first book in the love language series, "The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate."

Since the success of his first book, Dr. Chapman has expanded his Five Love Languages series with special editions that reach out specifically to singles, men, and parents of teens and young children. He is the author of numerous other books published by Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing. He also speaks at marriage conferences and hosts a nationally syndicated radio program.

Dr. Chapman and his wife have two grown children and currently live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

ON THE WEB :: Official website. Facebook. Twitter.

GIVEAWAY! :: Somebody is going to win a copy of this fabulous book!

If you're married, tell me in the comments how long you've been married and what's one of the greatest lessons you've learned in that time. If you're not married, you can enter too. Just tell me a lesson you've learned from a married couple you know. A winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, Feb. 21.

This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents.

CONGRATULATIONS to Brooke Lowry for winning this fabulous book. Thanks to everyone who entered and shared some valuable lessons they've learned in marriage.

I received a copy of this book from FlyBy Promotions in exchange for this review. These opinions are my own. FlyBy Promtions is also providing the winner of the giveaway with a copy of the book. The winner is selected randomly, but if you've won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win again. Affiliate links included in this post.

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  1. Tabitha Myers2/14/2014 8:32 AM

    We've been married 12 1/2 years. Several years ago I was in a small prayer group, led by a woman who could be my grandmother, and she told us that we really needed to be smart about picking our battles with our husbands. She told us that so many things that people fight about just aren't worth it and to just let them go. Only fight for the important things. So, I guess that kind of goes along with letting go. It was really hard for me to understand early in my marriage, because I come from a family of arguers and fighters. We fought about many things that didn't matter at all and our marriage was not very happy. I won't say we never fight, now, but we are both better at choosing the important battles and letting the rest slide off our back.

  2. 9 years and we have learned together life is an adventure, unpredictable and worth the fight!

  3. My husband and I have been married for almost 24 years and one of the big blessings in this deployment is how I can totally see how God is using it as an opportunity for us to improve our communication with each other. So when you listed that in your tips from the book it jumped out at me. This marriage's hard but so worth the fight. :)
    Happy Valentine's Day. Happy dating anniversary!!

  4. KristinHillTaylor2/14/2014 2:07 PM

    That's some advice I wish I'd gotten earlier in life. Well, maybe I did, but I was too stubborn to hear it ... :)

  5. We have been married almost 18 years and I have learned that I often have unrealistic expectations of my husband and that can lead to hurt feelings and disrespect. When I love him well, pray for him and don't set unmeetable expectations…everyone is happier!! :)

  6. KristinHillTaylor2/15/2014 10:00 AM

    Those are good lessons, Teresa! I'm glad you entered to win this great book.

  7. KristinHillTaylor2/15/2014 10:01 AM

    Ah, yes, I'm right there with you on that one, Kristin! We certainly have more in common than our name and its spelling. :)

  8. I've been married 7 1/2 years and one thing I've learned is to just hold on when things are bad...because they won't stay that way. They always get better. I love the practical tips here.

  9. KristinHillTaylor2/16/2014 7:34 PM

    Oh, yes, that's so true. Glad you entered to win this book!

  10. Shelley Street Byrne2/17/2014 9:57 AM

    I love Gary Chapman's books, so I am excited about this giveaway. Paul and I have been married 9 1/2 years. One of the lessons I have learned in that time is that it's important not only to communicate, but WHAT you communicate about. It can't be just the day-to-day things, what needs to be done, who is going to do what, etc. It's still important to take time to talk about our hopes and dreams, our goals for ourselves, even when tough times make it hard to get a good grasp on what the future may hold.

  11. KristinHillTaylor2/17/2014 9:59 AM

    Yes - that's so true, Shelley! I'm a Gary Chapman fan too, and this is my favorite from him yet! Thanks for entering. :)

  12. Brooke Gee-Lowry2/17/2014 10:06 AM

    It will be 8 years this coming April for us. The biggest thing I have learned in those years is that I simply can not control everything. Which, for me, is the hardest thing in my entire life. I enjoy knowing what's next, and knowing that I planned things. This was an issue in our marriage and I have had to just let go, and let things be. Learning this through my marriage has made it possible for it to spill over into life in general. I am now enjoying things as they come, and learning to live in the moment all thanks to my supportive husband.

  13. KristinHillTaylor2/17/2014 10:15 AM

    That's the story of my life, Brooke! :) My realizations started in my marriage too and overflowed. So thankful I finally loosened my grip ... at least somewhat! I'm glad you came over here to enter to win this book!

  14. Brooke Gee-Lowry2/17/2014 10:19 AM

    Of course, I sort of stalk your blog =)

  15. Emily Simmons2/20/2014 5:48 PM

    We've been married for 10 (almost 11!) years. The biggest lesson I've learned is that when we disagree we need to communicate, not to prove our point but to try to understand the other person's point of view. This flipped everything on its head for me.

  16. KristinHillTaylor2/20/2014 7:27 PM

    Oh, yes, I'll admit I'm the arguer in our relationships. Thankfully, I've learned some lessons there too. :)