Book SummaryBy Jason Coleman
Paper or plastic? Chicken or fish? Latte or cappuccino? “Skinny” or whole milk? Public school or private? PS2, X-Box, or Wii? Made in China or Made in the U.S.A.? We are bombarded with literally hundreds of choices every day! We are blessed in many ways to live in America, where we have freedom of choice. But have you ever considered the concept of too many choices? What’s a person to do? You can’t even order coffee anymore without having to make multiple decisions.
Do you ever find yourself wishing some things in life were less confusing or complicated? Perhaps if you were required to make fewer choices, you would, in some regard, make better choices. Perhaps you would focus on how these choices would impact you for the long term, rather than just the here and now. Then again, there may be times you long for more choices. Times when the options available to you don’t fit your requirements, your mood, your budget, or what you would call an ideal situation. The bottom line is that the choices we all make impact our lives in ways we may not even realize.
If you are married, one of the most important decisions or choices you have made in life is with whom to spend your life. The rest of your life. As you read through the chapters of this book, it is our desire that you look at your marriage with a new perspective and that you understand that you didn’t “fall in love” with your spouse, you chose to love your spouse.
You will see that love is a choice, and that every day you can choose to make your marriage what you want it to be. It is your life. It is your choice how you spend it and with whom you spend it. The choices you make ultimately determine the quality of your life and the quality of your marriage. Wrong choices can be so costly; right choices can be so rewarding. Choose wisely.
Several months ago, as we were talking one night, we realized that no less than five different couples that are friends of ours asked us to intervene in their marriage within a period of four weeks. Paul asked me for advice on how to handle an issue with his wife. Mark asked me to pray for him and his wife, as they were expecting their first child but they were not communicating with one another, and it was driving a wedge between them. Jonathan admitted to having an inappropriate relationship
with another woman, and wanted nothing more than to seek forgiveness and restoration with his wife. Amy broke down and cried while having coffee with Debby one day, and unloaded the pent-up pain and misery she felt because of her failing marriage. In an e-mail, Cathy told Debby of some serious health problems her daughter was fighting and asked her for advice on how she and her husband could work through this without blaming one other.
Debby and I have been married for over twenty years and have made more mistakes than we care to remember, much less write about. Through the years, we have seen so many of our friends locked in marriages that are, at best, mediocre. We have felt the need to write this book for over three years now, and have come to the conclusion that time is running out on so many people we care for and love. We may not have all the answers, but we trust you will be able to identify with some of what we have to say, and it is our desire that we help you achieve the amazing marriage that you and your spouse deserve.
We began our life together on September 30, 1989, after dating for two years. On our wedding day, someone close to Debby told her that she didn’t think we would last three years together. Wow, imagine hearing that on your wedding day! We were both young, but we had been engaged for over a year, and that comment came as a surprise to Debby. We both look back and agree that our first year together was the worst year of our lives, but we are glad to confirm that we made it beyond the three-year expectancy and are still going strong!
During our first year of marriage, our perfect little world was rocked and our marriage was tested as no marriage should be tested. Our separate lives had been thrust together suddenly and we were both so very young and immature, thinking we would have a Cinderella fairy-tale story. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The reality of coming together as husband and wife at such a young age challenged both of us immediately upon saying “I do.” Neither of us was ready, let alone prepared, for what being married meant as far as sacrifice and change of lifestyle. I imagine many, if not most, couples experience similar challenges.
Within the first six months of our marriage, we had to deal with the consequences of infidelity and the very real possibility of divorce. What happened to our relationship in such a short period of time? These things aren’t supposed to happen at all; but if they do, it’s usually later in life when married people drift away from each other. Or so we thought. We now know through our own experiences that nothing can destroy a marriage quicker than infidelity, but we also know that we have a story to tell that may encourage couples to stay the course and make their marriage work, no matter what challenges they may face. We are a living testimony of the power of forgiveness and restoration.
In the midst of dealing with the infidelity and the many choices we had to make, I ended up in the emergency room with a collapsed lung. Debby was faced with the very real possibility of being a widow at the young age of 19. I recovered quickly after a routine surgery, but for the next several years we struggled emotionally, financially, spiritually, and in every other way imaginable. Besides the grace of God, there was one thing that held us together through it all. That one thing is the commitment we have made to one another. We both come from divorced homes so we made it a priority and commitment from the very beginning of our married life to break that cycle of divorce.
Remarkably, we not only made it through those early years, but we have managed to build what we like to describe as an “amazing marriage.” We’re not perfect, and, yes, we still fight. But we understand one another and have enough love and respect for one another so that we can disagree on issues without endangering our relationship. We’re not insecure in our relationship and we know that we can and will survive whatever life throws our way. We make a choice every day to make it through whatever crisis we happen to be facing on that particular day, and we choose to stay the course.
Our desire is to write a book that empowers people to unlock their potential to develop and maintain an amazing marriage. In the following pages, you will find practical tools and suggestions for strengthening your relationship and growing closer to your partner, if you apply the principles herein to your marriage.
We attribute much of our happiness and commitment to each other to our sacred religious vows and our relationship with God, though we acknowledge that not everyone shares those same beliefs. At the end of each chapter, you will find a biblical perspective on the principles reviewed. This perspective helps explain the principles from a Christian perspective. You may choose not to read the biblical perspective; that’s up to you. That is one of the many choices you get to make in life. If that perspective doesn’t appeal to you, simply skip that part and go on to the next chapter. You can certainly experience what we call an “amazing marriage” without sharing our religious beliefs.
Whether you read the biblical sections or not, we trust this book will resonate with you and help you to build bridges toward a successful marriage. We also understand that you may have a different name for God, depending on your faith—for example, Yahweh, Yeshua, Adonai, or Creator—but due to our faith, and for simplicity, we will use the name God throughout the book. We believe in the God of the Christian Bible, and His son, Jesus Christ.
Grab a cup of coffee, or your favorite beverage, and get comfortable as you begin the journey. Oh, one last thing. We want to apologize up front if we step on your toes or discuss some things that make you wince or that will strike a nerve and make you feel uncomfortable. Chances are, we will. That’s where we suggest you take out your highlighter or pen and mark up your book for future reference. After all, that topic may be the very thing standing in between you and an amazing marriage.
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