Time must be devoted in every relationship and even though schedules may be different this book is a wonderful way for couples to slow down and show they're willing to put aside the time necessary- even if it's weekly! It's a wonderful book.
Closer by Jim & Cathy Burns is a year-long devotional for couples looking to strengthen their marriage. Broken down into 52 easy to read lessons, the authors tackle many of the issues that strain and break marriages in this age when divorce is common and living together before marriage even more so. From finances to kids to sex, the Burns discuss it all in a encouraging and conversational tone. Each lesson has questions at the end for spouses to ask each other to deepen the lesson as well as exercises to keep the conversation going. The most important lesson the authors have for readers is that God must be in the center of a marriage for it to be successful, and that when we seek to change our partner, it's often we who need to change ourselves. The lessons are quick and easy to read in just a few minutes weekly, so it will work for even the busiest couples. Closer is an excellent tool for couples looking to have a better relationship in 2011.
Every couple needs a little extra help with getting closer and getting to know each other. There are fifty-two devotions in this book and each is appropriate for a weeks worth of communication and reflection. I like Jim and Cathys writing style. They share a lot of personal experiences from their marriage which helps to open up the dialogue for the couple reading the book. Some of the exercises in the devotions felt like a bit much, especially for my husband and me. Neither of us likes to get too in-depth and overanalyze things, so some of the faith conversation questions got overlooked. But there is a lot of good advice and guidance and couples can emphasize the areas that work for them.Overall, Closer is a pretty good devotional. It is particularly good for couples who really want to take time to deeply explore their marriage. It covers all the important topics that can cause couples to drift apart and brings them back together.
Jim and Cathy Burns put together an excellent weekly devotional for couples. Their format is very helpful (scripture, personal thought, faith conversations and a step closer). Not only the format, but the topics they discuss are very timely and helpful (trust, attitude, forgiveness, etc.). This is an excellent book for any couple no matter how long they have been together. One of my favorite chapters is titled "The Happiness Effect." I really like the reminded that our circumstances do not dictate our happiness, but our happiness comes from within. This book is full of these kind of helpful reminders and it is well worth the reading.
The Burns' concept for this new devotional is to simply have each couple invest 30 minutes per week reading a short devotional and then talk together, spurred on by the topic of that short chapter.Each 2-4 page chapter's devotion is introduced by a short Scripture quote. "Faith Conversations" and "A Step Closer" assignments are two sections which complete each chapter and encourage conversation designed to build your marriage, with the "A Step Closer" sections involving practicing specific steps--usually writing assignments--to build your marriage (perhaps writing an apology to your spouse, writing your life goals or writing what you want others to say about your marriage).I found the short chapters highly readable, thought-provoking and often moving. Some of the discussion and writing assignments are more challenging than others. Occasionally a topic might even prove a little uncomfortable for one or both spouses. Yet since all marriages have strengths and weaknesses, the perceived most challenging discussions may in fact be the most helpful to your own marriage. Indeed, the strength of this devotional lies in its emphasis on communication.The intent of this devotional is obviously to strengthen a marriage, and with some time, patience and thoughtful discussion I believe this book could be a useful tool to accomplish this. My husband and I have read a number of these devotions together and have decided to continue to use this devotional together, committing to spending one evening per week together in hope of growing "Closer."This book was provided for review by Bethany Housee.