The following is my review on The Surprising Way to a Stronger Marriage by Michael and Amy Smalley.
First of all, I love the simplicity of the cover with it's mirror reflecting the voice of the book. My son said they ought to make it silver or something, and I totally get what he's saying.
Upon opening, it immediately confirmed my spirit. If I am looking for a miracle, I must change. That's why I am here. I am in this place to change ME.
It really is that simple. God never points out something within someone else's life without directing us to change our own.
Another thing that stood out to me-as Michael Smalley pointed out through a story about his momÃ¢â¬âwas how we have to take responsibility for our own responses and not take on another's issues-we must return them. (ch 2 p 18)
Add to that this awesome quote from Amy Smalley, and you've got a healthy recipe for repentance. (At least in my case, as these words mimic me all too well.)
"By focusing on Michael's brokenness, I put him down with blame and elevated myself with pride." (ch 3 p 21)
Wait, now I have to reevaluate my view of defensiveness?
"Defensiveness is a person's attempt to resolve a problem through arguing, explaining away, or being combative." (ch 4 p 28)
You mean, it's not really defending myself when I don't need to?
"Discussing the facts only causes defensiveness in the person we're arguing with." (ch 4 p 28)
One of the good things about this book is, it is complete with a study guide to walk you through the process.
*This review is on behalf of Tyndale House Publishers who provided a complimentary copy of this book.
** Visit the following link for my complete review:
I received a copy of this book through the Tyndale Blog Network. The single image on the front cover of a hand mirror aptly describes the book before you even pick it up. It is about taking personal responsibility in your marriage. No matter what kind of shape your marriage is in, you have the power to begin the process of changing it for the best. You cannot base your relationship solely on what your spouse does or does not do. It is your responsibility to change yourself into the spouse YOU should be.
I was very pleased with the way the Smalleys have written this book. It is laid out in a very informal and straightforward style. I appreciate the fact that they present the material from both the husband's and wife's perspective in sharing personal stories and stories taken from their counseling experience. The material is presented in a step-by-step type process of things to begin working on in your marriage, which makes the change seem more easily achievable. Probably the best part about this book is the fact that all the material is based on what the Bible has to say - we are told to remove the beam out of our own eye before trying to remove the spec out of someone else's eye. God judges us by how we act and react not on how our spouse treats us. The book includes a study guide to help the reader change. It provides a challenge, key verse, and a few questions to ask yourself about the role you play as a spouse. The only downside to the study guide is that there is no space provided for you to write down your answers, thoughts, etc. This book will be wonderful material for me to use now in my own marriage and in future ministry helping others. I would recommend this book to anyone struggling in their marriage or planning to counsel someone who is struggling.
There are things that God brings our way at just the right time in our lives. That's what the book The Surprising Way to a Stronger Marriage by Michael and Amy Smalley is to me. At a time when hubby and I are going through some struggles, this book arrived. It did not look too interesting to me at first. In fact, I wondered why there's a mirror in the cover. Since this is a book about marriage, shouldn't the cover have a picture of a couple in it?
After reading the first chapter, I was hooked. I couldn't stop reading it because it actually opened my eyes to the reality of our marital problems. I learned that I don't have to wait for me husband to act on our problems. What I needed to do was to start taking responsibility for our problems, to stop blaming him and looking to my husband for solutions, and to start looking at how I also contributed to the problems and how I can start the change in me.
Authors Michael and Amy Smalley have been married for 15 years and "specialize in teaching couples the principles of loving well and loving for a lifetime." Their teachings are biblical and realistic, making you look at yourself to start making a difference for your marriage.
I plan to read The Surprising Way to a Stronger Marriage by Michael and Amy Smalley all over again for the stuff I missed because I read it so fast. The mirror on the cover was actually just right because they say that the solution to your problems is staring at you when you look in the mirror. I'm not claiming that my problems are solved after reading this, but it has made me take a different perspective, not only in my relationship with my husband, but also in relationship to others.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House as part of their Book Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
If you think your marriage is at the end of the rope or you just want have a better marriage, this book is for you. It helps you to see with "the power of one", you can accomplish a lot with changing your own thinking and looking within yourself as to what you can do. I've always been told that while we point fingers at others there are those that are pointing right back at ourselves not to mention that tells us that we shouldn't point out the speck in someone else's eye when there is a plank in your own.
I love that this was written by both of the Smalleys together as they both talk about what they have gone through in their own marriage and dealt with personally. I also enjoyed that it was a short read and had a study guide in the back to go along with it, so I don't have to purchase an additional study guide.
I know this has already made me see things that I need to work on within myself to make my marriage better, and I can't wait to loan it to friends. :)
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.
I like this book and would recommend it to couples for a couple of reasons:
1. At 139 pages (plus a study guide in the back) it's easily read in a day or two. And since their are two people contributing it almost has a conversational feel. I liked having the point of view of both husband and wife. The back and forth of their conversation and stories flowed well throughout the book and didn't make for a choppy read. I appreciated the couples honesty and authenticity in sharing of their own relationship and struggles.
2. I think my favorite quote from this book is, "We can't control what happens to us but we can control how we respond." The authors focus on what "you" can do in your marriage instead of blaming someone else (i.e. your spouse) for your unhappiness. They do a great job of guiding someone through forgiveness and disappointment in marriage and showing you how to respond in love (even in a hurtful situation) and work towards reconciliation.
Michael and Amy Smalley have written a wonderful resource for marriages that are in trouble or for couples who want to take a preventive measure and go through the study that's in the back of the book together. This book is definitely worth a read, and I've already recommended it to a friend who is struggling.
This book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishers for review.