Choosing Marriage — Update and Book Review

The past few months have been a whirlwind.  Soooooo many things have happened since my last posting. Since my last post I have both gotten engaged and married. This gave my last read, Choosing Marriage, special significance.

I discovered the book through the Relevant Magazine Love & Money Podcast, which was co-hosted by Debra Fileta, the author of Choosing Marriage. I highly recommend the Podcast, but today I want to focus on the book, which I am finding tremendously helpful.

The author, Deb Fileta, is a licensed professional counselor. She combines her insight as a counselor with Christian wisdom in Choosing Marriage.

Choosing Marriage is packed full of wisdom for making your marriage better, but also for making yourself better. The need for making yourself better is a major theme throughout the book, making it a good pick for singles as well as couples. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of relationships and is followed by two sets of questions: one for married couples and one for singles. 

Deb Fileta starts by talking about what it means to choose marriage. She gives good reasons to choose marriage. In a culture full of people telling singles to “be content,” Deb Fileta spends all her time on reasons to choose marriage. This is so refreshing.

One major theme of the book is that you must choose your marriage over other things – making the best choice for your marriage in the face of other interests. This will often involve sacrifice; sometimes small, sometimes great. Sometimes that means putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own. It’s about the choice to choose self or choose marriage. She urges readers to always choose marriage. 

One thing the author points out quickly is that it’s never “Me vs. You” in a marriage. It’s always “Me vs. We.” It’s always a matter of whether to choose self or marriage. This was a revolutionary idea. I’m used to seeing the other person as the opponent. This formula emphasizes that it’s not one person versus another. It’s choosing my own selfishness or choosing love. This puts the focus of the issue on me and the fact that I get to make the choice. That’s empowering. And it’s a game changer.

Deb Fileta also spends some time talking about walls that people erect to protect themselves or deal with life: isolation, withdrawal, fantasy, denial. She talks about how destructive they can be, but also talks about how to recognize them and how to break them down through vulnerability and intimacy.

Maintaining intimacy is one of the keys to a lasting marriage, and I don’t just mean sexual intimacy. Deb Fileta talks about the need to have regular connection with your spouse, beginning with conversation. Surface conversation about the weather isn’t enough. Deb Fileta outlines the four levels of conversation couple should regularly have: facts, opinions, feelings, and beliefs. She also stresses the need to always connect with your spouse first. We have to be careful about confiding and discussing too much with friends and family. This includes venting. According to Deb Fileta, the more you connect to other people about the matters of your life the less you’ll need to connect with your spouse about it. This works against the intimacy couples should be building. She stresses the importance of investing your time in your spouse rather than everyone else. 

As a Christian author, Deb Fileta emphasizes the importance of nurturing a deep relationship with God. I’d expect this from a Christian book about marriage. What I didn’t expect is the correlation between nurturing a relationship with God and loving your spouse well. Connection to God facilitates to connection with each other. She notes that we can only love our spouses properly when we have been refreshed and transformed by God himself. Pursuing a relationship with God will produce the fruit of the Spirit, which are essential to loving your spouse.

One of the things I like the best about Deb Fileta’s approach to relationships is her focus on improving yourself. She urges every reader to pursue greater health and wholeness as an individual because this will improve your relationship. She suggests that improving yourself is one of the best ways to improve your relationship. I really like the emphasis on improving yourself and seeing the positive impact on your marriage.

This was a really great read. It was full of insight and wisdom and I am sure I’ll be a better wife because of this book. I would recommend this book for couples for sure. I’d recommend this book for singles if they’re looking for ways to improve themselves in preparation for marriage. This book is less about what to look for and more about what you can do to be ready when you meet him or her. 

There are a lot of books about marriage out there. I feel like this one is unique because it gives the reader a way of looking at marriage that I have not seen presented any other book. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of individual health and the power each individual has to improve their marriage. Highly recommended.

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