“Most people spend far more time in preparation for their vocation than they do in preparation for marriage.”
This sample statement identifies this author’s main audience and prompts them to spend more time addressing their relationship at different marital stages and even before marriage. Author/pastor/Building Relationship radio show host Gary Chapman authors a solid, 144-page book that combats various marital issues while incorporating finances, personal communication, gender roles, forgiveness/apologizing, family history, expectations, personal compatibility, love emotions, and even household duties like cleaning the toilet. He also handles mature subjects well; expands his existing writing (e.g. the apology languages, etc.) and even dedicates an entire chapter to sexual intimacy.
Chapman’s soft, simple tone provides easy intake to some tough subjects that makes readers feel comfortable yet urges honesty. He states “you are human” when discussing mistakes. When discussing personality and behavior, he wants readers to be “willing to do something you would never do on your own.” Communication advice includes listening and talking through one topic at a time. The inner skeptic can always say “easier said than done,” but Chapman’s constant themes diminish information overload in the reader’s mind with simple, memorable steps.
Practice usually makes perfect so Chapman provides several referential material near the end of the book with a “Talking It Over” question section at the end of each chapter. The appendix actually would enhance the overall reading at the beginning and establish healthy dating relationship development. The last 10 pages are basically advertisements and links to interactive websites as well as books, mostly by Chapman, that will enhance this information. These tools can help readers make informed decisions based on their own personal knowledge, personality, and lifestyle.
Stresses, challenges, and victories get a personal touch with real life examples from Chapman’s life. He shares good, practical examples and uses the first, second, and third perspective. He also refers to his New York Times bestselling The Five Love Languages books, extensively referenced in Chapter 9. The book even includes a reference card in the back to tear out. This book section also includes a revealing learning exercise for dating couples.
The short chapters do not overload readers. A few, longer examples/personal stories could enhance the book and provide a good narrative, especially in Chapter 7, while boosting the emotional involvement in the subject matter and the reader’s own personal life. In Chapter 8 when Chapman addresses finances, he says “I will not bore you with our specific skirmishes.” Again, he sticks with practical knowledge, but an extended introductory scenario would be nice. His personally euphoric “falling in love” descriptions work very well in a short format.
This area would make an interesting medical case study. Most audiences can relate to the feelings, but are not exactly sure what produces these feelings every time. Chapman also provides thought-provoking questions here including why these feelings ebb or diminish over the course of a relationship or dating period. Awkward phrases and words “inasmuch” occur on a low frequency and the book has a pretty smooth flow except the occasional feel of a television commercial. Chapman’s imparted knowledge enhances with concept repetition and practical references can help readers fine-tune their personal communication skills like openly sharing expectations.