Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage
by Greg Smalley and Erin Smalley
Greg and Erin Smalley share what they call 12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance in their new book, Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage. Each chapter offers up a tip/secret/marriage principle, such as honoring one another, communication strategies, serving each other, and being committed to each other and to the relationship. The Smalleys specifically combat some of the lies we buy into about marriage like “marriage is easy when you find ‘the one’ or ‘marriage is about being happy.’
The book is written with a great deal of humor and honest stories from their own marriage. Most of it seems written from Greg Smalley’s perspective with Erin jumping in occasionally. I thought some of the best content in the book covered the area of the husband struggling as the spiritual leader in a marriage. For so many women, when we say we want our men to be spiritual leaders, we define that very specifically: He needs to initiate prayer time with us every day. He needs to lead us in family devotions and devotions for us as a couple. He needs to have daily quiet times that include a prayer journal and then talk about those spiritual insights with us.
I’ve found over the years that for most women, this is a trap of disappointment and frustration and leads to dishonoring our husbands. Greg Smalley said it so well in this book: “I want to challenge men to let go of preconceived notions about what it means to be a spiritual leader–where they’re only focused on spiritual disciplines. I want to challenge each woman to broaden her definition of what it means to be a spiritual leader and to notice all the ways that her husband loves and cares for his family….God has gifted every person with specific strengths. Certain gifts help men lead the family toward God, using His methods of humility and grace. A man can give spiritual leadership in all kinds of ways. (pp. 40-41).
It was eye-opening to read this book when you remember that Greg Smalley is the son of the quite successful Christian marriage author and speaker, Gary Smalley. So, you’d probably expect Greg to have a pretty good start in his own marriage. He’s fairly open and honest about the fact that his marriage actually struggled quite a bit in the beginning and there was a lot of head knowledge about marriage that he had to learn over time how to actually put into practice.
I would have loved to hear even more from Erin Smalley in this book. I’ll be honest, a lot of the time Greg sounds like he’s defending some of his choices by emphasizing how his wife does actually love that he’s fun and spontaneous. For instance, I think even at the end of the book, he thinks it was ‘cool’ and ‘fun’ that he jumped into some water on their honeymoon that was clearly marked “NO SWIMMING” and thought his wife was the one with the problem since she refused to join him. To me, that’s not ‘cool’ or ‘fun’ or remotely ‘romantic.’ It sounds pretty unwise and foolish. Even more than that, it sounds childish, dangerous and illegal. So, I had a hard time applauding him or even feeling remotely swayed by his perspective that their disagreement was a mutual problem or that she also needed to grow and mature so she could appreciate their differences. But, what can I say, I didn’t marry someone who would do something like that and I guess that’s just one more reason I can be so thankful for my own husband!
In addition to all of the material within the book itself, they include links at the end of each chapter for date night ideas and followup questions for couples and small groups. I can’t say that this was the most insightful book about marriage I’d ever read. Most everything in the book could have been picked up from any other Christian marriage book and the “12 secrets” didn’t really seem like secrets at all. But as a basic Christian marriage manual, this is a good read.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and 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.”
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