Category Archives: Marriage

101 Nights of Grrreat Romance, TBP #42

“101 Nights of Grrreat Romance.”

Because, you know, I’m all about romance.

So, Laura Corn’s “choose your adventure” book for romantic ways to pursue your spouse was just too fun to pass up.

First tear out page: “Introduction.” (Basically, how-this-book-works.) Cherish him, surprise him… and delight in his surprises, too.

Be a willing participant. Enjoy spontaneity. But also schedule time to be romantic! In a survey of what men and women look for in romance, men listed “having a [spouse] who is spontaneous or who surprises me” as number seven.


Sealed tear out pages. We mainly followed the symbols at the bottom of the page as to whether we chose to tear it out or not. Symbols such as a snowflake mean you need cold weather and a car means you’re going somewhere… and a babysitter may be needed. One $ symbol means 10 to 25 dollars all the way up to a $ symbol inside a star which means over a hundred dollars. No $ sign means free or under ten dollars.

Corn designed the book to accomplish four things:

  • “It makes your relationship a priority.
  • It creates a commitment to romance.
  • It creates private, intimate time together.
  • It renews your sense of romantic excitement.”

The book was super fun. For a while. Somewhere along the way, it turned into a competition. ugh. Not so fun.

So, we shelved it for a season. To give us some time to mature. 😉

That was 17 romantic dates and about a dozen years ago. Hm, it might be time to brush off the dust and start planning some wildly romantic dates again.

Rating: 2 stars.



To Understand Each Other, TBP #41

“That is what marriage really means: helping one another to reach the full status of being persons, responsible and autonomous beings who do not run away from life.”   — Paul Tournier 

63 short pages. Written in 1962 by Paul Tournier, a Swiss physician. Succinct. Forthright.

Chapters with titles such as, “To Achieve Understanding, We Need to Want It,” and a quick three-page chapter titled, “My Husband Is a Mysterious Island!” In the latter, he talks about the “thrill of discovery.” He writes, “If you think that you know your wife or your husband, it is because you have given up the real attempt to discover him.”

In the chapter titled “To Achieve Understanding, We Need Courage” he writes, “A complete unveiling of one’s inner thoughts, an absolute necessity for real and deep understanding, demands a great deal of courage.” He goes on to relay the importance of being a safe place for the other.

To listen without judgment or criticism. To listen without offering unsolicited advice.

“If they are not understood, it is because they have not opened up.

…Why, then, is it that so many people in my office say to me, ‘With you I can open up, because you understand me’? The truth is rather the reverse; I understand them because they open up.”

Throughout the pages, he emphasizes the universal human need of being understood. The theme is reiterated from every angle in every chapter. The importance of listening. Of showing compassion and kindness and empathy to the one who shares vulnerably.

“Marriage then becomes a great adventure, a continuous discovery both of oneself and of one’s mate. It becomes a daily broadening of one’s horizon, an opportunity of learning something new about life, about human existence, about God. This is why in the beginning of the Bible God says, ‘It is not good that man should be alone.’ Man here mans the human being: ‘It is not good that the human being should be alone.’ The human being needs fellowship; he needs a partner, a real encounter with others. He needs to understand others, and to sense that others understand him.

Such is the very intention of God in instituting marriage, according to the Bible. Alone, a man marks time and becomes very set in his ways. In the demanding confrontation which marriage constitutes, he must ever go beyond himself, develop, grow up into maturity. When marriage is reduced to mere symbiosis of two persons essentially hidden from one another, peaceful though such life may sometimes be, it has completely missed its goal. Then it is not solely the marriage which has failed, but both husband and wife. They have failed in their calling as a man and a woman. To fail to understand one’s spouse is to fail to understand oneself. It is also a failure to grow and to fulfill one’s possibilities.”

Tournier’s book is a perfect quick read for anyone who is in any contact with another person, ever. The concepts aren’t new. God Himself walked in the cool of the day and conversed with Adam and Eve. Relationship experts are still writing and speaking on the value of understanding.  Mainly, care. Care deeply. Listen. Listen for understanding.

I love the possibility of what can happen when people understand one another better. When there’s a trust so deep in the relationship that the sharing brings about healing and transformation… “to grow and to fulfill one’s possibilities.” May it be so.

Rating: 3 out of 3 stars.

It’s definitely staying on my shelf. This is a great resource… and an occasional re-read.



The 5 Love Needs of Men & Women, TBP #40

Only four more books to review on the topic of marriage! We’re in the home stretch!

I haven’t read “The 5 Love Needs of Men & Women” by Dr. Gary & Barbara Rosberg so I don’t have anything insightful to give you regarding this book.

I did read “The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands” by Laura Schlessinger back in 2006. Good book. I do recommend it. Unfortunately, I heard stories from several women who said their husbands shoved it at them, demanding, “You need to read this.” gracious. Us wives long to shower you husbands with honor and respect and love and intimacy. Be examples. Communicate with grace. Trust that our intent is to love you well.

Regarding needs… Sure, the research and polls state the data. But what if… just what if… we learn to liberate our marriages by not needing anything from them? What if, instead of seeking my needs to be met or even striving to meet my spouse’s needs, we seek God’s Kingdom for our marriages? (Matthew 6:19)

LeRoy and I attended Paul David Tripp’s marriage conference, “What Did You Expect?” back in 2013. The whole conference was beautiful in that it refocused our eyes on Jesus instead of what to do to fulfill or “complete” the other person. {huge sigh of relief} In fact, one of the last notes I wrote in our notebook reads, “When I experience you in your sin and mess, I don’t have to be angry or worried because I am putting my trust in Sovereign God.”

Yes. That.

No rating as I haven’t read Rosberg’s book. Perhaps it’s time to gather all the “Needs/You Complete Me” books and donate them. I get it that we live in the information age. Is it possible though, to think that Adam and Eve may have enjoyed intimacy, closeness, and friendship in spite of not knowing each other’s top five needs?



Weekend to Remember, TBP #39

Ah! Our conference manuals from Family Life’s Weekend to Remember!

These aren’t really books, per se. They’re the manuals we received when we attended Family Life’s “A Weekend to Remember” Marriage Conference. So they’re full of anecdotes and stories and articles interspersed with our notes from the sessions we attended.

The sweetest part of the weekend was being away together along with getting to hear challenging and encouraging speakers on the topic of marriage. Of course, right? But the other sweet part of the weekend was that session in which we had like an hour and a half or something to write a love letter to our spouse. These pages are the best parts — the pages that mean the most. Pages 64 and 65, The Love Letter written by me to LeRoy in his manual and him to me in mine. Dated October 29, 2005, they reflect a season in which we were still healing from some difficult years. They’re full of words synonymous with commitment. I love that.

I’m not super emotional. But that.

To attend a Family Life Marriage Conference, go to They also have the content from a full weekend condensed into a mini-conference called The Art of Marriage Conference. Having attended both of these conferences once, I do recommend either one, (or both, if you have an opportunity!), at least once.



No rating… after all, they’re notebooks. 😉

And of course we’ll keep them. …And it may be time to review…


Best Friends, TBP #38

“Why just be married when you can be… Best Friends: Featuring Bible studies and friendship-building exercises for both of you.” by Conrad Smith.

{sigh} Like I said before, alllll these marriage books! I don’t know where this book came from but “Jim and Lynda” (written in several places), filled in the answers in the first few chapters. I found those more interesting than the actual book.

I didn’t read this book. Though, I have to say, as I perused it, I did find a few little nuggets for conversation and date nights. Still, I’ll put it in the go away pile.

No rating.



The Wedding Covenant, TBP #37

During a wedding, do you know why the ushers unroll a white runner down the center aisle? Or why the father of the bride walks with her down the aisle? Or do you know why, during the reception, the couple feeds cake to each other?

“The True Significance of The Wedding Covenant” is a 19-page booklet explaining the significance of these traditions and more. In case you were wondering. 😉

Rating: 2 stars.


The Two Sides of Love, TBP #36

This is an oldie, but goodie. Remember the Otter, Lion, Beaver, Golden Retriever personality test? Gary Smalley and John Trent, Ph.D. help you understand yourself and those around you by “finding a healthy balance between love’s hard and soft sides.”

“The Two Sides of Love: What strengthens affection, closeness and lasting commitment” by Smalley and Trent is both lighthearted and profound. While I enjoy these personality and temperament assessments, I also know that people change. So I read these, take the assessments, and know that they are fluid. The results might be different next year or five years from now.

In the meantime, it’s fun to have a metaphor for personality types. And it is helpful for understanding others better.

Review: 2 stars

I’ll keep it on my shelf for now. 🙂


Night Light, TBP #33

Here’s the thing, I really thought we’d go through this devotional together.

I still think we will.

Night Light: A Devotional for Couples by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson comes highly recommended by a handful of friends and marriage counselors alike.

So, others have given it a high rating.

…there will be a day… LeRoy and I will sit wrapped in gingham quilts in the crisp autumn air on the front porch swing of our mountain cabin. We’ll take turns reading the devotional for the day while sipping steaming mugs of coffee. The view may even match the one on the front cover. It will be perfect.


Quiet Times for Couples, TBP #32

What is it about devotionals? It seems like every couple of weeks, a wife posts on social media asking other wives, “Does anyone know of a devotional they’d recommend for my husband and I to go through together?”

Are you and your husband a devotional-reading couple? If you had asked me before I got married if my future husband and I would read devotionals together, I’m pretty sure I would have said yes.

Now? I’ll smile, blink a few times, and tell you ‘no.’ Maybe somewhere deep inside me, there’s a glimmer of something that thinks this might be a fun idea. someday.

So, Quiet Times for Couples by H. Norman Wright sits quietly on my bookshelf, waiting until a season in which we suddenly decide to be a devotional-reading couple.

I’m not holding my breath.

No rating.




Romance:Nurturing Your Marriage Through the Homeschool Years, TBP #31

Reading Romance: Nurturing Your Marriage Through the Homeschool Years is like spending the day with the author, Heidi St. John. Imagine arriving at her house at around seven in the morning, being greeted at the door by a bright-eyed, sticky-fingered cherub who leads you into the kitchen. There you are greeted by Heidi herself as she gives you a quick hug and offers you something hot to drink.

There are children of varying heights everywhere. They’re at the sink washing an apple, sitting on the couch looking at picture books, two are at the table squabbling over the jam knife, drops of jam going on table and clothing. And there’s this supernatural peace over the whole scene. You’re curious. And so am I. So we lean in, hoping to glean secrets to gaining peace in the midst of messiness.

This gal is the real deal. Right away, her disarming stories about the realities of homeschooling and keeping the romance alive in her marriage cause you to relax and let go of any guilt. In the first chapter, she comes right out and says, “I usually don’t tell people exactly how we homeschool, because I honestly believe that what works for our family may not work for another family.”

Encouragement flows from the pages as Heidi talks about the vortex — those years when Latin becomes more important than lingerie. And, sisters, if we’re being honest here, training up children regardless if we’re homeschooling or otherwise, this vortex is a reality in all of our homes. Somehow, in the midst of harried schedules and all that “must be achieved,” legalism replaces laughter.

“Take care of yourself.” She writes it plain on page 45. In order to escape the vortex and restore the romance, self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Be realistic about how much rest you need and what is your stress threshold.

I complimented a friend one time on her superb ability to set firm boundaries on their family’s schedule. She said, “Sharon, we do this to keep our home sane. We put our children to bed at that time because I need the rest.” Know your limits. So that you have the wherewithal to be a student of your spouse and what makes him tick.

So that you have the wherewithal to give your husband preference in all things.

My children know that if I’m busy and the phone rings they tell the caller, “My mom is in the middle of a project. Can I take a message?” Unless it’s my husband. And there’s something sweet about seeing the smile on my child’s face when I’m in the zone and anyone else on earth would have been put on hold, but they hand me the phone and watch me drop everything to talk to the most important person on earth.


*This is what happened as I was finishing that last paragraph: My sweet husband is downstairs making breakfast — a favorite long standing weekend tradition in our house. In our family, we ring a Swiss cowbell when it’s time to eat. There’s a first “five-minute warning” bell. Then the second bell means it’s ready — come to the table!

Well, I was in my zone. I heard the first bell. I considered an immediate stopping point. Then I continued.

The second bell rang. And I had almost completed my thought. I typed a little quicker. Then my husband yelled up the stairs, “Sharon! We’re all waiting on you!” (The bell is supposed to make it so that no one feels compelled to yell for people at mealtimes.) So, I kept the most important person on earth waiting while I continued on in my zone. {Keeping it real.} We’re a work in progress.


My takeaway from the book: From self-care to preferring our husbands. From scheduling white space for our marriages to checking in our time spent in the virtual world to making our bedrooms a retreat, hanging out with Heidi is refreshingly real.

Of course, no feminine conversation is complete until we’ve covered the topic of communication in our relationships. Then the topic of Living Parallel Lives and what to do when one or both of you relate to the Homeschool Dad who said to his wife on her first day of homeschooling their kindergartner, “See you in twelve years.” The answer is found in the cord of three strands.

St. John speaks deeply, compassionately into the spaces where marriages are struggling. She is bold in her encouragement to stay alert and to rally. And she speaks healing for the brokenhearted. “All that we know to be true in times of rejoicing and all that we teach our children as we mentor and disciple them can easily be lost when trials come.”

She goes on to share the story of a difficult time in their marriage. She went to a trusted friend who said to her, “Heidi, you must learn never to question in the darkness what God has shown you to be true about Himself in the light.” Those words returned to her many times over the years.

The final chapter reads, “Chapter 10, Love for a Lifetime, The legacy of a real life romance, When the story of your family is finally written, what will the record show?” {smile} The Book Project #29.

We’re coming to the end of my books on marriage. There’s a handful more. That question… is it at the heart of all these books on marriage?

Rating: 3 out of 3 stars

*We got to hear Heidi St. John speak at a homeschool conference here in Germany in 2012. As down to earth in real life as she is in her book, she poured love and grace, laughter and epiphany into our souls.

I’ll never forget one story in which she told about her daughter waking her at eleven o’clock at night to ask her a very important question. “Mom, how will I know if I’ve found the one?” The audience broke into laughter. I thought to myself, my daughter’s only 11. It’ll be awhile before I get that question.

Then, one night, a year or so ago, my oldest son sat on the edge of my bed a little before midnight. “Mom,” he said, rousing me from sound sleep, “how will I know if I’ve found the one?” I smiled as I remembered Heidi’s story.