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Marriage isn't exactly a fairytale, is it? Sure, before we are married, the fairytale scenarios dance happily through our minds, almost to the point that we think our marriage will be completely immune to the challenges that plague other marriages.
But after we are married? Well, we soon discover that marriage and fairytale shouldn't even hang out in the same sentence, let alone served up as a likely possibility. (Wedding and fairytale, maybe. But marriage and fairytale? No way).
Having had a failed marriage and now living within a second marriage, I certainly am not naive about the sometimes tedious and treacherous journey of marriage. And I appreciate others who aren't afraid to speak out of their own experience as to how downright hard marriage can be.
This is probably why Alisa Bowman's new book "Project: Happily Ever After -- Saving Your Marriage When the Fairytale Falters" resonates with me. She speaks her story, in her words, shedding light on a feeling that is probably more common than any married person cares to admit -- "I just want out."
Bowman looked closely at that feeling in her own heart, but instead of bailing on her marriage, she took an even more radical approach -- she set out on a path to make her marriage better. "Project: Happily Ever After" details that experience, what it taught her and how what she learned may be helpful to others.
If you are looking for a book that just scratches the surface of the emotions and thoughts that crop up in a marriage on the brink of imploding, then this is not the book for you. Bowman doesn't shy away from the raw pain, horrible thoughts and real experiences that almost ended their marriage.
Because most of you reading this blog are Christians, I should add that this book isn't marketed primarily for the Christian market (there are plenty of books out there targeted specifically at that niche, but this book is written for a broader married market). Bowman describes her target audience as women who are unhappily married, "age 30-55 and the parents of children who are still at home."
I know many of you have heard my mantra so often that you probably grow weary of it -- Glean. Glean. Glean. Not every thing in every marriage book is going to apply to your situation or resonate with your beliefs. (There are a few things in this book that don't jive with my beliefs). But this book certainly holds some insights that could benefit anyone who has ever entertained the "I just want out" feeling.
Wouldn't it be nice if marriage began on the fairytale note and never wavered? Possibly. But I think there is greater hope and encouragement in a more plausible trek -- instead of getting stuck at a place of dreaming of a difficult marriage ending (either through death or divorce), a person chooses instead to imagine marriage in a healthier light.
What if each of us -- as far as we are concerned -- did what we could, not only to sustain our marriage, but also to strengthen it? That is the message I took away from Bowman's personal story. I have no doubt this book will compel its readers to take stock of their marriages -- and to walk in the direction of hope, instead of stay paralyzed in a place of despair.