Do you enjoy reading books about marriage and relationships? I know that I have always loved marriage and relationship books. My passion for learning about relationships started when I wanted to fix my parent’s marriage. Then, when my own relationships faltered, I needed help for myself. That is part of the reason that I ended up writing my own marriage book. Aside from all of that, I simply enjoy reading about relationships.
Best Marriage Book of all Time
In a recent interview, I was asked which three or four books I would take to a deserted island and chose the book, The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle, by Mike Mason.
When I bought this book years ago (that’s my slightly worn hard copy at the top of the post), I was unmarried and read the book with a sense of wonderment and anticipation. Several years later, I read the same pages after freshly marrying my now-husband. This time, I read the book with a sense of grim recognition. As the author described the difficulties and turmoils of married life, I nodded in relief at recognizing my relationship on the pages.
Two readings. Two very different responses. That is the beauty of this breathtaking work: it speaks to anyone on the marriage journey: to the one dreaming of marriage someday to the old man reflecting back on a life-long relationship. Anyone connected to marriage can learn from it. In fact, Mason actually wrote the book during his engagement, as a way to reassure himself that he was making the right decision.
How to Read This Book
- Read this book, expecting to be blown away by both the beauty and the painfulness of marriage. Mason doesn’t paint it all as a frolicking good time. No, he is raw and honest.
- Read this book as a meditation, not a manual. Don’t expect the book to tell you what to do in your marriage. But do expect it to help you remember the importance and enormity of your decision. To help you remember your priorities.
- Read this book randomly, if you like. You can open it anywhere and find depths of truth. Each chapter stands on its own. Of course, reading it in order will make sure you don’t miss anything but you don’t need to read it that way.
- Read this book slowly, and let it sink in. It is kind of like sipping on a rich cup of tea. Savour it. Indulge in it. Allow yourself to meditate on the miracle of marriage.
A Big Tree in the Middle of the Living Room
My favourite section of my favourite marriage book, Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle is when Mason compares marriage to a big tree that is sitting in the middle of your house. This image has always stayed with me. Here is a snippet:
A marriage, or marriage partner, can be compared to a giant tree growing right up through the centre of one’s living room. It is something that is just there, and it is huge, and everything has to be built around it, and wherever one happens to be going — to the fridge, to the bed, to the bathroom, to the front door — the tree has to be taken into account. It cannot be gone through; it must be respectfully be gone around. It is somehow bigger and stronger than one’s self.
What an amazing illustration to the “giving up” and sacrifice that we go through with marriage. Sometimes, that sense of giving is pure joy, while at other times, it seems beyond our capability.
Let’s Get Personal
Do you ever feel like marriage is just too much effort? I am going to get personal here. About six months ago, I found myself not wanting to do anything for my husband.
Any request, whether making coffee or running an errand, seemed to be an annoyance.
What caused this feeling? I am not sure — he had done nothing terrible. I was feeling tired and stressed and restless. During this time, our marriage really did feel like a big tree, standing in the way of my complete and utter freedom.
After nine years of marriage, we had worked through many issues but inside, I felt a bit trapped — in a rut, and grouchy! I was blowing up at him over trivial things. I would apologize but then do it again the next day. Has anyone else been there?
I did not enjoy being so difficult but once again, I had to make the decision, the commitment to love my husband and to die to living completely for myself. Notice, I didn’t say that I had to live completely for him, either. Marriage does not mean losing who we are but it does mean losing our utter selfishness. Easier said than done, sometimes.
The Most Important Thing …
Do you ever feel like your marriage (and family) asks too much of you? Do you feel torn between your spouse and other priorities? Mason addresses this issue head-on. He says, “Next to the love of God, the “one thing” that is by far, the most important in the life of all married people is their marriage, is their devotion to their partner.” Wow, strong words! Can we apply them to a second marriage?
Let’s face it. For those in second marriages, things are more complicated. It is so difficult to adjust to just one other person, as in a first marriage, but to adjust to children, too? It is challenging. Just as importantly, they must also adjust to us. How do we do it? That big tree planted smack right into the centre of our lives seems more like an insurmountable mountain.
So, what are we to do? With the complications, it can be overwhelming and it can feel like there is no time for the actual marriage. Marriage asks everything of us but so do the children. So, we commit to both with everything that we can and we keep going. It is a package deal. We are guaranteed to fail. Often. Stepfamilies really are the ultimate balancing act but we cannot choose between our spouse and the children. We must choose both, again and again.
In conclusion, I highly recommend the book, Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle. Five stars all the way! I have had the book in my possession for about fifteen years and have read it three times since buying it. I will most certainly read it again. If you read it, please share with me how you like it. Or alternatively, share your favourite marriage book with me below.
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Finally, I am considering creating a course for people in second marriage. Do you have any interest in courses on this topic? Please let me know, via the comment section or by email.
Thank you so much for reading and God bless you! Please comment in the section below and I promise to respond.