I PROMISE YOU: Preparing for a Marriage That Will Last a Lifetime
Willard F. Harley, Jr.
Love & Marriage
Willard F. Harley, Jr., marriage counselor and author of the bestsellers HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS and DEFENDING TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE, has now written a practical resource for soon-to-be-married couples. As Christian men and women make wedding preparations, Harley offers specific biblical principles and suggestions to get ready for the commitment of marriage. Underscoring the four key promises he believes are essential to a marriage characterized by lasting fulfillment and "happiness," readers will discover simple yet time-tested ways to demonstrate their love daily.
The author reminds engaged couples that the promises they make before a minister, family and friends on their wedding day are meant to endure their entire lives. He challenges men and women to understand first the permanency of this commitment and then expounds upon the individual promises chapter by chapter and how each works itself out in everyday life. Harley details the absolute necessity of providing care, protection, honesty and time to one's future spouse. Building upon this framework, couples can enter marriage with fuller understanding, more realistic expectations and valuable experience.
Opening his text with an introductory chapter on why people fall in love in the first place, Harley coins the phrase "Love Bank," which he says is our emotional barometer that leads us to either like or love a person depending on the "deposits" made. Or, contrarily, will lead us to dislike or hate someone if too many "withdrawals" occur. Harley explains that prior to marrying, couples learn how to make deposits by offering care, protection, honesty and time, and then frequently neglect these key principles after the ceremony. When this happens, couples mistakenly believe they have fallen out of love, when in fact the feelings alter because the promises have been broken or ignored. Every couple can experience lasting romantic love throughout their lifetime, asserts Harley, if they're willing to build upon these four promises.
Another misstep common to married couples is assuming that one partner should demonstrate care to his spouse in the manner he most appreciates. Harley admits that caring is an art and one must study another person's likes and dislikes in preparing to "care" for them in ways that they prefer and appreciate. Over the years, Harley has compiled a basic list of the top emotional needs for men and women: affection, sexual fulfillment, intimate conversation, recreational companionship, honesty and openness, physical attractiveness, financial support, domestic support, family commitment, and admiration. The trick is learning which are deemed most valuable by your spouse and then fulfilling them.
In addition to his recommended steps to adopting the four key promises, Harley includes lengthy self-tests, charts and emotional needs forms for couples to study together and then discuss. With detailed questionnaires, engaged men and women will have further opportunity to evaluate their own personal history and that of their future spouses. Here, Harley has unpacked some of the mystery to successful marriages while offering substantial direction and specific tools for strengthening the relational bond between engaged couples.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
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