No one reads book reviews that are long and boring. I have made it my goal to briefly review each book that I put in my “what I’m reading” spot in my sidebar to the right. But only if its worth your time to read it.
What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp is basically a book that answers the question in the title. Allow me to offer a concise paraphrase of what the book is about. “You are a sinner married to a sinner, so don’t be surprised when it takes work to do marriage right. Learn about your sin and deal with it appropriately both with God and with your spouse.”
The book is arranged around 6 commitments or foundations for a healthy marriage.
- We will give ourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness
- We will make growth and change our daily agenda
- We will work together to build a sturdy bond of trust
- We will commit to building a relationship of love
- We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace
- We will work to protect our marriage
In his opening 4 chapters, Tripp provides a foundation for the remainder of the book. He devotes 2 chapters each to the above commitments. He doesn’t waste any time getting to the root of the marriage difficulties experienced by his readers. He starts with the basic assertion “you are a sinner married to a sinner.” As you can already discern, based on this premise, Tripp is interested in exposing the layer underneath the surface. In a sentence, this book is about the fundamental flaw in humans, and how it causes marriage difficulty. Sin causes problems, and as Tripp asserts, you must first fix your marriage vertically before you can fix it horizontally.
The cancer of unchecked sin in each spouse will continue to wreak havoc in the relationship in various ways. This book is about that cancer and how it works. He deals with motives of pride, self-righteousness, desire to control, and the underlying self-centeredness of what he calls “faux love.” Chapters 11 and 12 alone are worth the cost of the whole book.
I have two main critiques, both of which pale in comparison to the benefit gained from reading and re-reading it. My first critique is that I would prefer a little more discernible gospel presentation in the beginning. It is definitely there, and the book is based on it, but not necessarily simple enough for a seeker who doesn’t have much church background. My second critique is that the book seems a bit augmented. I find myself wanting a 15 page package of his main points, consolidated in a tangible way that I can use with my clients. So, I am making it myself. Over the next few weeks I will be consolidating this work chapter by chapter and perhaps utilizing it in session with couples.
This is one of the most unique marriage books I’ve read because it speaks to the deepest levels of my selfishness, self-righteousness and pride in the most important relationship in my human life. You won’t be disappointed.