It “has its ups and downs, its ebb and flow, and it requires perseverance, hard work and from time to time a bit of help.”
That’s how Adam Hamilton describes the reality of marriage in his new book, Love to Stay, itself an effort to provide that “bit of help”, practical advice and encouragement for married couples or people contemplating marriage.
You can tell this issue is high on Hamilton’s list – Love to Stay is his second book dealing with the topic. In 2004 he published Making Love Last a Lifetime.
As in his earlier work, Hamilton provides a useful framework for examining the common issues in marriage (big and small) and strategies for working through them.
In Love to Stay he ends each chapter with suggested activities for couples, for individuals within a marriage and for single people. These sections are among the most valuable parts of this book.
He also draws on feedback and survey results from thousands of people to help illustrate some basic truths. The charts and graphs provide useful insights and help put many things into perspective.
One of my favorite pieces of wisdom in this book centers on keeping the long term view. “You do love until you feel love,” says Hamilton. “When it is difficult to feel love, the trick is to hold on to the knowledge that it will get better and not to do anything stupid in the meantime.”
He explores the little things (annoyances or habits) and the big things (emotional or physical abuse; addictions to drugs, alcohol or pornography; and infidelity) that can hurt marriages.
Hamilton states that his goal for the book is to offer an “honest, real and hope-filled picture of the blessings and challenges of marriage, and what it takes to make it work.”
I think he has succeeded in doing that.
The people who read the book may or may not succeed in building and sustaining a healthy marriage. Even with best intentions and seeking out guidance and support – “making love stay” is not a slam dunk proposition.
I know of at least two couples who participated in a study of his earlier book on marriage who have since divorced, despite good intentions and effort.
People (and spouses) are not perfect.
So, my advice is: if you are married, work at it (this book can help); celebrate the marriages that last; and be there for the people in marriages that don’t.
And remember the only love that consistently “stays” is God’s love for you.
But we can count on that. That is “love to stay.”
“For I am convinced,” Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us form the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Note: Abingdon Press provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. Graphic also used with permission.