From Me to Us, by April Crimbley
My review: ★★★★
While this book is only about 150 pages long, it packs a lot into those pages. In each section, there are full explanations of concepts, with examples of relationships where the concepts are important. Then each section has a set of prompts to think about and/or discuss with your spouse. It’s not pushing particular practices or values on you; rather it is asking you to think about your own values, and to discuss with your spouse how your values compare.
The concepts and prompts in this book are very important for entering into and maintaining a good relationship. This book promotes a lot of vital thinking and discussion. The best way to get value out of it is to take your time and read it thoughtfully.
The “4 Steps,” by the way, are:
- Know yourself
- Know your spouse
- Shift your mindset for married life
- Prepare for lifelong intimacy
The first two sections are great for making sure you and your spouse are ready for marriage. The third section helps you smooth out the transitions you’ll need to make, like changing your daily habits, merging finances, and living together in the same space. The final section helps you work through the often initially uncomfortable steps of achieving spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical intimacy.
I’m going to be honest here – I struggled a little bit with reviewing this book. There is a lot of really good information in this book, along with what I truly consider to be really important prompts for introspection and conversation with your new spouse. But it is not the perfect book *for me*. I spent some time trying to decide why, and I realized that a big part of my reaction is because I’ve already been married for over a decade, and because my husband and I went through a relationship/marriage preparation retreat before our wedding. Many of the kinds of questions you end up answering for yourself in this book, we discussed on that retreat. When my marriage was looming large in my future, I was hungry for the kind of guidance in this book. Now, in my current situation, I find myself instantly agreeing with the author on presented concepts, then impatiently skimming the reinforcing details, and finally spending time on prompts for introspection. None of that says ANYTHING negative about this book – in fact my own experiences reinforce everything the author says. There’s a lot of wisdom in these pages. So I wrote the above review keeping in mind the person I was and what state I was in at the time when I was entering into my own marriage, and ignoring the impatience that snuck into my reactions reading it now. What might have been more useful for me – or for readers with similar impatience – would be a workbook format with the same thought exercises in the first 2 chapters, a very brief synopsis of the 3rd chapter, and a good read-through of the 4th chapter.
That makes me want to conclude by listing the readers who will benefit most from reading this book: I think it will be most valuable to engaged or newly married people, or those who are trying to get through struggles in their marriage. I would encourage you to read it together with your fiancee or spouse if possible. Though you can still benefit a lot even if only one of you reads it.