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Do you have a coach for your marriage?
Physically, we have coaches and trainers who can help us improve our diet and exercise. But if we get hurt or sick we go to the doctor to get right again.
In marriage, it seems to me that we go to the doctor—the marriage counselor—when the marriage is hurt or sick. But we don’t even think about the coach, the one who can help us improve and grow, even if we are already healthy.
“Don’t marry someone you can live with; marry someone you can’t live without.”
That’s why I love Dr. Allen Hunt’s book The 21 Undeniable Secrets of Marriage. The book is like a coach and personal trainer for my marriage. It helps me get healthier, and I have heard testimonies from people who will tell you the book saved their marriage.
Whether you feel like you need that personal coach for your marriage or your marriage is really suffering, this book is worth the read. It’s filled with great stories that make it easy to read. It’s immensely helpful and practical. And the 21 secrets cover everything from your sex life to your prayer life.
Here are my three favorite secrets of marriage.
The message of this secret is clear: your spouse should be your best friend. This secret is just so practical and helpful. It details the five things we have in common with our best friends and shows us how to cultivate these in our marriage. It shares the research that shows the benefits of marrying your best friend and how building a relationship as best friends will carry you through the best and worst times of life.
This secret’s action step: Write a letter to your spouse. Share the parts of his or her personality and life that you love, admire, and respect the most. Give specific examples of times your spouse has enriched your life, stood by you as a best friend, spoken truth into you. Tell him or her, “You are my best friend.”
“Attention and affection work for a marriage like oxygen and water work for the human body.”
The message of this secret is simple—give your spouse your time, energy, and affection. But it’s the story that begins this chapter that I’ll never forget. The story tells of Dr. Hunt’s own parents’ dating relationship. The couple was living far apart because of school, so Dr. Hunt’s father would drive six hours each way every weekend just to see his mother. Talk about affection and attention. People are telling stories about how much this man loved his wife. I hope I can be a husband like that.
This secret’s action step: Sit together for fifteen minutes tonight. No cell phones. No laptops. No television in the background. No distractions. Share with each other the events of your day. Listen slowly to one another. Invest in a little attention and affection.
“When two become one, that ‘one’ has its own life.”
This secret gave clarity to something I knew but could never articulate: marriage is a relationship all to itself. There’s the husband. There’s the wife. Then there is the marriage. The family. The whole that is outside and greater than the parts. This secret inspired me to see that I could do nothing greater with my life than to give everything I have for the whole.
This secret’s action step: As a couple, discuss today how being a part of your family (whether as a couple or as a couple with children) makes you a-better-version-of-yourself. How does being a part of the whole help you become a holier person? Are there ways you sacrifice for the good of the greater “one”? Can you see times when doing so has not only helped the one but has also helped you?. . .
The books we read walk and talk with us everywhere we go. And this book is like having a great coach walk with me and encourage me to be a great husband. That’s why this is a book I will go back to again and again to remind myself how to love my wife, the importance of simple things, and to get help when I need it.