Though I have not yet met Dorothy in person, we have come to know each other in that crazy online fashion that happens these days. She is a fellow Christianity Today Women writer, and as a mom of three boys like me, I feel a certain kinship to her.
In the following interview, Greco speaks of her new book Making Marriage Beautiful. A book that has been ruminating and growing in her mind for 25 years of marriage. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into the book. (And then head over to amazon to pre-order it!)
How is your book different from other marriage books out there?
So glad you asked this question! Making Marriage Beautiful is truly unlike many other marriage books. First, it’s written by a woman to both men and women. This is almost unheard of. Adding Christopher’s words and the eight other husbands ensures that men are well represented. Second, the book contains very vulnerable, real-life stories. Most authors who write about marriage tend not to be as honest as Christopher and I chose to be. I think readers will easily engage and trust me because I’m choosing to trust them. Finally, I refuse to depend upon cliches or formulas. There’s no chapter titled, Ten Steps to a Perfect Marriage! Marriage and transformation is a process and my goal in writing this book is to help men and women navigate that process well. For the long haul.
Why did you write this book?
Everyone who says “I do!” wants a great marriage. I truly believe that this book will help husbands and wives achieve that goal. There’s no such thing as too much support or encouragement when you’re married. We all know, creating and sustaining a great marriage requires time, intentionality, and sacrifice. After doing more than twenty years of pastoral care and being married for twenty-five years, it was obvious to me that married couples are hungry for help, hope, and wisdom. I addressed these needs as I wrote Making Marriage Beautiful.
To clarify: I did not write this book because we have a perfect marriage or because I am a marriage expert. I wrote the book because my husband and I needed it. Due to some circumstances beyond our control, life got very difficult four years ago. As we struggled to love each other, I started thinking about what differentiates a joyful, dynamic marriage from a frustrating, unhappy one. Ideas started flowing and I broached the topic with Christopher. It would have been awesome to write the book together but he works two jobs and is finishing his graduate degree so that was not going to happen. Instead, I brought his voice in for most chapters.
Who do you hope will read it? Who is the target audience?
Making Marriage Beautiful will speak to couples who have been married three weeks or thirty years. It was written with your average husband and wife who long to create and sustain a truly healthy, joyful marriage. Maybe they’re stuck, maybe they’re doing OK, and maybe they’re actually doing really well but want to be proactive. I’m confident that if newlyweds put the spiritual disciplines that I discuss into practice, they will create a solid foundation. This was not written specifically for couples who are in a full-blown crises though I do think they would benefit from it.
Because diversity is super important to me, I interviewed eight couples to make sure that our voices were not the only ones that readers would hear. This means diversity of age, race, and economics.
Finally, I don’t think you have to be a person of faith to enjoy or find encouragement from Making Marriage Beautiful but it is unabashedly written from a faith perspective.
Is this a book meant to be read by individuals? Couples? Small groups? Are there discussion questions or is there an available study guide?
I think the best case scenario would be for a wife and husband to read this together, slowly, and really go deep. Reading it out loud together and then taking the time to answer the questions at the end of each chapter would be terrific. That said, if only one of you is interested in reading it, you would still benefit and be encouraged.
At the end of each chapter, there are four or five questions. These are not simplistic or extraneous. If you spend time on them, they will bring further insight and clarity. I’ve worked as a journalist for more than thirty years and have been running long-term healing and discipleship groups for twenty. That means I know how to ask good questions!
The book would work great in the context of a small group with other married couples. There will be guidelines on my website for running small groups.
What qualifies you to write this book?
Twenty-five years of being married to the same man. Twenty-five years of growing together. Twenty-five years of learning how to love. Seriously. Additionally, I have worked as a journalist for more than thirty years. I know how to listen to people and make sense of events. Together, Christopher and I have been running long-term healing and discipleship groups in church setting for more than twenty-years. Christopher is almost done getting his graduate degree in marriage and family therapy. We understand people. We understand the struggles inherent to humanity and marriage in particular. And as you read the book, you’ll discover that we’re willing to be incredibly honest about our own struggles. I think our honesty helps folks to trust us which makes for a better read.
What’s the difference between a happy marriage and a joyful marriage?
Chapter 9 is devoted to this topic. I see happy as dependent upon circumstances and more prone to wild fluctuations. Joy runs deep. It’s transcendent because it’s a gift from God. Being joyful does not mean that we are in denial or refuse to grieve. In fact, as one of the couples noted, joy and grief are the same muscle. Happiness is often a high priority for many Americans. I think God calls us to go deeper. And we’ll be better people when we do.
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