Loving Against the Odds (by Rob Parsons)

We have several books on marriage, which I delve into from time to time, but I count 'Loving Against the Odds' as one of my favourites. This book by Rob Parsons was apparently written after a series of videos (in the 1980s) but is entirely complete in itself. He speaks from experience, both in his own marriage and in speaking at seminars, and counselling numbers of people going through difficulties.

It's not really a book for those just starting out, and while it would be ideal for those having immense problems, perhaps even considering separation, I doubt if many in that category would resort to a book. But for those in the majority or marriages, with some good and some not-so-good, this is a down-to-earth, encouraging and inspiring book.

Parsons takes as his main theme the idea that communication is of supreme importance in any relationship. This is nothing new, but he presents his suggestions alongside personal anecdotes, and also some examples given (with permission and name changes) by those he has met, or who have written to him. He not only gives advice about how to improve communication, but examples of what can go wrong, and why. He is never condemning, acknowledges that in some degree communication difficulties can (and probably do) happen to anyone, and yet strongly believes that with only a few minor changes, any marriage can grow more positive.

There are chapters on fighting and arguing (which he encourages, rather than holding in resentments), a chapter on finance and how to begin to cope with debt, chapters about intimacy and the dangers posed by affairs. He even describes how easy it can be for even a reasonably contented person to fall into danger, beginning with an apparently innocent friendship.

The author is a Christian, and quotes Biblical examples and principles from time to time, but only in context of what he's saying and without any 'preaching'. I doubt if what he says would be offensive to anyone, as it's all written from such a personal and encouraging viewpoint, acknowledging many failures and mistakes in his own marriage.

All in all, highly recommended.

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