Marriage Without Pretending (by Anne Townsend)

This is a fairly light-weight book about marriage, which I first read over 20 years ago but haven't picked up since. Anne Townsend has written several books in this series, which I find well-written and full of insight.

Sure enough, 'Marriage Without Pretending' contains several clear and positive chapters covering various topics in marriage, from 'Why get married' to 'What happens when it goes wrong?'. She shatters the myth that Christian marriage is always successful, or that a couple simply need to pray more if things are going wrong. She points out the dangers of complacency, the stresses that come with children, the necessity for complete honesty and sensitive role-allocation, and the problems of over-committed church members who spend little time with their spouses.

There are plenty of anecdotes, mostly based on real situations (with names changed) illustrating the various points. The author doesn't give any easy answers, although she sometimes points out where people started to go wrong, or where changes could have been made. But the overall effect is of shared confidences rather than preaching or strong advice.

Ideal for anyone considering marriage, or newly married and finding life rather more stressful than expected. Even knowing that problems are 'normal' can be a huge relief to someone struggling to maintain a positive image, particularly in the church.

On the other hand, there wasn't much in the book for someone married long-term, other than warnings not to take each other for granted. Recommended for young couples, particularly those who want something short and concise, but not really for repeated reading.

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