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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2013
First off, I thought this was a really informative advice with a lot of exercises and how-to so you could actually apply this advice to your life. It can sometimes be frustrating when you get advice from a book but have no idea how to apply it to your life and the book gives no examples.

This book is split up into 6 parts. Part one is 'Everybody Wins: Solving Conflicts without Arguing;. Part two is 'Home Improvements: Negotiating Change with Your Spouse. Part three is, ' Profit Sharing: Making Money an Asset in Your Marriage'. Part four is, 'Now What?: Marriage after the Children Arrive'. Part five is, 'Making Love: Making Sex an Act of Love' and part six is, 'In-Law Relationships: Becoming Friends with Your In-Laws'. Then each section was broken up into different chapters.

While overall this book was very good, I felt like I got tons out of some sections and not a lot out of others. The first section about conflict management was fantastic. It was chock full of advice and how-to and I really got a lot out of it. The section about making love fell completely flat for me. It felt like that section was just saying the same thing over and over in different ways. To be honest about mid way through the section I just started skimming.

One last thing I wanted to talk about was, his other book 'The Five Love Languages' is massively referenced in this book. While he does go over each love language in this book I think reading 'The Five Love Languages' first would probably have helped me more with this book.

Overall a very good read and stuffed with lots of practical advice that can help marriages.

I was given this book to review by Tyndale Publishers for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2012
"Why can't marriage always be like that?" We had just finished watching Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightley on New Years Day and were preparing for bed. My wife was deeply moved by the noble and passionate love of Mr. Darcy that is revealed in the end. I was mildly suspicious that this was a set up to expose my lack of romanticism. "Because it's unsustainable," I stated, a bit too matter-of-factly. This launched a conversation that spanned two nights in which we explored my wife's longing for and my own dismissal of this expression of love. It was a circuitous route, this conversation, but it arrived at a satisfying end. I discovered that I fear romanticism because I feel inept in expressing it. Sue realized that this longing is planted in her soul as something too big for marriage to fill - a longing only God can satisfy.

And this is our marriage - two people who love each other deeply but have much to learn about themselves and each other. Sometimes we stumble over each other's feet, and sometimes into each other's arms. Either way, this is a shared journey. In this case, the vulnerable and risky dialogue that paved the way for mutual insight was more than just dialougue - it was intimacy. One more log on the fire of love. A fire that sometimes blazes and other times smolders.

I have a marriage that most people would envy. It's not perfect, but it is durable. Sixteen years of marriage have weathered this relationship. Through the years our love has been pressed and twisted until well worn. It survived crisis that brought the relationship to the brink and led to a period of brief separation about five years ago. We have fought hard to preserve this union. We have the scars to prove it. But the tattered complexion of our love has resulted in a bond that only shared struggle can account for. There is security in a relationship that has been tested and tried.

I just finished reading Happily Ever After: Six Secrets to a Successful Marriage by Gary Chapman. I was sent a free review copy as part of the Tyndale Bloggers Network. The book is a fairly typical example of the marriage enrichment genre, one of the best I have read. It is organized around six major areas of focus: solving conflicts, negotiating change, handling money, raising children, sex, and in-laws. Each section is then broken down into seven or eight chapters dealing with one component of that topic. The chapters are short and straightforward. There are nuggets of insight that are worthwhile. Examples abound from Chapman's vast experience as a marriage counselor, putting flesh on otherwise theoretical abstracts. Each chapters closes with steps to put into practice what has been covered in the chapter. It's a very good book for what it does.

But this is where my history may cloud my review. I react against the glut of marriage books that focus on techniques. With all the emphasis on techniques, marriage is reduced to a skill set, akin to playing chess. Learn the rules, get some strategy, and you can win. But the hard scrabble of life is more dynamic than a chess game. To make techniques the focal point of the relationship, "the secrets to a successful marriage," is to cheapen the relationship.

Techniques are tools. Tools can be useful. But having the tools doesn't hinder these issues from continuing to infiltrate my marriage. Most of these principles were not new to me. Many of them fall under the heading of common sense. When discussing finances, Chapman instructs the reader to live within their means. In handling conflict he focuses on the importance of listening. This is not novel advice. But even familiar, common sense principles still trip me up. Knowing does not always equate to practicing. What saved my marriage and carried us through was not a battery of techniques. If our fundamental need was for techniques, then Scripture would read more like a marriage enrichment book. Instead, it focuses elsewhere.

So maybe there's just one secret to a successful marriage, though this is no more secret than the six Chapman covers. But indulge me for a moment. Grant me the leeway to unveil it with flourish, as if something new and novel. Gather round as I pull back the curtain on this profound insight. The secret (wink, wink) to a successful marriage is the ardent conviction that marriage is a sacred covenant. It is a holy relationship intended as a model and metaphor of another holy relationship - one even more intimate and hard won. It is a promise before God to be faithful to another. A promise not lightly entered, and not lightly broken. As such, it is worth fighting for. This is what held us together. Even when the relationship itself was quite ugly, we fought to restore it. It was a sacred ugliness that we would not give up on until all options has been exhausted. God honored our perseverance. Techniques were useful in fleshing that out, but always secondary to that bedrock resolve.

Marriage suffers when we downgrade it's holiness. Our rush to techniques feels to me like we are slipping toward this downgrade. Techniques are secondary. A devotion to covenant faithfulness is primary. Keep this in focus and Chapman's book can help fill your tool box. Keep this in focus and you will have a successful marriage. Keep this in focus and even "successful" will seem like a cheap word to attach to marriage. Better, marriage will be holy and blessed; a sacred ugliness transformed into sacred beauty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2013
Happily Ever After is a book that helps readers to solve conflicts in their marriage. We must learn to respect and listen to our spouses. We have to give up the selfish attitude and the perception that our point of view is the only correct one. If you want to change your spouse we have to realize we can't change others. The plank must be removed from our only eyes before we try and fix someone else. Gary Chapman encouraged readers to ask their parents, God, in-laws, friends, and their spouses how they could improve their relationship in their marriage. This is where you can see your flaws and the issues that you may have that hinder your relationships from growing. Then you must work to fix the issues that you find.

An important part of the book is finding out your love language. The five love languages are gifts, acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time. The book will describe and give an example of how each love languages work. Once you find how you receive and feel loved you need to discover your spouse’s love language. Then if you have children you may want to find out how your children receive and feel loved. This section will greatly mend your relationships.

Happily Ever After is divided into six parts, “Everybody Wins”, “Home Improvements”, Profits Sharing”, “Now What?”, “Making Love”, and “In-Law Relationships”.

Gary Chapman has also included discussion questions at the end of each chapter. The questions will help you to dig deeper into the book.

I would recommend this wonderful marriage book to improve and fix broken marriages. Anyone can benefit from learning their love language, their spouses, and their children love language. The book has provided me with great resources and ideas to resolve conflicts in my relationships. I have learned that I must fix and change myself before I try changing others. I am the only one that I can control. I can’t control others and their opinions. It’s important to stop arguing and listen to the other persons concerns. Marriage isn’t about being always right it’s about coming together for peace and harmony. Making love isn’t about just having sex it’s about showing each other love and respect. We have to learn to listen closely and understand how the other person feels and thinks. If you will apply these six secrets to your marriage it will change your marriage for the better. I am not married yet but when I am, I will be rereading this book to help me in my marriage. This is a great book to give to couples who are getting married or already married! I would also encourage both spouses to read the book together it help you in your marriage. Learn to enjoy each other!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2012
I read The Five Love Languages back in college, early in our marriage. It helped me gain an insight to my husband and has helped me to fill his love tank for 5 1/2 years. Gary Chapman wrote that book to help couples learn about one another and how best to love one another. In Happily Ever After, he strives to help married couples go from a place of strife to a place of love - to not just have a marriage but a happy one.

I enjoyed the first part of this book about conflict resolution. I come from a family that yells, Big A comes from a family that shuts down (this in the face of a disagreement). We both have had to work very hard to overcome this natural state when we disagree, but I will be the first to admit that I am the worse of the two. Arguing makes my blood boil and I can go from fine to really ticked off so quickly!! I've come a long way in 5 1/2 years, but there's still work to be done. I believe this book has helped me understand that I need to listen WAY more than talk (and not just in my marriage situation) and really listen. I need to understand what the other person is saying before I think about what I'm going to say, not be thinking of a comeback while they are speaking. Of course, I knew these things but sometimes it helps to see them in black and white.

The only part of Chapman's book that I disagreed with was the parenting/discipline of children chapters. They were obviously not written for the under 5 crowd. He says that children need to know why there are rules - I agree but my children (although I've told them) don't really understand yet. And I'm ok with that - they need to obey me. Chapman fails to realize that there are two schools (so to speak) of spanking. Reactive and thought out. I agree with him 100% when it comes to reactive spanking but he fails to take in that the Bible specifically calls for the "rod." As written in many James Dobson books and Shepherding a Child's Heart, spanking can be an effective tool, especially for the younger kids, in raising children with obedient hearts and bodies. Chapman, however, says that "it may be a reflection of a parent's unwillingness to invest time trying to teach the child obedience." I was so offended, I about put the book down there. I use that type of discipline to help my children better understand obedience. We talk plenty about obedience - why God wants us to obey our parents (so we can later obey Him), how it's safe to obey us. Chapman talks a lot about natural consequences, which I feel is a very effective tool paired with spanking and especially as children get older. If my boys can't share cars, cars get picked up. I don't use spanking in all situations but there is a time and place for it. I felt that Chapman should stick with marriage and relationship tools because he did not speak to parents of young children in these chapters. I did agree with this statement from the book: "Threats confuse a child; consistent action gives the child security."

I'll be honest, after these parenting chapters, I droned out of the book. I read it but not much of it sank in. He insulted my way of parenting, a way of parenting that I have already seen blessings of. The rest of the book is really filled with good tips on budgeting and managing your money as a couple, making love during marriage out of respect and love for the other person.

The last chapters about in-law relationships held some very good advice. I'm trying very hard to use this advice to build up my relationship with Big A's parents. I'm going to try to really understand them and listen. I even called my MIL yesterday to try to set up a time when I could bring the kids to see her (didn't work out but I tried). That was a big step for me.

Overall, this book is a good start to living Happily Ever After. I think that it would make a lovely wedding or shower gift for a bride-to-be.
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33 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2011
I recently received a copy of the marriage book by Gary Chapman, entitled Happily Ever After: Six Secrets to a Successful Marriage. I haven't read any of his other books, although The Five Love Languages has been highly recommended by more than one of my friends. That concept intrigues me and I requested this book because I hoped that it was full of solid, Christian advice for my marriage.

My first impression was that the cover was very pretty, and each chapter is divided by the same flowery fleur de lis (yes, I know what I just did) style decoration. Almost like fancy wedding wallpaper. Before I digress too far, I will continue. The book consists of six sections, each divided into more detailed chapters, and some additional tools and resources found in the very back. The sections cover how to solve conflicts, negotiating change, finances, marriage after children, love and sex, and in-law relationships. Off to a good start and certainly the key topics for any marriage.

My second impression was that Dr. Chapman has a somewhat formal writing style. It was hard for me to get into the first chapter because it seemed like his writing was full of overly large words. I understood him, and I liked the way he wrote, but I also felt like his style of writing would turn off a large portion of readers. Unless they had a dictionary or thesaurus handy. Dr. Chapman's dialogue also felt stiff and overly formal. In retellings of how couples spoke to him and about each other in counseling sessions, I had to assume that he was not giving verbatim recounts. Often the dialogue seemed scripted and unrealistic. When I am reading a marriage book, I want a situation that I can identify with, not one that feels "fake" or overly clinical.

My final impression, and one that cinched the deal for me, was chapter 6 in part 5, "Love Inflicts No Pain." By that point, it was increasingly obvious to me that Gary Chapman's target audience is the middle to upper middle class Christian couple. But, regardless of who the target audience is, being from a social work field and working with women (and men) who have suffered through domestic violence, it really irked me when I read that chapter. Not only did it seem that he minimized physical and sexual abuse, but he did not once give a disclaimer regarding personal safety and ways to seek help if you are in a violent relationship. This attitude, and the lack of recognition of this issue, only instigates the stereotypes that I hear about Christian pastors and marriage counselors who never condone divorce or separation, even in extreme circumstances of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

Truthfully, I sometimes roll my eyes at those disclaimers that give people a hotline number, but when I read this, I realized why they are so important. Violence in any relationship is never acceptable, and I would have respected the advice from Dr. Chapman's book much more if he would have taken the time to affirm that there are violent relationships where it is encouraged and expected that the victim seek help and get out of the relationship when possible. I realize and appreciate that a husband or wife is to be Christ to their spouse and to love and forgive them unconditionally. But I do not, and will never, feel that God expects one of His children to remain in a relationship where they are being physically or sexually abused. Sometimes, until a spouse truly changes, it is better and safer, for the other half to leave. A true Christian does not abuse their spouse. I wish Dr. Chapman would have made that affirmation clear in this book.

I might recommend this book to two married Christians in an otherwise healthy relationship. For my marriage, personally, I feel that there are some good points and discussion topics that my husband and I could talk about. However, due to Dr. Chapman's disregard for the very real dangers of domestic violence, I would not recommend this book in any other situation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Tyndale House Publishers blogging for books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One of the best ways to improve your marriage is to read lots of marriage books. You can really transform your life as each book has specific details that will give you insight into your relationship. The problem with marriage is that two imperfect people are joined together and then must live in an imperfect world. This book explains many of the problems that can occur and shows how to solve them.

Gary Chapman is a counselor who has been taking great notes. He easily recognizes the cause of conflict and believes the key to a good marriage is understanding your partner. He emphasizes the importance of listening skills, briefly covers love languages, talks about the four seasons of marriage and explains how to improve in-law relationships.

Do you wish your spouse would change?
What can you do to save a marriage?
What are the secrets to a meaningful relationship?
How can you kindle desire in your spouse?

Gary Chapman answers many pertinent questions and also gets down to the heart of the matter. His discussions of how we should take responsibility and ask for forgiveness can produce profoundly positive results. If you feel that your spouse is your enemy you will especially benefit from reading this book. Gary teaches you how to get a loving response but it might take a bit of work.

One of the best sections of the book is on parenting. The idea is that if you make raising children less stressful you will have a better marriage. There is some very clever parenting advice which will solve problems fast. If you are thinking of having children or already have them the section on how children affect a marriage is well worth reading.

I disagreed with a few things in this book. I believe you should have joint and separate bank accounts. The problem often is that one spouse is a spender and one is a saver. While Gary Chapman believes a husband and wife should be able to spend some money without always being accountable for it I think having a separate bank account would make things easier.

While this book is mostly serious there are some funny stories. This book is 5642 locations long so it is a book that is going to take quite a few days to read. The journey is however well worth it. You will learn valuable skills, especially how to make your spouse your friend again. Highly Recommended!

~The Rebecca Review
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2012
In 1992, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote the landmark book, The Five Love Languages. He sold over six million copies. As a relationship counselor for more than 30 years, Chapman has worked in the trenches with thousands of couples, while maintaining a successful marriage himself and raising two children.

In his most recent book, Happily Ever After: Six secrets to a Successful Marriage, Dr. Chapman outlines the six most common problems marriages face and gives practical insights on how to successfully navigate through the issues.

The book is an A to Z marriage primer, boasting 370 pages of relevant information for any married person. This would be a great book to give a newlywed couple; but it's equally as valuable for couples who've been together for decades.

Dr. Chapman tackles the most delicate topics in marriage from sexual intimacy to problems with the in-laws. If it causes conflict in marriage, it's in this book!

At the end of the book, there are several bonus tool sections. One is titled, How to Get Your Spouse to Change without Manipulation. Another section has two parts: one is a collection of what husbands have said when asked the question, "What would you like to see your wife change?" And the other: a collection of what wives say when asked, "What would you like to see your husband change?" It's like a candid list of the things that might drive your spouse up the wall - but things he or she would probably never dream of actually saying.

Dr. Chapman also gives a list of suggested resources for couples from how to handle money to how to enhance sexual fulfillment in a marriage.
This is a must-read for people who want to keep their nuptials fresh and alive. In this season of romantic love, give your marriage a tune-up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Happily Ever After: Six Secrets to a Successful Marriage by Gary Chapman is a thorough and realistic book on Christian marriage. I have read a lot read a number of Christian marriage books, most of which are more hurtful than helpful (like the one that said if the wife wants to make love more than the husband and it's causing a problem in the marriage, it's obviously the wife's fault because if the she was a better wife, her husband would want to have sex with her all the time...really?). I have also read a number of books by Gary Chapman (The Five Love Languages is a classic, to be put on the level of Mere Christianity and The Pilgrim's Progress...seriously). If anyone is able to right the wrongs done by hundreds of horrendous Christian marriage books, it would have to be Gary Chapman. And I have to say, with this book, he did a pretty good job.

The book focuses on six common issues in marriage and very thoroughly digs through each, using scripture, real life stories and good counseling advice, to bring as much insight and applicable information to the reader. The advice he gives is realistic and achievable, applying to a broad cross section of Christian couples. This book, along with The Five Love Languages, would make an excellent wedding gift for any Christian couple. In fact, it is so clear and practical that it may even make a good gift for a non-Christian.

Lastly, and this is a side note, just a personal preference...there is something about this book that feels good in my hands. I know, a bizarre thing to make a comment on in a review, but I'm a very physical, tactile person and it is so enjoyable to read a book that feels good, is sized well and has a comforting texture. I may be the only person in the world that cares about that, but in the event someone else out there shares in my idiosyncrasy, I thought I'd pass on the info.

I was given a preview copy of this book from Tyndale House in return for my honest review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2012
Review: 4 Stars

No Marriage is ever perfect. None. (But, thank the good Lord - mine is very close!) Now that we got that outta the way, let me say:
'Happily Ever After: Six Secrets to a Successful Marriage' by Gary Chapman is a thorough and realistic book. Dr. Chapman is upfront and open, using scripture, real life stories and good counseling advice, bringing to light the issues that come up most often in marriages, - including money, in-laws, kids & yes, sex!
Dr. Chapman addresses the six most common problems that couples experience in their marriage which include fighting fair & negotiating, managing money, raising kids, a healthy sex life, and getting along with in-laws....... something I still have a need of improvement on!
Each chapter ends with "assignments" and discussion questions which will help you to dig deeper into the book, to work on that particular problem, whether together with your spouse or independently.
The book also deals with finding your love language. The five love languages are gifts, acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time. The book describes and gives an example of how each love language works, and encourages you to discover your spouse and your kids love language also.
I consider this to be a proactive book that one who is newly engaged or married could read and avoid trouble down the road, taking steps to incorporate the advice he gives. It is a book I would recommend for anyone who wants to improve their marriage......even an almost perfect marriage like my own!

[Book provided by Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review - All thoughts are my own.]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2012
I recently read Happily Ever After by Gary Chapman. The book is by an author that I have enjoyed many titles from. I read this book looking forward to more good advice. I was not disappointed. I feel this book is a culmination of all his other great books. It had highlights from his other books along with more great new advice to benefit anyone no matter what season of marriage he or she is in.
The book is broken up into chapters that each deal with a different area of marriage and family. One can skip to the section that would be of most benefit at the time or can read the whole book to get oodles of good advice. I like how each chapter has a review of the concepts shared and also has action steps that one can start applying right away. I have taught marriage classes to a military ladies groups for the last 10 years and this will be a great book to teach in the near future because of how all inclusive it is in dealing with situations that all married couples face.
This book is a must for anyone. I think it would even be great to give as a wedding gift to a newly married couple. I will be purchasing a few copies to share. I have already purchased the audio version so I can share it with my hubby when we are riding in the car. The audio version has a pdf file with it that contains all the additional tools and resources that make the book so wonderful.
I was given a copy of this book to review by Tyndale.
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