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Monday, July 6, 2015

"Marriage on the Mend" (Clint and Penny A. Bragg)

TITLE: Marriage on the Mend: Healing Your Relationship After Crisis, Separation, or Divorce
AUTHOR: Clint and Penny A. Bragg
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2015, (248 pages).

There is no perfect relationship on this earth. That applies especially to marriages, where divorces, separation, and marital breakdowns are increasingly on the rise. Generally, no one enters a marriage thinking that it will break down. What about those marriages that had already broken down? Is there hope after a painful divorce? Can a marriage in crisis ever be rescued? Are "irreconcilable differences" really that irreconcilable? These questions are answered with a powerful affirmative by marriage missionaries, Clint and Penny Bragg, who themselves were both divorced for eleven years. Their conviction is spelled out right at the beginning: "Every broken marriage has the hope of becoming a saved marriage." That is because God can reconcile marriages, no matter how painful and difficult it may be. Using their own divorce-marriage-recovery as a testimony, Clint and Penny have gone on to launch Inverse Ministries, based in Ormond Beach, Florida. It all began with one letter.

The authors say it well that if marriage is messy, trying to mend a broken marriage is messier. It is easier to fight than to give in. It is easier to take flight than to to forgive. The promise to readers is this: Every tool shared in the book has been put into practice by the couple, soaked in the waters of perseverance and trusted in faith to God. They seek to honour the process, both the pleasant and the unpleasant, to recognize the practical roadblocks for each person and to lay a firm foundation for recovery. Using the book of Nehemiah as the biblical guide, Clint and Penny make an honest inventory of their own roadblocks from as major as the selling of one's home to as ordinary as finding a Church home they can both agree on. The foundation agreed is the need to instill spiritual discipline and to anchor the relationship upon the Word of God. This is important. Very often, I have met couples who let experiences, histories, past hurts, and future promises to drive their marriage relationships. Not many of them would actually put and practice spiritual disciplines as the foundations. Those who try tend toward lip service. Here is the summary of the process:
  1. Begin with honouring the process
  2. Be honest about roadblocks of all kinds
  3. Build a strong foundation 
  4. Deepen the discussion of issues
  5. Start rebuilding once there is mutual trust
  6. Agree and Align on standards of communications and behavior
  7. Pray continually
  8. Guard the marriage gates
  9. Regularly retrofit the marriage
  10. Manage the Seven Margins / Focal Points
  11. Entering New Territories Together
If there is a twelfth step, I would recommend gratitude and appreciation for each other.  There are many wonderful books about revitalizing or restoring marriage. Some of the notable ones I have read are Gary Thomas's "The Sacred Search" which puts the renewed focus on the "why" rather than the who or what; the "Renovating Your Marriage Room by Room" which uses the metaphor of a house to renewing marriage; "Surviving the Affair" which looks at practical ways to piece together a broken marriage; and the "The Good Fight" which gives practical tips on how to fight well. This book is unique in the sense that it is based on the narrative story of Nehemiah, drawing principles from the whole book in establishing a process for a marriage on the mend. Besides, it is written by a couple who had personally went through a broken marriage that resulted in a divorce. Thankfully, the story does not end there. Instead, the authors tell their story of how they remarried and repented from their old ways. In telling their story of recovery, they give many struggling marriages much hope and faith. 

It is a cliche just to say that marriage is difficult. For marriages on the mend, couples would need constant encouragement to press on. They need a game plan to make it work. They need a divine guidance that is anchored on the solid Word of God. Plus, they need the assurance that these plans and tools are not ideas or concepts that are mere theoretical but immensely practical. What better assurance than to know that the authors had personally tried them and found them transferable. The world says give up but the authors say don't. The world claims there is a better way out there, but the authors affirm that the better way is from above. This world needs more hope that marriages can be salvaged. It needs more real examples. It also needs more inspiration that even though marriages in general are difficult, the resolve to overcome the difficulty will be far greater. Let this book instills hope, furnishes examples, and increases the resolve of more marriages both healthy or otherwise.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.


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