Beyond Ordinary: when a good marriage just isn’t good enough
For many of us there is a gap between the marriage we have and the marriage we thought we would have. Sometimes the gap is created by unrealistic dreams and expectations. But more often that gap is created by a subtle equation that defines many marriages:
Time + unintentionality = ordinary marriage.
It isn’t that we intend to drift away from our spouses, but over time it just happens.
Is your marriage extraordinary today? Or are you miles away from those early feelings, hopes, and dreams? Even the healthiest marriages have the potential to drift.
In their opening page I believe that Justin and Trisha Davis have accurately identified one of the core issues that most marriages are facing today…that is the inevitable drift that occurs between two people in a relationship and leads to ordinary marriages. And ordinary marriages lead to all kinds of disconnection (physical, emotional, relational and spiritual) and all kinds of devastation (affairs, addictions to substances and pornography, depression, anxiety).
As a licensed marriage and family therapist and pastor I have the privilege of working with couples in all stages of marriage, but one of the most dangerous places for many married couples to be in is that stage of co-existing where they feel things are going good, but little do they know they are slowly drifting apart. It’s not uncommon for a couple to show up in my office, only to lament that one of them wanted to do counseling years ago, but their partner thought their marriage was good. Only now a crisis has brought them into my office.
I’m not quite sure when I first heard of Justin and Trisha Davis. I think it all started when some online mutual friends began talking more and more frequently about the awesome marriage ministry that Justin and Trisha had launched in Nashville, TN, and over time I slowly began to hear more and more about RefineUs.org and the wonderful work that they were doing. That led to me visiting their blog on a regular basis. And the more I visited their blog and discovered the marriage work that they were doing, the more I began to discuss and talk about many of their ideas with the couples that I work with.
This is why I’m so thankful for the release of their new book, Beyond Ordinary: when a good marriage just isn’t good enough. Justin and Trisha have put together in a compelling narrative the ideas and practical tools that lead to a marriage that is not just good, but that is thriving. And what I like most about the book is that embedded in the narrative is their personal story of the disconnection and devastation that many couples face when they fail to heed the warning signs of a marriage adrift. This is not just another couple who is telling you what a healthy marriage looks like, but they bring you into the unhealthy trenches of their own marriage and help you discover how your marriage too can emerge out of the trenches and into a new life.
One thing that makes this book very unique is that Justin and Trisha have chosen to do something that you don’t find in any other marriage book that I can think of: in each of the 12 chapters they each tell their side of marriage in a compelling ‘he said, she said’ account, but then come together in the chapter and share as a couple. Visually their presentation reminds me of my experience of many couples in therapy – each come into therapy wanting to share their side, but eventually they have to work as a team to create and live out a healthy marriage.
I recommend this book for any couple who wants to move their marriage from good to great, and I especially recommend it for people who have gone through an affair and are hoping for restoration. More importantly, this book will help you become aware of some potential unhealthy boundaries in your marriage, in order that you can create some healthy boundaries that each marriage needs if they are going to avoid an affair themselves. I am grateful to be able to write an endorsement for this book because I believe that Justin and Trisha do a great job of demonstrating what it looks like for each partner in a marriage to take responsibility for themselves in order to create a thriving one. It’s a picture of an intentional marriage that is not content for ordinary, but in all things strives to live an extraordinary one. And with their suggestions at the end of each chapter I think this also makes a great book for couple’s groups.
Usually at the end of a counseling session with a couple I make a few recommendations for growth. So I too want to recommend a few things for you.
I recommend you watch their book trailer.
I recommend you order the book here.
I recommend that you start reading their blog at refineus.org if aren’t already.