What Did You Expect Marriage is one of the most beautiful and at the same time one of the most challenging things you can ever be involved in throughout life. Often the man and the woman come into the covenant of marriage under the impression that everything will be chocolate and roses each and every single day. When disagreements arise and undoubtedly they will, those who are not prepared to understand the realities of living and growing with another individual within those bonds of covenant marriage will be in for a bit of a shocker. To deal with many of the misconceptions of marriage, noted author and speaker Paul David Tripp provides excellent marital insight in his book What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.

When it comes to books on marriage, even in the world of Christian books, there is certainly the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good seeks a sound biblical approach and a needed kick in the right direction. The bad might provide some practical steps to good marriages; however, the approach is only somewhat useful and only slightly roots its comments on biblical truth. The ugly simply regurgitates worldly concepts that do nothing to help the husband and wife or those considering marriage have any biblical grasp whatsoever of marriage. Tripp’s book resides in the excellent category meaning it is overwhelmingly biblical, practical, and provides that needed kick in the right direction that will help those who read it better grasp the dynamics of marriage.

As one who has been married for 11 years, I understand I continually get things more wrong than I get them right when it comes to marriage. I seem to continue to hold on to some misunderstandings of the marital relationship. As I read through this book, I was continually challenged to set aside my preconceptions and to embrace new realities, one’s based not on what I think should be true but rather concepts and principles that demonstrate how God desires a marriage to operate.

I greatly appreciated Tripp’s foundational statement on using Scripture to address matters of marriage: “Every passage imparts to us insight that is vital for a proper understanding of the passages that directly address marriage, and every passage tells us what we should expect as we deal with the comprehensive relationship of marriage.” This means for those men who wield the passage that notes wives should be submissive must first grasp the greater message of Scripture that provides the background for what assuredly is their out of context use of that passage on submission.

Tripp outlines six basic commitments of marriage that should form the foundation for a biblically rooted relationship between husband and wife. This is not a checklist that can be accomplished in a week thus solving every problem you may have in your marriage. These commitments will take a lifetime of effort from both husband and wife. As Tripp so aptly notes, “if you are going to have a marriage that lives in unity, understanding, and love, you must have a little moment approach to your marriage.” This approach understands that building a biblical foundation requires placing small bricks each and every day that will form the groundwork for a lifetime of growth together as a couple.

The six commitments Tripp provides outline the necessity of giving oneself to confession and forgiveness, growth as a couple by uprooting selfishness and planting seeds of unity, building the bonds of mutual trust, developing a relationship of love, dealing with the realities of having differences in a spirit of mercy and grace, and finally understanding the need to protect your marriage from the assault of the enemy. While I enjoyed all of these commitments, the one that spoke to me the greatest was the issue of protecting my marriage. There are times when married folk like to coast when it comes to their relationship. Whether that is a result of being involved in the daily grind or whether it is a result of not recognizing the constant need to work on your marriage, some seem to feel they have hit their stride and thus there is no movement forward in growth as a couple. This attitude can be dangerous. Furthermore, a marriage that becomes lackadaisical in matters of prayer, both individually and as a couple as well as becoming lazy in spending time rooted in God’s Word could easily find itself in trouble. Tripp saliently notes “Real marital unity begins when a husband and wife quite being kings and begin to willingly and joyfully submit to the plans, purposes, and call of the same King.” Point duly noted!

I highly recommend this book for all married couples, regardless of whether you have been married for 75 years and feel you have it all figured out. Additionally, this book should be mandatory reading for those considering marriage long before you may have even been led by God to your lifelong mate. The truths provided by Tripp in this book are biblical, practical, sorely needed in a world that completely misunderstands what marriage is all about, and most importantly, those who read this book will find themselves challenged to put God at the forefront of their marriage and to spend a life together glorifying God in the covenant of marriage.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

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