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It’s always a good thing to ask your spouse specific questions in a posture of humility and love. It’s a good thing to work on building up your relationship. It’s a good thing to spend time together, building into one another and learning how to make the other person feel loved.

Luke and I have always been passionate about striving to have a healthy marriage, and encouraging others to work toward that end as well. Ten years ago, we vowed to love and serve one another, with God as the head of our household, and sometimes it’s a lot of work. But let me tell you, a decade down the road, every ounce of effort has been worth it. We will never look back and regret time spent to strengthen the bonds between us.

And that’s why I chose to review this book. Because I’m always on the lookout for fun, creative ways to build up our relationship. So, let me tell you what I found…

When I began reading 10 Great Dates: Connecting Faith, Love, and Marriage by Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp, I had a hard time connecting to the authors. Honestly? I have read other marriage books, and none of this stuff was really new to me.

It also made a big difference that Luke and I are extremely compatible in the spiritual category of life. In fact, in our pre-marriage counseling, that’s the one category where we were 100% compatible. And that makes a HUGE (let me repeat….HUUUUUUUUGE) difference in our marriage.

I would definitely tell someone who is hoping to get married that it’s important to enjoy the other person, to have fun together, to laugh together…But the BIGGEST advice I’d give is to be sure that their spiritual views are very similar to, or the same as, yours. Our spiritual views shape our entire worldview, and that determines how we make decisions (big and small) in life. I’m telling you, this is HUGE.

So, back on track…The authors didn’t have quite the same experience and spent the beginning of the book talking about how they had trouble connecting spiritually as couples. Honestly? As much as I enjoy reading other couples’ relationship anecdotes, I felt like maybe this book was a waste of time. Not because we’re even close to perfect, but for once, this is an area where we’re doing okay. We haven’t always done things the right way, but over the years we have made it a habit to pray together daily, to read the Bible together daily, and to be very involved with our local church body. Those things have made a huge impact on our spiritual intimacy.

I think that if I had gotten this book out of the library, I might have just stopped reading at the introduction and taken it back. After all, if the section where the authors are trying to sell the book to me isn’t working, why bother? But really, the book did end up having some good, quality relationship advice / probing questions to help a developing relationship. So, whether you’ve been married 1 month, a year, or a decade, it might be worth a looksee.

The book has 10 chapters, and each chapter is formatted the same way:
-It begins with the bulk of the lesson, including relationship stories and the main point of the chapter. This is the part where you’ll really take away what you want to learn. I liked this section, but it was a little confusing having two couples narrate, since they went back and forth with their experiences.
-Then comes a section about preparing for your date, including a chapter summary (which Luke thought was helpful, since [let’s be honest here] he wouldn’t be inclined to read the whole chapter himself).
-Last in the chapter is a Post-Date Spiritual Discovery section, where you can spend about 15 minutes doing a couple’s devotional with your spouse, related to what you read in the chapter and discussed on your date.
-One of the most important parts of each chapter is actually located in the back of the book: two copies of a tear-out page with questions for each spouse to answer individually, then bring to your date and discuss.

Some sample questions:
-Describe the religious atmosphere in your home growing up.
-What has been your experience reading the Bible?
-What major storms have you faced in your life and marriage?

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So, in leiu of going on 10 dates with Luke before posting this review, I took the book to Mexico for our 10-year anniversary celebration. We spent some time looking through it and answering questions together. Not exactly the way the authors intended, but it gave us an idea of the book’s effect.

A vast majority of the questions were things we have already discussed, for instance, “Was a belief in God important in your family?” Because Christ is so much the center of our relationship, of course we had already discussed these basics.

However, I will say that it was quality time spent together with this book, lying on the beach in Mexico. Even if we knew most of each other’s answers, it was good to hear each other out and talk about our relationship.

My take-away from the experience was not a huge revelation. Rather, we will keep plugging away, serving Christ together and building up our relationship in every way we can.

Because it is so worth it.

{A note – another reviewer on Amazon said that this should be called “10 Great Discussions,” and I would second that. I was expecting actual date ideas (places to go, things to do), but this book solely focused on the discussion portion of the date. Be forewarned.}

{Disclaimer: Bethany House publishers provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. No positive comments were required. All opinions are my own.}