Genuine, accessible advice on strengthening a marriage through communication.
The Fontanas’ debut relationship title delivers a powerful message: “When a marriage succeeds, the nation succeeds. Strong marriages, including yours, are good for EVERYONE!” The authors then explain how. Each chapter after the first explores a relevant topic and presents accompanying worksheets for couples to fill out and discuss. Topics range from the obvious—children, money, sex, etc.—to deeper issues such as different communication styles. The Fontanas include extensive, broadly applicable discussion questions and worksheets for newly married couples, those considering marriage and partners experiencing a rough patch. Nontraditional couples remain unmentioned, and same-sex attraction is only addressed as a potential “issue” to “overcome.” The Fontanas write from a Catholic perspective; they recommend natural family planning and barely explore other pregnancy strategies. They frequently remind readers of their obligations to charity and community service, and a chapter highlights marriage vows in relation to the church and a couple’s obligations to their religious community. Despite such an obvious religious perspective, a friendly and welcoming charm pervades each section. Even the chapter on sex within marriage doesn’t shy away from issues of satisfaction and mutual understanding of each other’s particular needs. Of particular interest is the authors’ emphasis on what they term “a straight message”—clear, nonjudgmental language to convey information, especially with regard to sensitive or controversial topics for the couple. Another sharp insight suggests that clear communication can be subconsciously impeded when couples don’t understand the differing ways they prefer to be loved. Without realizing it, a person will usually show love to his or her spouse in the manner he or she wishes to receive love rather than the style of loving to which the partner responds best: through kindness, for example, or through spending time together or touch. The simple exercises here should bring couples closer by helping them learn about each other and themselves in life and love.
A celebration of marriage, narrowly defined.