Write 2 pages with APA style on Analysis of Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Les and Leslie Parrott. Book Review Parrott, L III, and Parrott L. (1995) Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before (And After) You Marry. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. 158pp.

This short book by Les and Leslie Parrott is a self-help book for people who are considering marriage, or who are already married and may be looking for ways to improve their marriage. The authors are a married couple, consisting of a psychologist and a marriage guidance counsellor, and their professional expertise is evident from the way the book is written. The main approach is to tell anecdotes about people, their problems, and how they resolve them. Most of the names are pseudonyms, presumably to protect the confidentiality of information obtained in the course of therapy or counselling.

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The book is structured around seven questions such as, for example “Can You Identify Your Love Style?” (p. 31) or “Have You Bridged the Gender Gap?” (p. 91). These questions lead into thematic discussion around each specific issue. They are not the most obvious questions that one might think to ask, but they do proved a useful structure for the book. The first chapter deals with the “Myths of Marriage”, or in other words, the unrealistic expectations that newly married couples often have of marriage and of each other. The advice given is low key and sensible, such as for example making unexpressed rules and wishes explicit so that each party knows what the other expects.

One of the weaknesses of the book is that it tends to be very simplistic in its approach. In chapter 3, for example, the question being addressed is “Have You Developed the Habit of Happiness? (p. 53). It relates a story from the early part of the authors’ marriage when one of them had a tendency to be negative about everything in their relationship, including their relative poverty compared to their neighbours, the state of their clothing, and even the habits of the other partner. A moment of inspiration changed all that, however, when Les was in a statistics laboratory and could not understand how the computer could make lightning speed calculations of complex statistics. The Professor passed by and explained that it had to do with each iota of data being given a positive or a negative electrical impulse, and that human brains were similar, stamping impressions with a positive or negative tone. The professor also said “Unlike computers, however, humans develop a habit of programming their minds to be either mostly negative or mostly positive.” (p. 57) This insight was a life changing experience for Les, who from that moment onwards decided never to let circumstances determine his mood. Unfortunately, however, life is just not so simple for most people, and it is likely that many readers would be put off by the glib exhortation to be happy no matter what.

A more positive contribution is made by the last chapter, which deals with the spiritual dimension of marriage. The recommendation here to find ways of getting involved with charity work, child sponsorship, or other joint activities which couples can do together while achieving some good in the world, is good advice. The exercises which accompany each chapter, and the further reading indicated in the notes at the end are also good features, making this a moderately useful book for general use, even though it is somewhat superficial in its analysis of marital relationships.

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