Wishing you had a stronger relationship with your spouse but don’t know how to achieve it? Try reading Before You Split (even if you aren’t thinking about divorce).
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A Lawyer Looks at Hurting Relationships
Toni Nieuwhof, a former divorce attorney, takes on broken relationships from a completely different perspective. Most books on marriage relationships flow from the pens of psychologists, counselors, or pastors. But Nieuwof has a completely different perspective with advice that might surprise you.
While the title implies readers might hover on the brink of divorce, Nieuwofh’s sage advice will help you build a stronger relationship with your spouse. Whether you think your relationship as few problems or insurmountable ones.
By Toni Nieuwhof, WaterBrook, January 2021, 224 pages.
No one gets married thinking their relationship will end in divorce. Yet 30% of first marriages end at a lawyer’s office. Toni Nieuwhof, a family law mediator and former divorce attorney, draws on her vast experience—both professional and personal, to help readers understand the complexities of splitting up.
Nieuwhof starts with the most basic question—what does the reader want, really want from his or her marriage? When things seem the bleakest or stuck, our knee-jerk reaction is to want out—to separate, divorce, to end the emotional pain. But Nieuwhof asks readers to evaluate instead how they have changed since they said their vows, how their partner has changed since they said their vows and their goals for a future.
Nieuwhof believes everyone in a marriage relationship has room for improvement—even when we think we are the victim. She bases her thesis on her own experience (the author has been married for over 30 years) and research. She makes a distinction between self-perceived victims and real victims of abuse and urges real victims to seek professional or police help.
Nieuwhof reminds readers that “Happiness is something you bring to a relationship, not something you get from it.” She asks readers to explore marital expectations, and ask a trusted person what it’s like to ‘be on the other side of me.’
Check Your Marital Expectations
One of the key points Nieuwhof makes comes early in the book when she says,
“It’s unrealistic to expect a human relationship, even a very close one, to heal childhood wounds or be the pathway to spiritual progress or, frankly, meet every want and desire.”Toni Nieuwhof, Before You Split
Each chapter has personal stories, anecdotes from clients, sound advice, and ends with reflection questions. The author explains what happens to children of divorced parents, too. As a lawyer, she has seen how adults can damage their kids without ever intending to.
Although entitled Before You Split, this book is appropriate for anyone who feels disillusioned or disappointed in their marriage. And we all go through phases when we feel those emotions—no matter how committed we are to our marriage.
What I Loved About This Book
The easy-to-read story-based approach to learning appeals to me. Once the author beguiles the reader with relatable stories, she delivers practical advice and asks probing questions. This combination allows the reader to see themselves in a situation and ‘try on’ responses with no skin in the game.
While written by a Christian, the author writes to include people of all faiths or no faith. Faith plays a part in her story, but not necessarily a part in the anecdotes of her clients. In other words, if you’re looking for a book filled with biblical guidelines for marriage, this isn’t that book. This IS a book you could share with your non-Christian friends.
Whether you want to divorce your spouse, feel at an impasse in your marriage, or just wish to have a deeper, richer relationship, read Before You Split. It can help you build a stronger relationship if you’re willing to put in the work.