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Building a Strong Relationship

At first sight, I was a little put off by the book's title, Love at Last Sight: 30 days to grow and deepen your closest relationship. Yet, as you begin to wade into this new book by Kerry and Chris Shook, you find a wealth of practical advice for relationships. My uneasiness about the title refers to the 30 days approach, which after reading the book is not just another gimmick but rather biblically informed wisdom about how relationships work and how they can grow.

In the first chapter of the book, the authors write about the necessity of being all there in relationships by saying, "Most communication takes place nonverbally through facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. So if you connect only by phone or by e-mail, you're missing out on your biggest opportunities for getting closer" (17). There is something wonderful about our technologically advanced that we can communicate with others at any time, yet we are not much closer to our closest relationships because of technology. Investment face to face breaks the walls we hide behind through the viral world. The Shooks recognize that being there for someone is actually physcially being present while also realzing that your nonverbal cues carry more weight than your words.

In writing about conflict, the authors mention that taking turns is key to a good conflict. Allowing the other person to be snowballed by your anger and malicious words only causes the relationship to further sever. We rather want to win the argument rather than hear the person. This is all the more important because conflict necessitates a spirit of forgiveness. They write at one point, "Six words. "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"...But sometimes we are wrong" (41) Sometimes in conflict I find it necessary to even try and carefully restate what the other person I am talking to is saying, because I am often prone to distortion and abuse of their language. The Shooks have wisely included challenge questions at the end of each chapter to serve as a conversation piece. Conflict is not devastating to a relationship until it blows over into hatred, disregard for the other person and mean-spirited antagonism.

The chapter entitled The Imperfect Dance was a wakeup call for me while I was reading. My desire is to love my wife and to serve her in all ways, yet I fall short in many ways. The Shooks remind their readers that although imperfect we are, we can take 'incremental goals' to help bring healing and restoration to relationships (73). At one point, the authors write, "Marriage is a choice. When you say yes to your spouse, you're saying no to every other person on the planet. Once you've invested your life in someone, you can't recapture those hours to use again on someone else" (73). What this comment says is that relationships especially are a comittment beyond all else, and to allow restoration to take place we need to say no to many things that cause those closest relationships to fracture. These kind of actions and comittments must be intentional, little decisions done every day over time that add up to a life of faithfulness.

Overall, I thought this book was a great book for those interested in developing their closest relationships. In the end, I did not feel that this was a six step program at all, but a vision of wisdom from Scriptural principles about loving our close ones well. For spouses, teachers, church leaders, and those interested in healing from the pain of relationships, this book would be a good read.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the complimentary review copy.


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