Monday Marriage:
Celebrating the Ordinary

by Gerald W. and L. Marlene Kaufman, Herald Press, 2005, 102 pages.
Reviewed by Jack Heppner.

This highly-readable, candid and short work on marriage is rooted in nearly thirty years of marriage counseling that the Kaufmans have done. Although they are aware that there is much literature available about marriage, they are convinced that much of the advice it offers is misleading or even harmful. Much of the high-sounding verbiage about marriage in our day, they say, holds up an ideal that is impossible to attain in the long run. The authors use “Monday” as a metaphor for the ordinary, that is to say that if it’s not good for a Monday morning something is missing.

The book is divided into two main sections, “Expecting Less,” and “Giving More.” The authors suggest that pop culture, and even some well-meaning pastors and counselors, promote an idealistic view of marriage that is impossible to maintain. So the basic advice the Kaufmans give couples is to expect less from marriage while at the same time giving more to it to counteract the toxic effect of a culture geared more toward destruction than construction of marriages.

In the first section the Kaufmans suggest to plan a modest wedding – in line with family means and values. They note that there is a big difference between getting married and being married. They maintain that “Weddings are so sacred and so filled with emotion that they deserve to be protected from commercial influences. Further, the Kaufmans suggest that personality profiling – a standard part of much marriage counseling – often works against the couple in the long run. Instead of providing insights leading to acceptance such profiling often becomes information to hold against each other. They also feel that all the free talk about sex in past decades has created unrealistic expectations in that area of relationships. Their counsel is to focus on developing intimacy that will naturally lead to good sex. The Kaufmans even suggest that an over-emphasis on communication theory can in fact kill communication. Focusing on attitude rather than method usually works better, they say.

In the second section, “Giving More,” the authors call for a renewed emphasis on covenant, noting that many couples see marriage as a continuation of their dating life in which they can call it off when it doesn’t work well. Beyond that they focus on two major marriage killers – work and lack of free time. While work will inevitably be accompanied by stress, it is important, they suggest, not to allow the dynamics of work to ruin relationships. And even apart from work, couples must guard their free time carefully so as not to become overly busy. Without taking control of “free time” overcrowded schedules will automatically work against satisfying marriage relationships.

I found this book to be a breath of fresh air. I must confess that I have never been very comfortable using all the highly professionalized tools available for marriage counseling. I am affirmed that the simplified, more down-to-earth methods I use may, in the long-run, be just as, or even more, effective.

This would be a great book to give couples anticipating marriage, or those trying their best to make their Monday marriages work well.