The Marriage Book by Nicky and Sila Lee

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The Marriage Book is Nicky and Sila Lee’s open and honest Alpha Course based guide to a satisfying, life-long and totally fulfilling relationship.

With the experience of the husband and wife team who developed The Alpha Marriage Course, now used throughout the UK, The Marraige Book is 20 easy to read chapters offering practical wisdom for life-long married life.

Children, money, in-laws, sex, communication and prayer are discussed with honesty, sensitivity and good humour for Christian couples and those with no church connection.


"The marriage relationship is designed by God to be an adventure that lasts a lifetime." – The Marriage Book


Love is patient, love is kind

Nicky and Sila’s marriage book opens with the words of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 printed in full and set out as a poem of love. A familiar Bible reading at many weddings – of Christians and  people of no faith at all, the well known text sets tone for a book based solidly in biblical teaching, but isn't a book that simply teaches the Bible.

With its heart founded on the wisdom of the Bible, but without the voice of preacher, The Marriage Book will be acceptable to couples with a lifelong Christian tradition and many with no faith connections. Readers and users of the book tell how they return to its pages again and again just to ‘dip in’ for day to encouragement and support.


Love does not envy, does not boast

The opening chapter starts with a simple attempt to define marriage. This is not a laying down of the law, or a romantic ideal, but a realistic look at what marriage is in practice. Never arrogant about their own experience, Nicky and Sila welcome the wisdom of others into their book.

Quotes from experts, the observations of artists, anecdotes from real life and relatively few direct references to the Bible – unnecessary when the Bible is clearly the foundation text, make The Marriage Book readable and accessible to people of little or no church attachment.

Acknowledging that marriage is a work in progress and probably not perfect from the start, they’re also honest about the changes a marriage will experience over time. Advice and help is given in small, memorable, bite-sized paragraphs that can be 'dipped into' for encouragement and reassurance time and time again.


Love is not proud, and is not rude

Charlie Mackesy's simple energetic line drawings – sometimes humorous, always sensitive, illustrate the text with a lightness of touch characteristic of the whole book. This light and easy style makes The Marriage Book more of constant companion than a weighty work of reference.

Less ‘in your face’ than Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage and much less sensationalist in its marketing and publicity, The Marriage Book is carefully written for the life and sensibilities of UK couples already in,or considering starting out on, a relationship.


Love is not selfish, not easily angered

Nicky and Sila are no less direct than the Driscolls when it comes to talking about marriage and sex. In the Alpha book, Sex is inseparably linked to commitment. Sexual boundaries in the formative days of a relationship and during engagement are approached with the good of the couple as the principle concern.

The vulnerability of both partners, the need for trust and the kind of love that produces the best sex and ways to deal with disappointment while maintaining a sense of humour are addressed with real care for the reader. As with other chapters, real life anecdotes, words of wisdom and the story of Nicky and Sila’s own relationship enhance the sincerity of the book’s advice and guidance.


Love keeps no score of wrongs

The importance of budgeting in a marriage and its potential danger to a relationship is not overlooked. Given the same significance to a successful marriage as sex, the Alpha course book gives much practical advice on how to approach budgeting and manage financial affairs.

Ten intensely practical tips and a simple pre-printed budget planner give couples an outline guide to managing their finances and avoiding potential conflict. Couples can, at-a-glance assess their income alongside their fixed expenditure, essential and non-essential expenditure and plan savings for emergencies and more enjoyable events.


Love does not delight in evil

The health of the couple’s prayer life isn’t overlooked either. Building and sharing this can be the most difficult thing for a couple to do. More intimate and revealing than any other aspect of married life, Nicky and Sila set out a path for a gradual moving together into a life of prayer.

Looking to a relationship where prayer is natural and a first resort in every situation and applied to every decision, The Marriage Book is not a rigid prayer manual, but an encouragement for partners to find the time, place and style of prayer that best connects them as individuals to each other and to God.


Love rejoices in the truth

Some of the book's most engaging, entertaining and yet deeply though provoking words are in the appendices. Appendix 1 with the title ‘Ready for Marriage’ asks how do couples know that they’re right for each other? The chapter that follows lays out ‘Seven Tests of Love’.

These are questions that need to be faced honestly and help to reveal if the foundations of strong marriage are present in the relationship. Questions include: ‘Do I respect this person?’ and ‘Does our love give me energy and strength or does it drain me?’ Most important perhaps is the question: ‘Do I accept this person as they are?’


Love always protects, always trusts

Chapters of the Alpha Course Marriage Book include:

Building Strong Foundations: How to take a long view of marriage and plan for a relationship.

The Art of Communication: How to talk to each other and hear what the other is saying.

Love in Action: How to give and receive love in words, actions, time, presents and touch.

Resolving Conflict: How to appreciate and find the centre of yours and your partner’s life. 

The Power of Forgiveness: How to maintain intimacy and how intimacy can be restored.

Parents and In-laws: How to get on with parents and leave behind parental control.

Good Sex: What sex is all about, how to protect sex in marriage and keep sex alive.


Love always hopes, always perseveres

Preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime, appendices to The Marriage Book include practical advice for couples thinking about or preparing for a life together. Engagement and sensitive advice about sex and the honeymoon prepare couples for marriage as the opportunity of a lifetime.

Additional help is given for important aspects that might not be high up the list of priorities for couples considering marriage. These include heading off potential problems of budgeting and how to build a prayer life together.


Love never fails

With Alpha pedigree and reliability, the foreword by Alpha Course designer and director, Nicky Gumbel, assures readers that the book and its authors have all the credibility and down-to-earth practicality expected of Alpha Course publications.

Though the book is unashamedly ased on biblical wisdom, Nicky Gumbel and the authors Nicky and Sila Lee accept that not everyone reading this book will come from a strongly Bible background. The book is primarily about helping couples build a strong marriage in this.


Real life marriage of the two authors

The Marriage Book opens with a brief introduction to the authors – who they are, how they met and the story of their marriage. Personal details of their journey to love, to faith and to commitment anchor the advice they give in honest reality.

The story of their marriage is told from both Nicky and Sila’s point of view giving an independent look at the personal feelings of both partners. The stresses and strains on their relationship reassure readers that these two know what they’re talking about.


Nicky and Sila Lee: author snapshot

Married for over 30 years Nicky and Sila Lee ran th Alpha course at Holy trinity Brompton for 5 years until 1990, and The Marriage Course there since 1996. In their twenty four years of marriage they have raised 4 children, shared 1528 nights of broken sleep, driven 200,000 miles together, talked for 10,000 hours and slept 8,000 hours in the same bed.

Quick Guide to The Marriage Book by NIcky and Sila Lee

What is it?

  • Practical advice and useful tools to help build a strong and healthy relationship.
  • Biblical wisdom based on the widely used and successful Alpha Marriage Course.
  • Honest and open guidance on key areas of marriage from 25 years experience.

What will it give me?

  • Help toward acheiving a totally fulfilling and lifelong relationship with your partner.
  • Practical help with communication, resolving conflict, in-laws, sex and budgeting.
  • Preparation and planning advice for starting out and continuing in a relationship.
16th April

April 16th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison

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