One of the things I love about reading Paul Tripp is his giftedness for applying Scripture to daily life. In What Did You Expect, Tripp uses this ability to great benefit as he looks at six important commitments that Christian couples need in order to have healthy and God-honoring marriages.
In many marriage books, the authors somehow manage to ignore the darker parts of our nature. Writers often assume that people are always good and that marital problems are caused merely by miscommunication or by a lack of basic knowledge. Tripp is not so gullible. Taking an honest look at the consequences of two sinners coming together, Tripp makes it plain that we can never stop seeking God’s help and working to see that our marriages survive. We are rebels at heart, and Tripp handles that concept well.
Tripp also never lets go of the spiritual dimension of our marriages. This book is not a mere how-to, self-help, or communication manual. Tripp takes very seriously that our marriages have two dimensions, a vertical and a horizontal. While we might strive to have our horizontal relationship right, if we fail to make our marriages primarily about God, the vertical dimension, we will never see truly glorious married life.
Tripp also avoids two major pitfalls that I see in many marriage books. He does not spend page after page giving husbands date night ideas or telling them that, were they merely as romantic as the men in romantic comedies, their marriages would be picture perfect. Nor does Tripp assume that a how-to manual regarding physical gratification is what Christian married couples need. In both areas, I applaud Tripp for seeing into the real issues.
I love how Tripp’s years of biblical counseling experience provide him a wealth of illustrations to draw from as he walks us through our need to continually strive for excellence in our marriages. However, I will say that , at times, the rapid-fire stacking of illustration after illustration can make some of the chapters feel a bit long. I realize this is a personal preference and that others might love this feature, but I would have preferred a little less case study in the work.
What Did You Expect is an excellent book for couples to read together. Tripp is honest and fair in his assessment of the work that is before any married couple. This book does not fall into the traps that make so many marriage books sappy or unrealistic. This book is simply a helpful study of vitally important issues.