The core idea of THE TEN-MINUTE MARRIAGE PRINCIPLE --- that you can change your marriage in 10 minutes a day --- may strike some as improbably optimistic. But prolific author and executive director of the Heart to Heart Counseling Center Douglas Weiss believes it’s possible. “If you’re going to be married, have a great marriage! Let me show you how.”
Weiss, the host of TBN’s “Winning @ Marriage” television game show (think “The Newlywed Game”), bases his book on “intimacy workouts,” which he compares to physical workouts necessary to maintain good health. The exercises are deceptively simple. Pray out loud together. Look into each other’s eyes (no, I’m not kidding!). Recall positive memories together. Tell each other what you are grateful for. Tell each other what you learned that day. “As the intimacy core muscles are strengthened daily, you can experience incredible closeness and endurance to run this marathon we call marriage.”
He spells everything out for readers, right down to suggesting the couple write in when they will begin the exercises, at what time of day and the three exercises they will start with. He suggests planning awards, such as a night at a Bed and Breakfast, as incentive for sticking with the exercises.
Although the “ten minutes” principle is referred to throughout the book, it’s actually a small portion of the text. After outlining the exercises, Weiss follows up with chapters that are intended to help couples in areas such as motivation, decision-making, fighting, sex and intimacy issues, problems from an abusive past, unforgiveness, money, forgetting to “date” and building a support network. The various chapters also emphasize faith, going to church and keeping God at the center of a marriage.
One interesting chapter addresses what Weiss calls “spouse attack,” in which one spouse experiences a flood of negative thoughts about the other. He shares about his own “spouse attacks” and offers practical tools for a “One-minute Turnaround” that he says will stop the negative thoughts before they get out of hand. These range from calling a friend for help to picturing happy times with your spouse.
Three things stand in the way to success, Weiss writes: our personalities, “feelings first” decision making and waiting for desire. Strengthening marriages requires discipline, Weiss says. That means doing things you don’t feel like doing, trying something that you may not feel is your personality and working intentionally to desire your spouse.
Weiss’s enthusiasm never wanes, and there is an abundance of promises and lots of motivational pep talk. Look for words and phrases such as “amazing” or “look and feel better” sprinkled throughout. Weiss does a good job --- maybe too good --- of giving detailed ways to implement the principles he suggests in the book. As one example, in “The Ten-Minute Argument” there are contracts, suggestions for consequences when someone doesn’t follow through and ideas for ensuring that both spouses understand the agreement (even a suggestion to make a cassette tape or CD of the agreement). Some readers will find the book over-detailed in places, although those who like everything spelled out for them may appreciate this. (More spontaneous couples may want to skim a few sections, such as the detailed dating chapter or the one on negotiating sex, right down to what positions you’ll agree to.)
The mini-workbook forms inserted throughout the text (with contracts for husbands and wives to sign signifying their agreement to various issues) will aid some couples with application. THE TEN-MINUTE MARRIAGE PRINCIPLE will be most helpful to those who want specific, guided exercises and detailed ideas for help to revive a tired marriage or keep a marriage strong.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on November 14, 2007