Review of Marriage from Roots to Fruits by Matt Pavlik
Are you engaged or thinking about getting married? Have you been married for years but are struggling to remain close? This book by Matt Pavlik, marriage counselor, is a must for any romantic relationship.
I wish I had known some of these principles before I got married. I eventually learned many of the most important ones through experience, but that was the hard way. If you’re single, engaged, or newly married, do your relationship (or future one) a favor and read this book! Even us “pros” who’ve been married 15 years or more can benefit from reminders and from looking ahead to the empty-nest or legacy-leaving years.
If I had realized some of these lessons early on, especially about the individual growth, we would have been spared several dark years in the beginning of our marriage.
I’ve loved this book so much that not only have I applied it to my own marriage, but I have bought a copy for a struggling family member and am recommending it to all!
I’m going to give you several reasons to read the book. Here you will find a helpful definition of marriage, many positive qualities about the book, and just a few, minor negative qualities.
1. Sensibly Organized
Those who know me know that I love organization. Not only does it save time to skim through the important points, but organized bullet points and bolded headings help clarify the message. I know exactly where the author is going when I see very organized subheadings and bulleted lists.
I appreciated how he showed exactly how each section of the book related to the others. The first section is Spiritual Foundations, getting the basics of what you believe and why you believe them straight in your mind. The second part is Individual Growth and Development, working through past experiences and learning what you need to focus on right now as an individual. The third and longest part is Marital Growth and Development, taking two individuals who hopefully have now worked through any baggage from the past and made changes in present unsatisfactory behaviors and now making them one unit, how they should relate to each other.
The author also uses many bulleted lists, which make reading quick and understanding connections easy.
2. Simply Visual
That brings me to my next point. Matt uses simple visuals, graphs, and stick figures to illustrate important points and relationships between ideas. These, though not full-color graphics, are all that was needed to get his message across to us more visual learners. There were several times the point was a little vague to me, but as soon as I studied the provided visual, I immediately understood.
Effective and Organized
3. Usefully Practical
I’m sure you’ve read books like I have that left you thinking, “Yeah, that’s true, and I agree, but how do I apply it to me?” You won’t need to think that with Marriage from Roots to Fruits. At the end of every chapter, the author gives many actionable steps to follow. He not only gives thought-provoking quotes and questions to reflect on, but he also gives check boxes of actions to actually do.
He also gives tons of resources for further study, not just books and websites but also movies to watch and discuss with your spouse, if possible.
4. Widely Wise (Varying Sources of Wisdom)
This marriage is based on Biblical wisdom. I couldn’t recommend it otherwise. However, it’s not just a bunch of preaching of what we should and shouldn’t do based on obscure Bible passages that aren’t discussed in context. Instead, Matt skillfully weaves in his personal experience as well as what he has learned from others’ stories in the more than twenty years he has been a marriage counselor.
● Basis of Biblical knowledge. His use of Scripture at the beginning of every chapter is highly helpful and spiritually sound.
● Personal experience of relationships. He has obviously studied many areas that affect the marriage relationship and knows by personal experience the needs and strengths of most husbands and most wives.
● Careful observation of methods. He knows which theories work and which don’t.
5. Not “Fluffy” but “Meaty”
I have read so many Christian books that were meant to be helpful, but I felt as if I were floating away from the practical on a sea of fluff. No charge of fluff can be levied against Matt Pavlik. This book was crammed full of meat, solid information, illustrations, and application, with not an ounce of fluff that I saw.
You won’t find much poetic language obscuring truth and application in Marriage from Roots to Fruits. It’s a no-nonsense, let’s-get-to-the-heart-of-the-problem-and-solve-it-as-simply-as-possible manual for the tough but potentially spectacular bond of marriage. Nothing spectacular will be easy; but it will be worth working for, and Matt gives many great ideas on specific actions to put your effort into. Can you tell I passionately advocate practical application? 😊
Now, to be completely honest, no book is perfect, and there were a few minor things I disliked:
● A few vague or undefined ideas. There were a few sentences that seemed a little unclear to me, though it may just be me.
● Somewhat choppy style. Because he focuses on action and writes very directly, sometimes his style can feel a little stilted and choppy. To me, even though I appreciate eloquence, sometimes it gets in the way of application. If I have to choose between the two, I will choose applicable and choppy any day.
● Disconnected chapters. Though I mentioned that this book was well organized, I must be honest and admit there were a few chapters that seemed disconnected from the previous ones. He had so much information stuffed into the third part, especially on the marriage problems, that I think he would have benefited from even further sub-headings under the three parts. For example, chapter 28 on Sexual Intimacy, though very insightful in itself, just felt out of place between the Four Languages of Love and Productive Conflict. Maybe there was a connection, but it wasn’t obvious. I would have preferred more transitions from one topic to the next, if they were about different topics.
● Disagreement with Divorce & Remarriage Opinions. This is the only important negative to me. I agreed with almost everything in the book until Chapter 47. There our opinions differed about what the Bible teaches regarding divorce and remarriage. I felt like all the previous chapters, especially about conflict resolution, were building toward showing grace and granting forgiveness in every circumstance. For example, take this quote: Reconciliation may not be possible if the spouse is not willing, and there may the only exception for divorce: if they want to divorce and refuse to repent. There’s nothing you can do to force them to stay. But then Matt states that dating and remarriage are okay after a certain amount of time and most likely counseling. I personally don’t agree. I think both the letter and the spirit of the Scriptures dealing with marriage and divorce imply that once two have become one flesh, neither should be united with someone different except in the case of death.
Conclusion: Except for the few minor caveats, this is a great resource for any spouse or anyone even thinking of getting married. I highly recommend to all Marriage from Roots to Fruit by Matt Pavlik.
There are at least nine groups of people who would benefit the most from this book (paraphrased from pages 2-3):
- If you are struggling with how to make your current relationship work;
- If you like to understand how things work--how each part functions in relation to the whole;
- If you want to learn the details of God's design for relationships;
- If you like to reflect on truths in order to gain understanding;
- If you want both a left-brained & a right-brained learning experience;
- If you are a visual learner and appreciate diagrams to gain understanding;
- If you learn best by seeing principles & ideas in their simplest form;
- If you want to apply the appropriate principles & ideas to bring about positive change; or
- If you want to make the most of your time while going through counseling.
At the beginning of my marriage, I still had individual growing to do. One improvement I needed to make was gaining confidence in who I am in Christ and not depending on my husband's affirmation to know my worth. Now I’m able to concentrate more on putting my husband's needs before mine and now growing as a team, working toward a single mission.