Marriage is such an important topic for the single, the dating, the engaged, the married, or the divorced – unsurprisingly so, as it is a fundamental building block of society that helps order the community. And since marriage starts way before we meet that special someone, and since we don’t have to be married to contribute to the strengthening of other marriages, we can all contribute to challenging the predominant societal beliefs about marriage, some of which are amazing, and some of which are anything but.
Ashleigh Slater’s contribution to the discussion, Team Us: Marriage Together, seeks to explore what couples are agreeing on when they say, “I do.” It is, of course, a lot more than agreeing to live together, having a joint bank account and a permanent date to all social events. Slater understands marriage as a team that together tries to build a home in which Christian values abound. Being composed of two imperfect spouses, a marriage cannot but run into disappointments, complications, and frustrations, which can be avoided, according to Slater, by being “intentional” in day-to-day interactions, without which the “we” reverts to “you and I.”
Based on her personal experience with marriage and her personal learning, Team Us is a collection of reflections by Slater with practical suggestions and ideas on how to foster cooperation, deepen commitment, and exercise grace on a daily basis. And while the ideas are good, and the suggestions are, indeed, practical, there is a hint of triumphalism that can turn readers off this book quite easily. Personal experience is presented as proof, rather than as one potential solution. It takes time and effort to get over the triumphalism, which does require extra mental effort. Once I got over it, I was able to appreciate the anecdotes and the advice.
One of the strong points of the book is that although a Christian book, individuals of all religious beliefs can benefit from the advice. If you don’t believe in God, in the Station of Jesus Christ, or in the Bible, there are a few parts you might skip. The way Slater writes makes it seem like you are sitting at a kitchen table with a mug of hot cocoa, getting advice about marriage. The sometimes superior tone is balanced out by the fact that Slater has used her personal experience to deepen her understand of what a Christian marriage can look like.
There are no magical formulas (is there even such a thing?) or particularly unique insights offered, but the advice offered throughout this book is a good source material for common advice given to married couples that, presented in a simple language, could be a great tool to reflect on your own marriage.