Saturday, May 1, 2010

‘Us: A User’s Guide’ by Daniel L. Tocchini – Book Review

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Many people need help to improve their marriage.  I have discovered a terrific resource, ‘Us: A User’s Guide’ by Daniel L. Tocchini

Mr. Tocchini knows whereof he speaks when it comes to marriage.  Here’s his biography from the back of ‘Us: A User’s Guide:’

Daniel L. Tocchini has worked with more than five thousand couples through personal marriage coaching and the unique and life-changing marriage seminars offered through his organizations, the Association for Christian Character Development.  An ordained minister, chaplain, author, and highly successful speaker and coach, he lives with his family in California.

Here is the ‘blurb’ on the back of the book:
         Surprise Yourself with How Great Your Marriage Can Be.
Daniel Tocchini doesn’t want to improve your marriage; he wants to transform it.  Or, rather, to show how some simple changes in your marital conversation – the way you talk to yourself and each other – can open up your relationship to God’s transforming power.
…Tocchini offers a wealth of practical guidance to help you learn to live your marriage “in the light” – talking honestly, listening generously, confronting tricky issues, tuning in to each other’s needs and yearnings, and breaking free of the self-centered “consumer thinking” that infects us all.  Innovative, insightful, and thoroughly biblical, Tocchini’s approach has helped thousands in his popular seminars.
Whether your marriage is in deep trouble, or just coasting along, you’ll be amazed at what happens when you finally follow the User’s Guide that God intended.

Mr. Tocchini makes the assertion that we go down the wrong path when we view marriage as a consumer:

…[W]e live in a “consumer”-oriented culture.  It is a part of who we are because it is what we were born into.  Or relationships in particular, are immersed in consumerism.
A consumer views marriage as if it exists for individual fulfillment.  If a spouse isn’t being fulfilled, then that “consumer” looks for another relationship or even falls into an addiction to fulfill their particular needs – whether to look good, feel good, be right, or be in control. (p. 28)

Communication is important in marriage.  Mr. Tocchini points out that our internal dialogue is important in our marriage relationship:

We cannot learn how to love out loud if we are boxed into a matrix of deadly self-conversations.  We cannot learn to dialogue with our spouse in a healthy manner if we are plagued by assumptions we invent about them or our marriage.  We cannot learn how to see our spouse in a new way until we notice what we say to ourselves about who we are “certain” they are or what their intentions are. (p. 51)

Very often, we need to make changes in our relationship.  Daniel points out that God should be at the center of that:

Transformation according to metamorphoo [a divine transformation] is dependent on God, not on our efforts.  If we don’t trust Him, we will never reach the potential of our eternal calling and will never experience a marriage beyond our wildest dreams.  Make no mistake.  This transformation is not easy.  Often it is messy, uncomfortable, and downright tough.  Why?  Because true transformation is all about the death of ourselves – our assumptions, the way we think we should look… It is about letting go of the need to protect or defend ourselves.  It is about living purely from the joy of othering. (p. 166)

Selflessness is important in any relationship!

In the Conclusion, Daniel offers this prayer to his readers:

I pray that the ideas and disciplines in this book bring you closer to a future worth having.  Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight.  Nothing does.  But over time, with prayer and devotion to your union, you will notice the fruits of transformation.  And if you happen to be one of those happy couples who have not endured a significant challenge or obstacle in your relationship, I pray you have learned strategies that will keep you grounded, focused, and centered on a God-designed kingdom marriage. (pp. 193-194)

I think this book would be terrific for a couple to work through together.  There are questions and topics interspersed throughout the book – questions that are deep and require thought.  This is a wonderful book for people who seriously want to improve their marriage.  It provides biblical and scripturally solid advice, and will help many people to improve their relationship with themselves, their spouses – and most importantly, God.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by David C. Cook and provided by the B&B Media Group for review purposes.

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