Can your marriage be better? Are you looking for something you can read and discuss with your spouse? Are you looking for something to help reinvigorate your relationship with your spouse? Are you engaged and looking forward to having a healthy, happy marriage with your soon-to-be spouse? Are you single and hope to get married one day? If you said yes to any of these questions, then I just finished reading a book that I recommend you read too.
In The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime Karee Santos and her husband, Dr. Manny Santos, have brought together their own experiences of marriage along with years of working in marriage preparation to discuss four main themes that can lead to strong, Catholic marriages. The book can be used any number of ways.
Use it to supplement or revise an existing marriage preparation program. Use it for adult faith formation. Try it out in a book club with other moms. Or read it with your spouse. This could also be a good book for priests and deacons who prepare couples for marriage to prepare themselves for all the challenges that married couples face. Check out Appendix A of the book for more tips and suggestions. The Santos’ have already thought through many of the possibilities.
I really liked the format of the book and it was written in a very easy manner. Each of the four main themes of Faithful, Free, Fruitful, and Total Love takes center stage in each of the four parts of the book. Within each part, there are 3 chapters that go deeper into the meaning of each of these four “keys” to a joy filled marriage. Within each chapter there are also stories that help illustrate points and give you and your spouse/fiancé questions to discuss together. On top of that, each chapter ends with some conversation starters for couples to discuss, an action plan of something you can do together, and a bit of relevant Catechism.
I liked the addition of the stories scattered throughout the chapters, usually 1-2 stores in each. They helped break up the text some and provided a real life example of a common problem or situation to which others can relate. I also really liked that Karee and Manny were open in sharing their own experiences of marriage to provide encouragement, camaraderie, and learning experiences to readers.
Some chapters were better than others. Personally, I really connected to the chapters on NFP (chapter 8) and the one on Turning our homes into places of prayer (chapter 11). In chapter 8 I love how honest they are about the struggles of NFP. They also point out that while NFP is an option for us as Catholics, we are also not obligated to follow it. We can also leave our fertility totally up to God. They were also honest about their own experiences and Karee detailed how they went through several methods before finding one that worked well for them. The chapter on prayer was also very interesting to me because it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot recently myself. I loved hearing the types of prayer that they have made a part of their every-day family life. I definitely walked away with some ideas I can implement with my own family.
A few times I felt like there was a lot of information packed into a chapter and it made it feel like it jumped from one topic to another rather quickly. It’s hard to pack everything you could possibly discuss regarding marriage into one book, so I understand that it can get cumbersome here and there. But I found this to be a minor nuisance in an otherwise very good book.
I enjoyed reading through it on my own and there were parts of it that I plan to
make ask my husband to read so we can discuss together. I had hoped to get my husband to read at least a chapter or two before I wrote this review, but it didn’t happen. I expect that we can have some good conversations using the discussion questions and conversation starters provided in each chapter.
Whether you are engaged and want something strongly Catholic to help in your preparation, already married and looking for something to reinvigorate your marriage, or just want to discuss marriage topics with your spouse again after several years, this is a book worth checking out.
The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime is currently available from Ave Maria Press for $15.95 as well as other online retailers, or ask for it at your local Catholic bookstore.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.