Happy Ever After?
Paul Beasley-Murray's useful workbook for couples preparing for marriage has been updated and republished
Happy Ever After?
By Paul Beasley-Murray
College of Baptist Ministers
Reviewed by Stephen Roe
I am glad to see this very helpful ‘work book’ has been republished. As a Baptist minister I have often used its two earlier editions in marriage preparation over the years.
The preface helpfully comments on some of the social changes in marriage customs in UK since the 2003 edition (though not same-sex marriage legislation, which now affects all in UK, with churches having to carefully and prayerfully consider their stance, as Baptist Union Council has done).
The comments consider the practical aspects of cohabitation and divorce, giving guidance to ministers and churches in these sensitive matters - reflecting the author’s long experience in local church pastoral ministry.
The work book is in the same format as earlier editions, with two sections about the future removed, but the basic six chapters and then a section on the legal elements and ideas for the wedding service unchanged. The format is very useful for a couple, who are asked to work through each chapter separately with some searching questions about expectations, hopes, plans, ideas, and experience. The booklet gives space to write answers.
The ideal is then for the couple to meet and discuss their answers, and also meet with the minister who can sensitively raise some issues in general from the topic of that chapter. Without needing to hear answers in detail, I have always found that gentle discussion of these topics, considered previously by the couple separately, has been a help to them, and strengthened the pastoral relationship. A plan of preferably-weekly meeting keeps the momentum of the preparation, and ensures that the most benefit is received by the couple.
Another strength of the work book is how it weaves the Bible’s teaching and values into the topics in a relevant way, enabling natural evangelistic opportunities to arise if one or even both of the couple are not Christians. If the couple are already committed Christians, and even members of the same local church, the topics encourage deeper reflection as part of discipleship.
I know of no other work book so useful and encouraging for use by Baptist ministers and churches today.
Stephen Roe is minister of Walderslade Baptist Church, Kent.
Happy Ever After? is published by the College of Baptist Ministers. Follow this link for details of how to purchase.