Sometimes, I have the distinct pleasure of reading books before they are released. It’s even more fun when those books are written by someone that I know. And even more fun when that someone I know is also someone I count as a friend. I had the honor of reading From Newlywed to Foreverwed by Reverend Stacey Steck, and I’ll be recommending this book to anyone planning to get married and anyone who has just been married and even those who have been married a while and would like to think about some of the relationships, reactions, and nuances of their current marriage.

The book is powerful, but for me it was even better hearing his voice as I read. After having heard multiple sermons from him and having countless conversations with him, I can testify to the fact that this book is in his voice — an extremely easy one to listen to and read.

from newlywed to foreverwed cover

What’s Inside

In his book, Steck discusses the importance of really looking at our families — each of our families — that we’re bringing to a relationship and marriage because it’s more than just two people getting married. It’s two full families with histories and stories and traditions and more.

As I read through the book, I was able to apply the thoughts, reflections, and advice to my marriage. Even though we’ve been married for eight+ years, there’s still plenty we can do to think through how our upbringing and families affect our current relationship. There were moments when I said, “Aha! This makes perfect sense!”

At the end of each chapter, Steck offers a variety of both conversation starters for couples as well as reflective questions. This way, readers can immediately apply the thoughts and suggestions Steck has offered.

I think my favorite part of the book is that it’s both practical and spiritual. Steck, as a pastor, does a fabulous job of weaving the in-your-face truth with the reminder that there is much to do to set a good foundation in the Word with your marriage.

Q&A with the Author

He humored me with a Q&A. Enjoy!

1. Why a book on marriage and premarital counseling? What was the inspiration?
Good question! Does the world really need one more person weighing in on the subject? Well, this book developed looking at what the gurus weren’t telling people, or at least not covering with the depth I felt was necessary. There are very few user-friendly (self-help) books on marriage that use the family systems approach that I do, and none that I could find for couples preparing for marriage. So I figured I could carve out my niche.

2. Sum the book up in one sentence for my skim-readers.
From Newlywed to Foreverwed shines a light on what’s going on emotionally behind the scenes in the early years of marriage, and helps couples learn how to successfully manage the tensions that inevitably arise in the joining together of two families.

3. You talk about anxiety as being the underlying “problem” in relationships. How do you manage your anxiety-driven situations?
Anxiety isn’t a problem so much as a presence, as well as an opportunity. We get anxious all the time, and it’s often a great thrill. When faced with more troublesome anxiety we tend to react rather than respond and close ourselves off to the possibilities that are right there in those feelings we’re having. So, for me, when I notice I am anxious, I try to stay in a curious mode and see what I can learn about myself and the situation I’m in. That gives me a little distance from the intensity of my feelings. Of course, it’s not always easy to notice when you are feeling anxious. Often it just kind of creeps up on you! But I also try to look back on those times and see what I can learn from the experience.

4. Your wife sounds really awesome. Tell me more about how the two of you met.
We met in college on a spring break trip, and no, it wasn’t to Ft. Lauderdale. We were doing an alternative Spring Break experience with Habitat for Humanity and it was “love in the Mississippi Delta!” I had coordinated the trip and she was attracted to who she thought was a professor, but was really just your average college student. It must have been the beard.

5. Ok, tell us a secret: what’s one of your communication/anxiety weaknesses?
I get anxious when I have to talk about my weaknesses, because I don’t feel comfortable just making things up! But seriously, talking about your weaknesses means being vulnerable and that’s always pretty hard. Everybody hates those job interview questions that ask you to talk about your weaknesses because it means being vulnerable in a situation where you are not on equal footing with the other person. It’s hard enough to be vulnerable with people with whom you have an equal relationship! So that kind of situation generates some anxiety, and I’m not immune to it.

6. You said it took you a while to get through college. I picked up on the fact that, perhaps, you didn’t set out to be in the ministry. Am I wrong? Or was there some other grand plan?
As I look back, all the majors I had in college, including Seminary had in common that it was about telling a story in a creative way. First I tried architecture, then filmmaking, and finally preaching. It just took a while to find the right fit. We’ll call it God’s grand plan, not mine, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

7. Your two kids may very well grow up and get married. Regardless, they’ll have relationships both romantic and platonic. What would be your one piece of advice to them right now?
At their age now, I try to help them become well-rounded, interesting, compassionate people who have good social skills. That’s really the crux of the idea of self-differentiation I talk a lot about in the book; you have to be able to live with yourself and with others. That’s what makes you a good spouse and decent person in general.

8. Off topic: Iceland? Why?
I’ve been fascinated with Iceland since I was a teenager and read one of the Icelandic Viking sagas. When I was finally able to go for the first time in 2007, it was a dream come true and exceeded my decades of expectation. The landscape is just so creatively austere it opens you up. The first time, we visited all the touristy places, so when I went back for my sabbatical to write the book, I stuck to one out of the way place for a month so I could get a better feel for the people and to have a more intimate look at the landscape. It was amazing.

Final Recommendation

If you are getting married, know someone getting married, are in a serious relationship or are even in a marriage and have been for a long time, be sure to grab a copy of From Newlywed to Foreverwed. It’s the perfect shower gift or anniversary gift or relationship gift. I know that I have grown more from this book than any other in the realm of marriage and relationships.

You can purchase From Newlywed to Foreverwed on Amazon or, if you’re local to Reverend Steck, you can pick one up from him in person!

I received a pre-print copy of this book under no expectation of a formal review. All opinions of the book are my own. There was no compensation.