With divorce rates hovering around the 50% mark (and some say this stat is accurate even among Christians), we would all be wise to stand up and take notice. It surrounds us everywhere: in our neighborhoods, families, and yes, even our churches.

Despite what the fairy tales may have led us to believe, happily ever after is not a guarantee. It takes work rather than just riding off into the sunset.

15 years ago, my now husband and I were preparing for our very own happily ever after. We weren’t completely naive, and besides booking rentals, ring & dress shopping, and creating the perfect gift registry, we were actually making our way through a recommended reading list and attending pre-marital counselling sessions with a godly married couple with many years of marriage experience to draw from.

One thing I don’t remember discussing, or even thinking about much, was marriage with children. Like most couples, we wanted to be parents someday, but that was about all the thought we had put into it.

Patrick & Ruth Schwenk’s latest book is focused on inspiring husbands and wives to build their marriages during the child-rearing years, or as the book states, to “love your spouse with kids in the house”. Patrick & Ruth are parents of four children, serve in local church ministry, the authors of several books as well as the creators of The Better Mom and For the Family websites.

For Better or for Kids is a fairly short, easy read, written in a casual, conversational style. It is written to both husbands and wives, with Patrick & Ruth’s individual perspectives and contributions noted throughout. It is written in similar way to Hoodwinked which Ruth co-authored with Karen Ehman; you can see  my review here.

They cover such topics as the mission of marriage, sex, parenting, grace, family rhythms, dealing with busyness, burnout, communication, finances and more. Interspersed throughout the text are “Just the Two of Us” discussion questions to encourage conversation between spouses if a couple is reading the book together.

For Better or For Kids - a vow to love your spouse with kids in the house - by Patrick & Ruth Schwenk {BOOK REVIEW}

Considerable focus is given to the topic of childcentered vs me centered vs Christ centered marriage, and included is an overview with questions to ask yourself, or “Signs of a Child Centered Marriage”.

I admit I take exception with a lot of their focus in this area on the necessity of parents going out on dates, and their view that a couple NEEDS time alone AWAY together in order to have a happy, healthy love life. Patrick actually mentions that in marriage counselling, he tells couples that they need to go on dates.

I do find these statements a little too strong, considering the advice is most definitely extra-biblical. I personally believe that our modern, western idea and practice of dating (before or after marriage) is cultural and not at all necessary, as is our idea of vacations.

Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not at all apposed to being taken out to dinner by my husband, or enjoying a week or weekend away with or without my children — but these are definitely not necessary for health or happiness! Many people don’t have access to babysitters or can’t afford eating out or travel. I would certainly never assume that all couples can or even want to do these things!

Aside from what I considered to be a misplaced emphasis on dating and weekends away without children, this book had a lot of great encouragement for structuring your family life in a way that will build your marriage relationship.

The Better Mom website also has a For Better or for Kids 10 Day Challenge  you can sign up for, which will give you 10 days of email encouragement and video inspiration from the Schwenks to help you learn more about building your marriage during these challenging child-rearing years.


I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. I was not required to provide a favourable review, and all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure policy.

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