See-Through Marriage: Experiencing the Freedom and Joy of Being Fully Known and Fully Loved
By Ryan and Selena Frederick
After the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, I think marital vows will be updated to include taking your spouse “…in sickness and in quarantine.”
There is no better way to test the strength of your marriage and challenge the depths of how well you know your Mr. or Mrs., like really know them, than shutting down the world (so to speak) and being quarantined to the confines of your home for months on end. Being forced to physically communicate and cohabitate solely with those whom you share a last name with will pull and stretch you to your very limits. There is nowhere to hide when you have nowhere to go and nothing to hide when you are exposed 24/7.
Authenticity may have been the buzz word, common goal or sought-after trait of 2019 but it has nothing on the realness of transparency in 2020.
Being transparent, specifically, in marriage, is like being vulnerable on steroids. It is reality lived out in real life on real time. Like being naked with no clothes in sight, you are out there for the whole world to see…with every last bit of you on display. It is raw, rough, and sometimes, really hard. But if you ask me, it is the best way to live because it is the only way to be fully known and deeply loved. Isn’t that what we all desire?
Ryan and Selena Frederick make the case for transparency and disclosure in a marital relationship in their book See-Through Marriage: Experiencing the Freedom and Joy of Being Fully Known and Fully Loved. The Fredericks are the couple behind the thriving online community and podcast, Fierce Marriage, and are the co-authors of a book with the same title. They describe living a see-through marriage as a couple “offering up their whole selves, including their brokenness, with a will and desire to see it rooted out and transformed by God.” They say vulnerably confessing sin or openly admitting doubts “will always be paired with tangible steps toward life transformation.” (pg. 31 of See-Through Marriage)
Couples, and most people for that matter, desire to be fully known and deeply loved but too often withhold the most intimate parts of themselves for fear of being rejected, judged or creating unwanted tension within their relationship. As a result, most individuals tend to live life on the surface, showcasing only the things and traits they believe are acceptable to the public (hello, social media!). Removing the filter of this lifestyle will reveal the depths of a person’s soul while exposing the condition of their heart. This type of transparency will ultimately bring closeness, wholeness and intimacy to a relationship but taking the first step forward is rarely easy.
See-Through Marriage guides the reader as they dig through the emotional, physical and/or psychological baggage buried beneath the surface. In See-Through Marriage, that begins with uncovering one’s self first in order to become selfless in a marital relationship. This was one of the things I enjoyed the most about this book, as compared to other marriage books I’ve read, because I believe change must start inward before anything can be accomplished outward. If you think about it, it makes sense – when you are able to understand yourself and essentially why you are the way you are, you will feel more comfortable opening up to your spouse and sharing the depths of your heart. There are several chapters dedicated to discovering and understanding the inner workings of one’s spiritual self through physiological and psychological examination. I found this to be incredibly valuable and gained so much insight as well as wisdom into how I personally think, react and respond emotionally and communicatively.
Another constructive tool used throughout See-Through Marriage is the sharing of personal stories as well as testimonies from other couples who have experienced (or are currently experiencing) marital challenges. The testimonies encourage the reader to communicate their own marital struggles with a confidant, counselor, or their spouse while reminding the reader they are not alone in their fight to seek spiritual oneness with their spouse. While this adds a “me too” relatability to the book, the authors fall short on openly disclosing their own struggles and instead lean on the stories of others to carry the weight of martial transparency.**
See-Through Marriage is a book strongly rooted in biblical truth and does not shy away from tackling some tough topics including cultivating a healthy sex-life, mastering various forms of communication, establishing and maintaining friendships, amongst others. See-Through Marriage is a practical and applicable book for married couples in all seasons of life, but I think it is especially valuable for engaged couples who are undergoing pre-marital counseling. Because there are discussion questions at the end of each chapter, I would also recommend See-Through Marriage to be read as a small group or alongside your spouse. Whatever stage your relationship may be in, See-Through Marriage will help lead you out of the darkness and into the light so you can experience the freedom of being fully known and deeply loved.
* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
**(Note: I have not read Fierce Marriage nor have I followed or listened to the Fierce Marriage podcast prior to reading See-Through Marriage. It is possible and perhaps likely that the Fredericks have shared their story more vulnerably through these platforms. I did not previously know anything about this couple prior to reading See-Through Marriage and after reading this book about transparency I feel I still do not have much depth or insight into the authors as individuals and as a couple.)