Marriage, according to Scripture, will always involve two flawed people living with each other in a fallen world. Yet, in counselor Paul Tripp’s professional experience, the majority of couples enter marriage with far different expectations. These unrealistic expectations leave them unprepared for the day-to-day realities of married life.
This unique book introduces a biblical and practical approach to those realities that is rooted in God’s faithfulness and Scripture’s teaching on sin and grace. “Spouses need to be reconciled to each other and to God on a daily basis,” Tripp declares. “Since we’re always sinners married to sinners, reconciliation isn’t just the right response in moments of failure. It must be the lifestyle of any healthy marriage.”
What Did You Expect? presents six practical commitments that give shape and momentum to such a lifestyle. These commitments—ranging from “We will honestly face our sin, weakness, and failure” to “We will change our agenda” and “We will protect our relationship”—will equip couples to develop a thriving, grace-based marriage in all circumstances and seasons of their relationship.
“Noel and I listened to most of this book driving in the car! Wise words. Authentic experience. Provocative application. Turned a long trip into a fruitful two-person marriage seminar.”
—John Piper, Founder, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary
“When Paul Tripp teaches, preaches, or writes he does so through the lens of the gospel. In What Did You Expect?, Paul faithfully and brilliantly lets the gospel bear its weight on the messiness and beauty of marriage. I, personally, found the book to be helpful, and we use it extensively at The Village.”
—Matt Chandler, Pastor, The Village Church; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network
“The reason What Did You Expect? is so powerful is not because Paul Tripp is a marriage expert with tips and tricks to fix your problems, it’s because his teaching is drenched in the gospel and the Word of God. This honest book will help you see yourself and your spouse in a new light as it shows you who Jesus is and how to connect his redeeming grace to the daily realities of your marriage. Singles and engaged couples will benefit from it, too.”
—Joshua Harris, Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland; author, Dug Down Deep
“Paul Tripp understands, like few others, how grace alone can transform your marriage. With great honesty and clarity, Paul makes the liberating point that when the only thing you have to offer your spouse is your acknowledged weaknesses and wimpishness, your realized faults and failures, and your recognized inabilities and incompetence, the grace of God shows up. And when grace reigns in a relationship, scorekeeping comes to an end and we become free from the slavish burden of having to fix one another. If you’re going to read one book on marriage, read this one.”
—Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; author, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
“At once deeply theological and practically relevant, this is one of the top books on marriage I have ever read. Paul Tripp allows readers to examine marriage through a biblical lens so that we understand how God can graciously heal our hurting homes. As a pastor, I will implore our people to read this book as soon as it is available.”
—Chris Brauns, author, Unpacking Forgiveness; Pastor, The Red Brick Church, Stillman Valley, Illinois
“What I’ve come to expect from Paul Tripp is consistently deep, transparent, biblical, wise, practical, gospel-driven counsel. Rather than muddying the water with self-focused strategies designed to meet our ever-multiplying needs, Paul, as the seasoned soul-physician he is, correctly diagnoses our problems and provides the cure—humble faith in Jesus Christ. I wasn’t disappointed. You won’t be either.”
—Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, counselor; speaker; author, Found in Him
“Paul Tripp brings many years of counseling, growth as a husband, and deepening discovery of the liberating power of grace to this realistic and challenging guide to God’s engagement in redeeming marriages that are threatened by complacency, misunderstanding, and selfishness. The Bible’s message of the humbling and healing power of Christ’s mercy and the powerful presence of his Spirit in our homes comes through loud and clear. The daily practicality of gospel doctrine is made crystal clear by Tripp’s transparency about his personal missteps in becoming a Christ-reflecting husband and the many examples of couples who have discovered that they are sinners married to sinners. But that the third, divine Party in marriage gives hope and change when unrealistic expectations are shattered and when we confront our sin. But be warned: Tripp’s diagnostic questions are downright uncomfortable. Even those with strong marriages by God’s grace will find their deep tendencies toward self-coronation challenged!”
—Dennis E. Johnson, Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Seminary California
“Paul Tripp issues a challenge for couples to roll up their sleeves, get to work, and do what it takes to build a God-honoring relationship. He presents six commitments for couples to make, and contained within each is insightful, practical, and effective advice on how to construct a loving, growing, grace-soaked marriage.”
—Mary A. Kassian, Professor of Women's Studies, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild
1. What Did You Expect?
2. Reason to Continue
3. Whose Kingdom?
4. Day by Day
Part 1: We will give ourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness.
5. Coming Clean: Confession
6. Canceling Debts
Part 2: We will make growth and change our daily agenda.
7. Pulling Weeds
8. Planting Seeds
Part 3: We will work together to build a sturdy bond of trust.
9. Sticking Out Your Neck
10. Someone to Be Trusted
Part 4: We will commit to building a relationship of love.
11. All You Need Is Love
12. Ready, Willing, and Waiting
Part 5: We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace.
13. Amazing Grace
14. Before Dark
Part 6: We will work to protect our marriage.
15. Eyes Wide Open
16. On Your Knees
17. Worship, Work, and Grace