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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.

Review

“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 & 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, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network; author, The Mingling of Souls

“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, Former Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland; author, Dug Down Deep

“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, Pastor, The Red Brick Church, Stillman Valley, Illinois; author, Unpacking Forgiveness, Bound Together, and When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search

“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

About the Author

Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is also the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care, under the auspices of the Association of Biblical Counselors. He has written a number of popular books on Christian living, including What Did You Expect?, Dangerous Calling, Sex and Money, and New Morning Mercies. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Luella and they have four grown children. For more information and resources visit paultrippministries.org.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
383 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Ashley
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This has some great and convicting advice for *most* marriages
Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2018
This has some great and convicting advice for *most* marriages. There were many times that this book called me to repentance and helped me see my actions more clearly, as well as my spouse''s. There is a lot of generic, broad-brushed advice that would be great for a lot of... See more
This has some great and convicting advice for *most* marriages. There were many times that this book called me to repentance and helped me see my actions more clearly, as well as my spouse''s. There is a lot of generic, broad-brushed advice that would be great for a lot of people. However, the longer I live the more I come to truly believe that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to most things in life, especially people and relationships. And it is rarely a good idea to put all your trust in a book (other than the Bible) to give you answers to your unique situation. There were a few prescriptive things in this book that I had been doing, that at the advice of my Biblical counselor I needed to stop - because of the unique dynamic between my husband and me. I just think that we need to honor the individuality of each person instead of putting people in boxes. So keep that in mind if you do decide to pick this book up.

Paul Tripp''s writing style can come across condescending at times as well - it often felt that he was talking down to me. And he made many assumptions about the reader - he would say, "Now, I know what you''re thinking - " and it was almost never what I was thinking. Maybe this is the way he talks to people in real life, which is probably fine with some people. But there are also those who would be rubbed the wrong way by it, and I am one of them. I worked hard to look past all of this while reading the book because I wanted to hear anything that God had to say to me. But it definitely is an element that diminishes my trust in the book''s content a tad.

Overall, I think it''s a great marriage primer. I love that the root of most of his advice and analyses is Jesus and Scripture. I would recommend it, but (as I would with any marriage book) I would say to use wisdom and discernment. And if you are having marriage problems, get a Biblical counselor. A book won''t fix everything. Also, this does not feel like a great book for anyone who has encountered adultery, but that is just my opinion.
31 people found this helpful
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ARTandon
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
How to Work toward a Marriage that Is Better Than Expected
Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2014
Tripp has been one of my favorite author''s since I read "Instruments in the Redeemer''s Hand" in seminary. This is a great book! It''s greatness does not lie in its helpful example or in lists of practical steps toward achieving a better marriage, though these are... See more
Tripp has been one of my favorite author''s since I read "Instruments in the Redeemer''s Hand" in seminary. This is a great book! It''s greatness does not lie in its helpful example or in lists of practical steps toward achieving a better marriage, though these are included and are very helpful. The greatness of this book lies in its consistent message that the only hope for a God-honoring, joy-filled marriage is found in the grace extended to us at the cross.

This book helped me to see that the biggest threat to my marriage lies within. When I insist on building up my "kingdom" rather than submitting to the just rule and plans of His kingdom, my marriage will be in trouble. But when my wife and I, instead, give up on our "kingdoms" and truly seek to participate in the building up of His kingdom, He will do an awesome work both in and through our marriage.

Buy this book. Read it WITH your spouse. Prayerfully read it with an open heart and mind and God will use this book to open your eyes to the areas where you need to be reminded of His grace.
26 people found this helpful
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Sherri Meeks-Graham
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
It is written....GOD MUST BE AT THE HEAD OF ALL THINGS
Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2017
Excellent read! I would recommend this book to EVERYONE considering marriage...engagement....married...seperated...and divorced. The lessons contained are realistics and helps couples understand that the romantic side of love is not enough to sustain even the most... See more
Excellent read! I would recommend this book to EVERYONE considering marriage...engagement....married...seperated...and divorced. The lessons contained are realistics and helps couples understand that the romantic side of love is not enough to sustain even the most profound level of love for we are also have romanticize what love truly is. God is pleased when we please God. Following God''s will in terms if how we treat one another is how we maintain peace in marriage. Godly grace exercised in marriage is the example of how we get through the marriage with grace.
12 people found this helpful
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Josh the Long
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is the best book on marriage my wife and I have read
Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2014
This is the best book on marriage my wife and I have read. We tried several others, but none of them really jived with who we were and the struggles we were experiencing. The first 13 months of our marriage were really difficult, I think it was partly... See more
This is the best book on marriage my wife and I have read.

We tried several others, but none of them really jived with who we were and the struggles we were experiencing.

The first 13 months of our marriage were really difficult, I think it was partly because we were so different, and partly because we were so sinful at heart. We ended up in a small group from a church where they were going through this book, and it changed our marriage (as cliche as that sounds).

This book deals with the heart, and how wickedly evil it can be if you''re going to be really honest with yourself. It really helped us to see our weaknesses, and in light of Christ "when I am weak, then I am strong."

The stories in it are kind of cheesy and long winded at times, but I think they help get the point across.

I can''t recommend it enough, and I''m going to buy it for my newly married friends (along with a fun gift).
19 people found this helpful
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Pastor Eric
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
More For Your Marriage
Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2012
Marriage is tough. While most couples enter into the covenant of marriage with expectations of eternal bliss and constant happiness, reality always comes crashing down. What else can be expected when you have two sinners married to one another? Personal selfishness will... See more
Marriage is tough. While most couples enter into the covenant of marriage with expectations of eternal bliss and constant happiness, reality always comes crashing down. What else can be expected when you have two sinners married to one another? Personal selfishness will create conflict after conflict until disillusionment and disappointment overtakes the relationship. A remedy is needed but where is it to be found?

Paul Tripp gives us the Biblical answer. Believers are not alone in their struggle. Although living in a fallen world with sinful desires in every heart, the grace of God is near. He is powerful, faithful, and willing to craft marriages according to His design. In chapter after chapter, the reader sees how this truth is accomplished. Far from giving simplistic answers, the author turns directly to scripture. Where most books tell couples to spend more time together and plan a date night, this book turns directly to worship as the most important aspect of any marriage. A couple who is committed to the worship of God is a couple ready to be transformed.

The book does not pull any punches as it directly lays out the commitments a believer must practice by the grace of God. It avoids easy answers and shortcuts, but challenges those willing to put in the work. The result is lasting change and blessed marriages. With so many marriage books on the shelf, it is often hard to choose which ones are worthy of time. This book certainly deserves a place. It is one of the best marriage books written in recent years. Also of note, there is a DVD series that presents much of this teaching in a seminar format. That study is worth a look as well.
3 people found this helpful
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J.Web
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good content. Disappointing writing.
Reviewed in the United States on March 5, 2015
I feel mixed emotions about this book. The content was AMAZINGLY helpful. (I mentor young married couples and am eager for them to think about the ideas and statements in this book). However, the writing is so loose, redundant and rambling that I am hesitant to hand my... See more
I feel mixed emotions about this book. The content was AMAZINGLY helpful. (I mentor young married couples and am eager for them to think about the ideas and statements in this book). However, the writing is so loose, redundant and rambling that I am hesitant to hand my friends this book.
15 people found this helpful
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Joy S. Frady
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Just What I Expected
Reviewed in the United States on January 30, 2013
Another excellent book from Paul David Tripp. I read this book at the same time that I began to read his newer book "Dangerous Calling." I was extremely impressed with that book, but this book on marriage is also outstanding. Tripp blows away the false expectations so many... See more
Another excellent book from Paul David Tripp. I read this book at the same time that I began to read his newer book "Dangerous Calling." I was extremely impressed with that book, but this book on marriage is also outstanding. Tripp blows away the false expectations so many couples have when entering marriage. This is a book that deals with "in the trenches" marriage issues, matters of the heart. This is not a book primarily about adultery or other marriage-busting problems. It is more about the slow erosion that happens when false expectations collide with idols of the heart. Tripp is so good at focusing on the realities of marriage that some readers could be overwhelmed by a sense of defeat when they consider their failures. Tripp seasons his words with grace and is careful to point to the gospel and the power of Christ to deliver us from ourselves, yet the book could still be read with a negative slant, just by the sheer number of negative examples he presents. This, however, is my only real critique of a book that will provide help to many couples who heed its central message that true love for your spouse and a strong marriage comes when husband and wife focus on God and away from self.
4 people found this helpful
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J. D. Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Favorite book on marriage
Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2010
I had heard plenty of good reports about Paul David Tripp''s latest release, What Did You Expect??: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (Crossway Books, 2010), and when I was recently asked to officiate a wedding for a young couple I thought it a perfect opportunity to read... See more
I had heard plenty of good reports about Paul David Tripp''s latest release, What Did You Expect??: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (Crossway Books, 2010), and when I was recently asked to officiate a wedding for a young couple I thought it a perfect opportunity to read the book and see if it could be useful in pre-marital counseling. Tripp''s book is obviously designed to help those who are struggling in their marriages, but the foundations and practical applications are exactly what''s needed for every season of marriage. As the man himself writes, this book is "a detailed description of the daily work of love that must be done with commitment and joy when a flawed person is married to a flawed person and they are living in a fallen world." That covers everyone in every situation this side of eternity.

The book begins with some key principals that underpin the rest of the work, namely the problem of selfishness, the focus on day by day small decisions/actions that lead to the big crises of life, and most importantly the realistic hopefulness that comes from the Gospel. After these foundations come six commitments, each of which receive multiple chapters. The commitments are:

"1) We will give ourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness.

2) We will make growth and change our daily agenda.

3) We will work together to build a sturdy bond of trust.

4) We will commit to building a relationship of love.

5) We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace.

6) We will work to protect our marriage."

Each chapter features the story of a couple in crisis, how they got there and then Tripp offers the solution that is drawn from the application of the commitment, those being drawn from the foundational principals, which in turn are all drawn from the Gospel. This is the reason that I give absolute, unabashed recommendation for this book. Tripp doesn''t lead his readers down some self-seeking inwardly-fixated therapy session. He is not prone to the modern tendency to blame one''s parents, environment or breakfast. Instead, he calls sin for what it is, points to Jesus as the only way to deal with sin and then models that same forgiveness in marriage. You see the heart of a pastor and counselor on every page.

I will admit the book is not flawless - there appear to be some repetitions of passages - but even this adds to the weight of the message Tripp is bringing. Other than the repetition, the writing is fluid and engaging, and the points are clearly made. I would love to see some study guide material for the book, especially how Tripp would vary that material depending on audience (pre-marital, marital check-up, marital crisis), but for now I''ll be working on my own so that I can employ this book for as many people as I get opportunity.

Bottom line, wherever your marriage is at, this book is worthy of your time and investment. It is both deeply theological and intensely practical. Read it, then do as it instructs, and watch as your marriage grows in health, strength and beauty.
2 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

B. Du-cille
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 6, 2014
Highly respected author and he has a lot of good stuff to say. Good for those engaged too, surely?!
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Christine Lawther
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Amazing discoveries in God''s perceptive
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 9, 2014
A book that every married couple to invest in because it will either themselves or another couple. It''s easy to read and once you start to read you don''t want to stop. Such an an inspirational book and thanks to my friend who told me about it
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Kayshia
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
great
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 4, 2015
Good book really changed my outlook and helped me with my .marriage
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HSK
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 11, 2015
It was hat I expected!
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Maximina
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A wonderful book!
Reviewed in Germany on September 12, 2014
I read and read this book and I find new good things every time. I recommend this book to everybody who wants to learn more about marriage like God has created from the beginning, then marriage was His Invention. TO LORD THE GLORY!
2 people found this helpful
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