I had to read "I Married You" for a seminary Premarital/Marital counseling course, and I found it to be quite fascinating. I was particularly intrigued by the setting - an unnamed country in Africa. That set it apart from most marriage books right from the start, since along with the usual relational insights, "I Married You" acted as a window into another culture's relationships with God and each other. Of course there were differences, such as the intriguing way the African church service was conducted compared to a typical white American one. However, the universal relational issues Trobisch portrays really enabled me to identify with persons I am united with by faith, if not by race or culture.
Regardless of where in the world one calls "home", Trobisch makes a solid case for the sanctity and strength of marriage as an institution. The book's theme is based on the classic Biblical marriage passage Genesis 2:24, boiled down to "leave, cleave, and become one flesh." Leaving occurs when the man and woman enter into a legal relationship and create a family unit that is independent from their parents. Then, they cleave together as one in an exclusive relationship, and finally become one flesh in body, soul, and spirit, sharing everything. It is this foundation that forms marriage as God intended it. Trobisch goes on to Biblically debunk the idea that the marriage union is meant to subvert women and empower men to dominate them. He also shows how pitfalls like premarital sex can damage the marriage relationship before it even begins. Helpfully, he makes his points by using intuitively recognizable allegories and illustrations that, while very relevant to African culture, are easily understood by the average Westerner. For example, a marriage philosophy that denigrates women and children is referred to as the "garden" concept (very agricultural in nature), while the ideal union is symbolized by the image of a three-legged stool (a visual aid suggested to Trobisch by an elderly African woman in order to liven up his plainer "triangle" illustration). As for the day-to-day aspects of marriage, Trobisch suggests ways that a couple can discover more about themselves and their relationship. An example is the "quarrel" test, where the spouses honestly question whether or not they can really forgive each other and resolve conflict. Unstable marriage relationships are discussed as well, such as the "empty" marriage, characterized by lack of love and an increase in alienation.
The book's main strength lies with Trobisch's skill in identifying the above principles within the context of real-life relationships, including his own marriage. "I Married You" is not just another dry, sugarcoated "how-to" marriage manual. Instead, we can identify with everyone Trobisch encounters, from the somewhat immature single man in his 30s with an idealized portrait of a wife that no real woman could match, to Trobisch's own long-suffering wife Ingrid. Indeed, one of the most affecting parts of the book is seeing Trobisch absolutely blow it with her, right after multiple days of teaching and counseling others concerning the ideals listed above! It is this kind of transparent honesty that really set "I Married You" above other books in the genre. My only gripe would be the inadequate treatment Trobisch gives to the single life as a valid alternative to marriage. However, such a rabbit trail would have veered too far from the book's central theme, so he can be forgiven for that small transgression. Overall, I can enthusiastically recommend this book as required reading for anyone interested in this topic, particularly engaged couples.