Complement: The Surprising Beauty of Choosing Together Over Separate in Marriage – Aaron Ivey and Jamie Ivey

Complement Aaron and Jamie Ivey
Complement: The Surprising Beauty of Choosing Together Over Separate in Marriage by Aaron Ivey, Jamie Ivey
Also by this author: God Made You to Be You
Published by B&H Publishing on March 2, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Marriage

Does your marriage feel stuck in a rut? Do you feel like you and your spouse are never on the same team? Do you want a flourishing and vibrant marriage, but wonder how in the world to get there?   Bestselling authors Jamie Ivey (host of the Happy Hour podcast) and Aaron Ivey have asked these tough questions too, and by God's grace and a lot of elbow grease, they've come out on the other side with a strong and healthy marriage. In Complement, you'll learn how you can too, as they walk you through the keys to building a satisfying and lasting marriage. With funny, real-life stories and key insights from Scripture, the Iveys can help you unite with your spouse, cheer each other on, respond the right way when you fail each other, and serve one another well—even in conflict or tough times! If you want a strong marriage (or simply to be a better better-half!), the Iveys will show you the way in Complement.  

This book is actually two books, joined together in a slipcover. Jamie Ivey wrote one and Aaron Ivey wrote the other. This is a very creative approach to a marriage book, since both spouses are able to fully express their personality, background, and ideas, without having to merge into a single voice or split up chapters between them. The Iveys wrote the preface and conclusion together, and planned out the subjects for ten chapters, but then wrote the rest independently. They encourage their readers to think of this as two halves of the same book, and to swap them with their spouse, reading both. I’ve never read anything like this before, and thought it was creative and appealing.

In Complement: The Surprising Beauty of Choosing Together Over Separate in Marriage, the Iveys write about their preconceived ideas about love, how they have grown, and how they have discovered God’s best for their marriage by obeying Him and honoring each other. The chapters cover love, service, cheering for each other, leading, following, fighting, forgiveness, sex, parenting, and living on mission together for God. Aaron and Jamie share similar and distinctive insights about each of these topics, and they address common hang-ups about any talk of submission in marriage, showing how they have both led and followed at different times, in different areas of their lives and marriage.

They challenge culturally constructed ideas and practices from inside and outside of the church, and emphasize the importance of mutual love and sacrifice. I have a few critiques, most significantly that neither of the parenting chapters acknowledge childless couples, but overall, this is a great resource that emphasizes love and God’s guidance over regimented rules and expectations. Also, many of the core messages apply to friendships and other relationships as well, and the books are full of practical wisdom for living life with others. I would encourage people who aren’t yet contemplating marriage to consider reading this, both to better shape their views about love and to give them practical insight into other close relationships.

My favorite thing about this duology is how individual it is, with both spouses expressing their unique personalities and life experiences through the text. Some readers will connect more with the authors than others, but regardless, you can get a glimpse of how real people have navigated their relationship and dealt with challenges along the way. Although many marriage books make generalized, stereotyped assumptions about husbands and wives, Jamie is the one who likes football, while Aaron is the artistic one, and as they convey their personalities, readers can get an example of how spouses can know and support each other as individuals, instead of adopting stereotyped ideas that don’t fit their lives or the nature of their relationship. I enjoyed both books, and would recommend them to married couples, people who are dating or considering marriage, and readers who are interested in life advice for living well with others.