By Joey O'Connor
Word Books, 192 pp.
Weddings, says Joey O'Connor, are an alien experience, with as many complications as a shuttle launching. Not to fear, O'Connor has proclaimed himself a "marriage space explorer extrordinaire," prepared to use humor and good advice to show couples how to be both happy and married. Unfortunately, O'Connor's book, which contains a lot of marital advice and a few scattered mentions of God, doesn't get off the ground.
The author of 11 other books about religion and relationships with equally long titles ("I Know You Love Me But Do You Like Me? How to Become Your Mate's Best Friend" and "Women are Always Right and Men Are Never Wrong"), O'Connor seems to have honed his writing style through his steady stream of speaking engagements. The book reads like the script of a motivational talk, full of not-so-funny anecdotes, cliched aphorisms and strained metaphors: "When you're focused on developing a together-forever kind of love," he writes, "your marriage is the center of life's cinnamon roll. With a together-forever love, you get to toast and to taste the champagne that bubbles up between you. A together-forever love is the juicy, chocolate-dipped strawberry grown in the garden of your friendship."
However the book as a whole is neither inspirational, nor is it moving. It is awkward, especially when it comes to the few spiritual messages O'Connor wedges in. A lighthearted story about bad dates is followed by a plea to accept God's love and Christ's sacrifice if you want to make your marriage last. And then it's back to another silly story.
Many of O'Connor's anecdotes seem pointless, and, even for a book that is intended for men, pointlessly sexist. "The way I see it is that two guys (the groom and the bride's father) are coughing up all sorts of cash to get this woman married," he explains. "So why shouldn't the other guys in attendance feel some financial pain in their walletus maximus if they want to dance with the bride?" Another chapter implores women to wear lingerie instead of Lanz, a loose-fitting nightgown. O'Connor has even created a chart to compare the attributes of lingerie and Lanz, which includes: "Lingerie makes guys hot-blooded, Lanz keeps a woman cold-blooded."
Though overall the Christian content of the book is minimal, O'Connor could have easily broadened his audience by choosing non-denominational language. As it is, 0Officiants are always described as male and most references to God include Jesus Christ.
Since it's not always clear when O'Connor is trying to be funny and when he's being sincere, it's easy to mistake his bad wedding humor for honest advice. For example, he tells his male readers: "If you want to have a smooth engagement, you say yes when she wants you to say yes, and no when she wants you to say no." While this may be his idea of a real knee-slapper, much of his actual advice and opinions are potentially damaging to a new relationship.
Throughout the book, O'Connor asserts that weddings are the sole domain of the bride and advises grooms to just keep their mouths shut and take advantage of their three simple responsibilities: getting a tux, going to the wedding rehearsal, and showing up at the church. This is no way to begin a relationship that should be built on trust and open-communication. Besides, most couples these days plan their weddings together, like the partnership celebrated on their big day.