"Happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of chance as it is a matter of choice. Choosing to be happy means choosing to think on things that are good and noble and right and lovely and pure—including your spouse’s most positive, admirable, and endearing qualities. Our marriages can’t help but benefit when we discipline ourselves to do this. That’s the purpose of this journal in a nutshell."
~from back cover
This is the second of Jennifer Flander's journaling series I've checked out and so far I am really loving them! The layout is simple yet beautifully thought out and each journal in the series (each journal is geared toward a specific audience -- boys, girls, wives, husbands, nature lovers, cooks, etc.) offers helpful, thought-provoking prompts that will inspire people using these journals to get a little deep with their emotional selves, work some stuff out, but have a laugh too. And the artwork totally makes these! Right off the bat,the intro page on How Do I Love Thee? is stunning!
The clipart used to decorate the journal pages here is adorablely Victorian / Edwardian in theme and Flanders is a pro at laying everything out so that the image perfectly enhances the writing prompt:
The early pages of the journal encourages wives to record thoughts and memories on their early years -- girlhood, college days, single in the city, etc -- giving wives a chance to look back and see how they've changed / progressed over the years. From single days memories the sections ease into memories of how you came to know your spouse, from the first meeting to a place to record details of the first date to comparisons between your friends and his. From there you can write memories of the proposal day / night and how your friends & family reacted to the news. The journal then progresses into places to record wedding planning & ceremony details, advice you were given in those early days (that maybe you need to be reminded of!), books that were memorable to you at the time, that sort of thing. Following that section, you record thoughts on your marriage as it currently is, but the thing to note here is that this journal is meant to focus on documenting all your spouse's most beautiful qualities -- something to return to whenever you two hit choppy seas!
As you might guess from the title, this journal also includes a full page illustrated print of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem "How Do I Love Thee?"
In her introduction, Flanders points out that there is no one way to use this journal. Wives are encouraged to not only write but sketch or doodle thoughts or even paste in favorite photos. One page of the journal even throws in a word search! Another feature I really enjoy about these journals is that the user is not necessarily limited to just journaling. One could also copy & print pages from these books and use them in other journaling or scrapbooking projects. The artwork also inspires one to think of DIY gift ideas. Some of the illustrations are full page pieces that could easily be scanned, printed, colored in and framed for a low-cost, high-sentiment gift. Additionally, if you're not married yourself, this would still make a lovely and memorable gift for any bride to be you happen to know. However you want to go about it, I still say this whole series of journals is great fun!