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What Did You Expect?

Author Paul Tripp
Narrator Lloyd James
Runtime 10.75 Hrs. - Unabridged
Publisher christianaudio
Downloads ZIP M4B MP3
Release Date November 30, 1999
Availability: Unrestricted (available worldwide)

Marriage, according to Scripture, will always involve two flawed people living with each other in a fallen world. Yet, in pastor Paul Tripp's professional experience, the majority of couples enter marriage with unrealistic expectations, leaving them unprepared for the day-to-day realities of married life.

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Marriage, according to Scripture, will always involve two flawed people living with each other in a fallen world. Yet, in pastor Paul Tripp's professional experience, the majority of couples enter marriage with unrealistic expectations, leaving 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, which include honestly facing sin, weakness, and failure; willingness to change; and embodying Christ's love, will equip couples to develop a thriving, grace-based marriage in all circumstances and seasons of their relationship.

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Customer Reviews 10 item(s)

The most challenging book I've ever listened to
Take a look in the mirror. Really ask yourself if you ARE the spouse you think you are. Warning: This book may shake you to your core.
Be patient and listen to ALL of it... it took me until the end of chapter 12 to penetrate my thick skull.
Review by / (Posted on 11/14/2011)
One of the things I love...
One of the things I love about reading Paul Tripp is his giftedness for applying Scripture to daily life. In What Did You Expect, Tripp uses this ability to great benefit as he looks at six important commitments that Christian couples need in order to have healthy and God-honoring marriages.


In many marriage books, the authors somehow manage to ignore the darker parts of our nature. Writers often assume that people are always good and that marital problems are caused merely by miscommunication or by a lack of basic knowledge. Tripp is not so gullible. Taking an honest look at the consequences of two sinners coming together, Tripp makes it plain that we can never stop seeking God’s help and working to see that our marriages survive. We are rebels at heart, and Tripp handles that concept well.

Tripp also never lets go of the spiritual dimension of our marriages. This book is not a mere how-to, self-help, or communication manual. Tripp takes very seriously that our marriages have two dimensions, a vertical and a horizontal. While we might strive to have our horizontal relationship right, if we fail to make our marriages primarily about God, the vertical dimension, we will never see truly glorious married life.

Tripp also avoids two major pitfalls that I see in many marriage books. He does not spend page after page giving husbands date night ideas or telling them that, were they merely as romantic as the men in romantic comedies, their marriages would be picture perfect. Nor does Tripp assume that a how-to manual regarding physical gratification is what Christian married couples need. In both areas, I applaud Tripp for seeing into the real issues.


I love how Tripp’s years of biblical counseling experience provide him a wealth of illustrations to draw from as he walks us through our need to continually strive for excellence in our marriages. However, I will say that , at times, the rapid-fire stacking of illustration after illustration can make some of the chapters feel a bit long. I realize this is a personal preference and that others might love this feature, but I would have preferred a little less case study in the work.


What Did You Expect is an excellent book for couples to read together. Tripp is honest and fair in his assessment of the work that is before any married couple. This book does not fall into the traps that make so many marriage books sappy or unrealistic. This book is simply a helpful study of vitally important issues.


I was given a free audio copy of this work to review from As always, the production quality is excellent.
Review by / (Posted on 8/13/2010)
In “What did you expect?” Pastor...
In “What did you expect?” Pastor Paul Tripp clearly shares with us a biblical understanding of marriage. This book makes a very important contribution to the church in a day and an age when Christian marriages are struggling. Pastor Tripp steers us away from a self-centered view of marriage to a biblical view of marriage that edifies the couple and builds God’s kingdom.

The content of “What did you expect?” is so simple but biblical, powerful and profound. Pastor Tripp reminds us that we enter into marriage as sinners living in a fallen world. Therefore, Tripp encourages believers to commit to confession and forgiveness, growth and change, building a bond of trust, building a relationship of love, dealing with differences and working to protect the marriage.

I believe that “What did you expect?” will be helpful for couples regardless of where they are in their relationship. This book would be great for premarital counseling. It will help couples understand what is required to have a life-long, loving marriage. This book will also be helpful for married couples who need to be reminded of the commitment that they made to one another.

“What did you expect?” was well written and it included many true stories to help illustrate the principles. I really appreciated Lloyd James’ narration. James’ reading of this book made listening to this audio book a meaningful experience for me.

I express my appreciation to for allowing me to listen to this book as a part of their audio book reviews program.
Review by / (Posted on 8/6/2010)
The content of What Did You...
The content of What Did You Expect is dead on. Tripp is God-centered, Christ-exalting, and very real when it comes to dealing with the marital strife. With the entire book set up as a marriage counseling session. Each “session” points the person being counseled (the reader) as the problem in the marriage. Dr. Tripp continually points to “you” as the problem. It is easy for the counselor to tell the counselee that s/he is not at fault thus really making the problem worse.

Fortunately, Tripp nails this. By taking the focus off of the problems of the spouse, and, rightfully I might add, onto the person reading the book, Tripp effectively breaks down many barriers to counseling. After showing the reader that he is the cause of the problem, Dr. Tripp points him to Christ. That is the most important aspect of this book–Jesus Christ needs to be at the center of your marriage. Without Him, your marriage is in more trouble than you realize.

I do have one minor problem with the book (besides being aggravated that it was not written before I got married!) although it is very minor given the scope of the book. At the end of chapter 3, Tripp writes,

Reconciling your marriage begins when you begin to reconcile with God. It begins when you begin to pray this radical prayer: ‘Your kingdom come, you will be done, right here, right now in this marriage as it is in heaven.’ Good things happen as the result of that prayer!

My only concern is that this prayer might become a “magic” prayer causing the reader to become delusional thinking that just by merely reading it or saying it or repeating it, his marriage will be saved. I completely understand that Dr. Tripp does not intend for that to happen, but people have been putting their hope in prayers instead of Christ for so long that this must be cautioned against.

RE: The audio book itself

It was the best of the times and it was the worst times.

Lloyd James (not to be confused with Lloyd-Jones) became my favorite narrator with this book. He read this book quick enough to keep your attention but slow enough to allow the words to really sink in to your mind and then heart. His voice rose and fell when necessary and sped up with excitement when the context called for it. I was engaged with the “voice” the entire time and felt as though I was sitting in the counselor’s room.

With that said, christianaudio needs to reformat the audio files. In most cases, they format their downloaded files with the numbers as such: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, …20, 21, 22. This can become problematic when you download the files to your mp3 player. The mp3 player recognizes the order as such: 1, 10, 11, 12,….2, 20, 21, 22, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. You can see how this can be aggravating but not horrible to deal with.

This time, however, they formatted the files as such: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven….seventeen. It became a real pain to attempt to listen to the book since “eight” was the first file and one came towards the bottom. Having to search for those files almost caused me not to listen to the book. Thankfully, the content and narration was worth the effort. If you are going to purchase the audio book, I would advise getting the CD’s instead of the download. Still, the book is worth the struggle.

I am giving it four stars only because of the formatting issue.
Review by / (Posted on 8/5/2010)
Expectations for marriage, particularly among Christians,...
Expectations for marriage, particularly among Christians, are often way off the truth. They've led to unhappy marriages, many separations and divorces, and family break-ups. This book tackles pretty much every false expectation head-on.

It's longer than the typical audiobook, but that's because it's so thorough. Tripp looks at everything at the base level - family background and culture, respect, love, sex, character differences - he draws on many scarily real stories and suggests practical ways forward.

This really is very good at pinpointing problems couples face, getting to the root of it, and putting in place biblical solutions. I can honestly say that this is the best holistic guidebook for marriage I've read.

That said, the formula for each chapter is so well-formed that it runs the risk of becoming repetitive, and the structure is quite formal so if you'd rather read a more conversational book I don't think I'd recommend this one.

The audio version is excellent - the narrator is spot on and the text has been updated specifically for it. It's probably the best audio transition I've heard.

I'd recommend this book to any married couple who faces even minor challenges (and let's face it, who doesn't?) - your marriage will be strengthened I'm sure. I'd also recommend it to engaged couples - it will help to correct your expectations and prepare for the biggest challenge of your life!

I got this audiobook for free from the reviewer programme. I'm not required to give a positive review.
Review by / (Posted on 7/15/2010)
I am far too young to...
I am far too young to give marriage advice, but if I could recommend only one marriage book to you and your spouse (or fiance), it would be this one. Both my wife and I have been challenged by it, and everything the author states is rooted squarely on biblical principles. How you view yourself, your spouse, God, and your marriage is going to affect your vertical and horizontal relationships. But Tripp doesn't just give you a firm Scriptural understanding of those things, he addresses heart issues and really makes you think and challenges you to act. I have to say, it would have been a great addition to premarital counseling.

The only thing that bothered me was the narrator would take unnecessary pauses... when he spoke. After a while I didn't pay attention to it, so it might just have been me adjusting to a new narrator. Regardless, I loved the book and still say that if you are married or thinking about getting married, this is the book that needs to be on your shelf. Strike that. This is the book that needs to be open in your hands or playing in your headphones!
Review by / (Posted on 6/18/2010)
What Did You Expect? is the...
What Did You Expect? is the newest book on my "Top Books About Marriage" shelf. Pastor Paul Tripp digs into marriage and what it means for two sinners to be united from a true Biblical perspective.

It would take me way too long to even try to explain what I appreciate about this book, so instead I will just say that it is encouraging, convicting, challenging, uplifting, refreshing, and comforting. Understanding why we face some of the problems we do in marriage is a wonderful encouragement, and it's comforting to know that we are not alone in all of this. Tripp talks about Biblical principles and gives direct application for immediate use in our marriages.

This book should be a must-read for all couples considering marriage. It's what I would consider the text book for Christian marriages. The audio version - which I "read" - makes it easy for people who don't like to read still glean from this amazing resource.

The narration is wonderful and easy to listen to. It's a great way to feed your mind, and your marriage, while doing something else around the house.

Thanks to christian audio for the review copy.
Review by / (Posted on 6/15/2010)
Thank you again to (audio...
Thank you again to (audio book) for access to What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp (hard cover) published by: Crossway Books (April 30, 2010); 288 pages; 978-1433511769; Reviewed by Derek R. Iannelli-Smith

I regularly try to read a book from a biblical counseling perspective. I think I have found my 1yr check-up book for pre-marital and marital discipling. I regularly counsel couples that they need to live a posture of investing in their marriage every year. Do something, go to a conference, take a weekend, read a marriage book together, something. The temptation, is to short change this with a thought that goes something like this; “I already know that…” “Yep, got that…” “We are good…” The reality is, no couple ever sees themselves sitting in a counseling room answering the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being, don’t go to sleep as I am going to embed a fork in your forehead and 10 being the second coming of Jesus, where is your marriage?” The sad reality is that many couples have different numbers, and many times the husband’s number is 2-4 numbers higher than the wives.

One of the great things about getting the book on top of the audio is that I can re-visit and highlight those chapters that impacted me and assimilate those thoughts in my heart. Chapters 5 & 6 were my favorite chapters! A great thing about audios is that you can play them over and over until it embeds in your heart as well.

Here are some quotes from the book that I need to share… from Chapter 5 – Commitment 1: Coming Clean: Confession

I was reminded once again that hopelessness is a way of seeing, not a state of being.

Grace decimates self-righteousness.

It is a grace to be willing to listen and consider criticism and rebuke. It is hard to see ourselves with clarity and hard to accept what we see when we do. It is so easy to be defensive. All of us carry inside ourselves an inner lawyer who is easily activated and quickly rises to our defense.

Healthy relationships have 2 essential character qualities. First is the humility of approachability…The second is the courage of loving honesty.

You see, confession shouldn’t be this scary thing we do our best to avoid; and sin, weakness, and failure should not be a constant elephant in the room that husbands and wives know is there but cannot talk about.

(We must live…) The Daily Habits of a Confession Lifestyle;

1. We will be lovingly honest.

2. We will be humble when exposed.

3. We will not excuse.

4. We will be quick to admit wrongs.

5. We will listen and examine.

6. We will greet confession with encouragement.

7. We will be patient, persevering, and gentle in the face of wrong.

8. We will not return to the past.

9. We will put our hope in Christ.

Chapter 6: Commitment 1: Canceling Debts (forgiveness);

Then Why Don’t People Just Forgive

(because…) Here are some of the dark ‘benefits’ of unforgiveness;

1. Debt is power.

2. Debt is identity.

3. Debt is entitlement.

4. Debt is weaponry.

5. Debt puts us in God’s position.

What Is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a vertical commitment that is followed by a horizontal transaction.

Forgiveness is a vertical commitment and relational transaction that is to occur in moments when sin has gotten in the way of the unity, love, and understanding that God welcomes us to enjoy as His children in marriage.

The reason why you invest in your marriage and are intentional in it (Connie and I have been married 14 years, known each other for 16.) is that you do get many basics, and I was reminded in “What Did You Expect?”:

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:12-14 (ESV)

Thank you Christianaudio, Thank you Paul David Tripp, for pointing me back to a redeeming relationship with my gift, kindness, and grace from God:

Connie and me . I love you babe and I am thankful for you!
Review by / (Posted on 6/6/2010)
I received the audio version of...
I received the audio version of this book from for review purposes.

I don't know what I was expecting from this audio book. I have been married 25 years and we have had our ups and downs. I guess I was expecting a little bit of encouragement. Whatever I was looking for wasn't what I got. Not to say this book was bad. On the contrary it wasn't bad at all. while I was listening to it I kept thinking to myself that this would be a good book for pre marital counseling.

Pual Tripp does bring out one point well in the book and that we are all sinners and should come to our marriages and partners with that fact in mind. (I know that that fact alone helps me when I get irrated with my spouse, the Realization that I too an a sinner).

This was a good book if you are planning on getting married, are just married or are going through a rough patch.
Review by / (Posted on 6/2/2010)
What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the...
What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
I actually listened to this book in Audio book for from Christian Audio.

I was fortunate enough to get it FREE as part of the Christianaudio reviewer program.

This must be the definitive Christian marriage book. I could not see why you would ever need to purchase another book on marriage! Perhaps to get a deeper theological understanding, in which case I would recommend, “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas - see my review on facebook here.

In this book Paul Tripp zeros in on the actual causes of problems in marriage. He does not see a crack in a marriage and try to fill it “be nice to your spouse” platitudes, or you must make a promise or vow to change, or any other religious marital crack filler, he actually looks at why there is a crack there in the first place. The reason a wall cracks in a house is because the foundations have shifted, they are no longer where they were designed to be. So it is with our marriages. Covering the cracks in the walls of our houses and painting them with pretty paint might not let anyone else see that there are cracks – but they are still there. We cannot grow and change in our marriages until those foundations are firmed up.

Tripp tells us how to identify where the foundations have shifted. He use the Word of God along with real-life case studies that cover most of the common problems experienced in contemporary marriages, and then he applies the Word again to show the solution. There is no quick fix, there is no easy way out, there is no 5 step formula, there is however a lot of hard (heart) work.

Great marriages become great marriages because the people in them have devoted themselves to working towards having a great marriage, and do the work required to make it happen.

The Narrator – Lloyd James did a good job – he actually sounds a lot like Tripp. He tone did get a bit monotonous towards the end of the marathon 10.75 hours of audio book. The audio book gives a good “eagles eye view” of this 288 page volume, but I think it would be best to have the actual book (or a PDF version) as a reference for working through, and referring back to over and over again.

Bottom line is I totally implore every person to read this book. If you are married, applying what you learn will bring you closer to Christ and to each other, if you are engaged, you can be forewarned of the problems that can exist and start to work on the foundations now. If you are single, this book will help you in looking for a spouse that will complement you and assist you as you strive to live the life for which God created you – to image his glory to all of creation.
Review by / (Posted on 6/1/2010)