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If you’re new around these parts, Recent Reads is a monthly blog series where I recap the books that I read the previous month. I’ve been an avid reader since I was 6 years old and I’ve read thousands of books since then…. but reading so many books can be a problem because I tend to forget what I’ve previously read! I believe that life is too short and there are too many good books to spend time re-reading books, so I created this blog series as a way of recording which books I’ve read and to inspire others in finding new books to read as well.
I used to read anywhere from 5-20 books per month, depending on my life situation at the time. Right now, my goal is to read 2 books per month. Sometimes, I pick a “theme” for a particular month’s reading. This month’s book theme focused on marriage from a Christian perspective. As a reminder, a summary of the books (from Amazon or GoodReads) is provided in italics with my review of the book below.
Author and pastor Steve McVey has spent thousands of hours listening to and counseling women who face marriage difficulties. Many want to believe God is at work, but they don’t see how. They try to change their husband, but eventually become frustrated, hopeless, or disengaged. Starting from the truth that a wife can’t change her husband (or children)―only God can―Steve points women toward how God wants to change them by flooding their hearts with His generous grace so they can rest in His assurance of their worth when they feel pressured to do everything; trust, not fret, when they’re unsure about their husband’s spiritual leadership; see God’s bigger picture in the struggle with a prodigal child; take decisive, loving actions in a controlling or bullying relationship. In these and other situations, When Wives Walk in Grace gives specific, attitude-changing steps of faith to help women rest while God does the work in their marriage.
I wanted to enjoy this book. I firmly believe that a Christian marriage needs to have grace, so I agree with the concept of the book…. and that’s about it. As I was reading, I had this plaguing feeling that something didn’t quite sit right with me. I left the book feeling like the author believes you must be a mother to be a good Christian wife. The author also made statements throughout the book that I didn’t agree with.
In Chapter 8 entitled Confronting Bullies (which covers bullying/emotional abuse by a spouse), Mr. McVey stated “(…) You’ve been the victim only because you’ve allowed yourself to be the victim” (pg 75). Another statement I didn’t agree with was on page 138 in Chapter 16 Juggling Acts: “If you have equal duties outside of the home, you need to have an equitable distribution of duties in the home” (emphasis mine.) In a perfect world, the husband and wife would have a 50-50 split of household duties, but that’s not reality. At various points in marriage, there is an unequal divide in responsibilities because of work or health demands. For example, when we were stationed at Fort Knox, and I was working 2 part-time jobs, the majority of household duties fell on Andy because I worked between 60-80 hours a week at various points. Now that Andy’s job is much more demanding and he is not home as often as before, household duties are divided 75-25 with the majority of the weight falling on my shoulders. I know Andy would love to take on more responsibilities at home, but it isn’t realistic with his current job. The author made no mention of the fact that throughout a marriage, household duties are unequally divided for various reasons.
Usually I close my book reviews with suggestions on who might enjoy reading this book, but honestly, I’m not comfortable suggesting it to anyone since it left me with an “off” feeling. If you’re looking for a book about grace with your spouse, I would recommend the below book.
Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary L. Thomas
Your marriage is more than a sacred covenant with another person. It is a spiritual discipline designed to help you know God better, trust him more fully and love him more deeply. What if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy? Sacred Marriage doesn’t just offer techniques to make a marriage happier. It does contain practical tools, but what married Christians most need is help in becoming holier husbands and wives. Sacred Marriage offers that help with insights from Scripture, church history, time-tested wisdom from Christian classics, and examples from today’s marriages. Sacred Marriage reveals how marriage trains us to love God and others well, how it exposes sin and makes us more aware of God’s presence, how good marriages foster good prayer, how married sex feeds the spiritual life, and more. Sacred Marriage uncovers the mystery of God’s overarching purpose… It will most certainly change you. Because whether it is delightful or difficult, your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God, and to a spiritual integrity that, like salt, seasons the world around you with the savor of Christ.
On to a book that I did enjoy! The entire thesis of the book is that God designed marriage to draw us closer to Him. Now, that’s not to say you must be married to be a Christian; instead, the author was just arguing the common-held belief that to be a “good” Christian, you need to be single forever so you can focus all of your attention on God. Its thesis also counteracts the belief that many people hold about marriage: that it’s okay to leave because they “just weren’t happy anymore” or because they “didn’t love their spouse anymore.”
There were a lot of quotes in this book that I liked, but one of my favorites is from page 218: “Christianity does not direct us to focus on finding the right person; it calls us to become the right person. Our happiness is not determined by what is around us, but rather by how we deal with what is around us.” (emphasis mine). Wow! How many times have we thought the problem (whatever “the problem” is) lies completely with someone else when in reality, we need to also “get the log out of our own eye”? (to paraphrase Matthew 7:5).
This book is perfect for the still-kinda-newlyweds. You know, people like myself who have been married for only a few years. Long enough for the honeymoon bliss to fade, but still short enough to remember the honeymoon bliss like it was yesterday… because it practically was! 😉
What books did you read in March?
What books are you planning to read in April?