One of my favorite marriage bloggers is Sheila Wray Gregoire of To Love, Honor and Vacuum. I often recommend her excellent book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, especially for wives embarking on the marriage journey.
She recently released another book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, which she discussed a bit in her guest post here last Thursday. Today I want to give my own take. Is this book worth getting? Who is this book for? Should you read 9 Thoughts?
9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage is written for Christian wives—whether they are heartily struggling in their marriage, wanting to improve a lackluster relationship, or simply hoping to strengthen an already solid bond. Sheila walks the reader through nine separate ideas about marriage that are likely different from the pat answers you’ve heard in the past.
Take, for instance, her chapter on being a peacemaker rather than a peacekeeper. I’ve known marriages with a lot of peacekeeping that were stale and distant or where resentment brewed underneath for one of the spouses who had restrained their opinions — and really, themselves — for years. Sheila tackles the erroneous presumption that absence of conflict means peace.
When it comes to sex specifically, Sheila’s chapter on how having sex and making love are not the same thing, highlighting the problems we’ve had in moving sex from spiritual and emotional intimacy to purely physical pleasure. Yes, of course it should feel good, but sex as God designed is so much more.
Sheila gives specifics on where we’ve gone astray and how to reclaim sexual intimacy for your marriage. She gets practical with the differences in how men and women approach sexual arousal, challenges with low libido, and the damaging effects of pornography. She talks about how to address sexual pain and make sex pleasurable.
What else will this marriage book give you that others won’t?
I most appreciate how Sheila makes things simple without being simplistic. When I get a question here on the blog, usually with a much fuller explanation of the scenario in the original email, there’s almost always no single answer. Our lives are complicated, and we exist in twists and tangles of daily challenges. Yes, of course it’s a simple principle to “love one another,” but it’s not that we don’t understand the commands so much as needing help knowing how to do that in our own lives—and simplistic answers don’t help.
Instead, Sheila provides stories that demonstrate what she advocates, practical tips to apply in your own marriage, and an encouragement to connect with God in prayer and with godly people to carry out the best for your marriage. Tougher stuff in some ways, but well worth the effort. And by giving real-life examples, you see it’s completely do-able.
One last note: When you’re reading a marriage book, don’t sweat it if you don’t agree with 100%. Take the golden nuggets and apply them to your life. Study up on some of the things you’re not sure about and decide for yourself. Even let go those details you vehemently disagree with. Hey, I think Sheila and I could have interesting debate about the exegesis of Ephesians 5:23 (and half of you just fell asleep…), but I agree with her overall conclusions about what a healthy and submitting marriage looks like. And her tips are excellent. That means I can take all the golden stuff and not worry about the little specks we might see differently. You can too.
I’ve known a few couples in my life who seem to float through marriage on a fluffy, happy cloud. But for the other 99.9% of us, marriage is work—not of the toil-and-tribulation kind so much as reap-what-you-sow work. Sheila (and I) promote being intentional about your marriage, putting real effort into growing and deepening your relationship. 9 Thoughts is a great resource to help you be intentional in your marriage about resolving conflict, making peace, finding happiness, enjoying intimacy, and more.
Is what you believe about marriage getting in the way of a GREAT relationship?
When you’ve put into practice all the usual advice, but your marriage still falls short of the intimacy and joy you want, what then? Are patience and perseverance your only hope for a better relationship?
Author and speaker Sheila Wray Gregoire says, “Absolutely not!” The solution to a happier relationship is not found in being a more patient, more perfect wife, but in taking responsibility for what you can do—and especially for how you think about your marriage. She challenges you to replace pat Christian answers with nine biblical truths that will radically shift your perspective on your husband, your relationship, and your role in God’s design for marriage.
With humor and honesty, Sheila invites you to believe that God wants to bring oneness and intimacy to your marriage—and challenges you to partner with Him in that process by changing the way you think.
And to one lucky commenter, I’m giving away a copy of 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (ebook or paperback in the U.S. or Canada, ebook outside the U.S.). Just leave a comment with ONE thought that has positively changed your marriage!