9 Thoughts for Your Marriage & 1 Book Giveaway

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 For Your Marriage

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.

9 Thoughts Book Cover

Click to Buy!

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!

76 thoughts on “9 Thoughts for Your Marriage & 1 Book Giveaway

  1. Jason Goode

    This book sounds great! One idea that has helped me in marriage is that true intimacy with your spouse is always worth the effort.

    Reply
    1. Amanda Guilfoyle

      I love the wisdom in marriage to spend 15 to 30 min face to face daily. Once a week go out on a date night. Once a month stay one night out. Once a year a week vacation. Keeps the friendship/relationship strong and prioritized. The dollar menu at Wendy’s is a great date night. If your on a budget. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Elisa

    My thought that changed my marriage is this: It is not a failure on my part to ask for help. I do not have to get upset that something isn’t getting done and HOPE that my husband gets the hint. I can just calmly let him know that something needs to be done and I will not be able to get to it. No muss, no fuss.

    Reply
  3. Erica

    It’s more a prayer than a thought. 10+ years ago, when we were going through a rough time, I started making myself thank God for my husband before I even got out of bed in the morning. It really changed the way I look at him, and has become so ingrained in me that thanking God for him is often my first thought on waking.

    Reply
  4. Paula

    One thing that has kept our marriage fresh is to have a date night at least once every 2 wks. No talking of kids or problems happening, just enjoying each others company.

    Reply
  5. L

    Respect your husband. We are created to love but struggle with respect as women. Makenan effort to show respect and he will show you love!

    Reply
  6. Kristina

    Can’t remember where I got this nugget of truth but here it is. .. I am not my husband’s Holy Spirit. Truly powerful. It isn’t my job to draw Him closer to God. I would usually come off as a nag anyway and that’s not very encouraging! Really changed things in our marriage.

    Reply
  7. lynn

    I promised myself that I would never physically turn my back on my husband when I’m upset about something. Since I can be a worrier with a martyr complex, that simple resolution has avoided a lot of pain for both of us. Pretty hard to be mad at someone when you’re in his embrace. (And may I say, I sing the praise of the ‘Good Girl’s Guide’ all over the place!)

    Reply
  8. Jaime Haynie

    When my husband and I first started dating, we decided right off the bat that communication and transparency were the most important characteristics of our relationship (aside from our faith in God of course!). Now 4 years later, we never have big problems because we talk honestly about them while they are small problems. I’m so thankful for how open we are with each other, especially when it comes to sex! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Rebecca

    One thing that helped me in my marriage is to keep things light-hearted. When I choose to let things roll off my back and avoid getting annoyed easily, our family is happier. Also, because of a very hard time in our marriage (and the very reason I found this blog), I decided long ago never to say no to sex again. I have learned to expect to have that time with him every night, no question. He is the higher drive one, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not like I don’t enjoy it. 😉 thanks for all you do, J.

    Reply
  10. DC

    That sometimes I have to be brave one. Some topics are tough, and if I push through the fear of bringing it up, he always shares his heart.

    Reply
  11. Deacon Mark Wilder

    The idea of peace maker vs. peace keeper is a winner. It keeps the status quo from becoming a weight that drags the marriage down.

    Reply
  12. Marcia

    I’d love to win this book. One thought: My husband cannot fulfill all my needs. I need God first of all and I do need trusted friends.

    Reply
  13. Denae

    One thought that is changing my marriage is that my husband cannot make me happy! I need to look to God for that constant joy and happiness. My husband will fail just because he’s human and it’s not his fault! The more I’m learning this truth, the more my marriage is getting better!

    Reply
  14. Mal

    We’re doing life together, and whatever comes up, we’re going to figure out out because neither of us are going anywhere.

    Reply
  15. Ashley

    One of the best things that happened for my marriage was when I realized that I am in charge of my own happiness. I always knew this but to apply it to the little things took me a while. A full garbge can drives me crazy days before my hubby is bothered. So instead of being annoyed every time I threw something away I started taking the trash out myself.

    Reply
  16. Audrey

    One thought that has changed the way I approach sex, although I am still overcoming struggles in this area, is that my husband gets turned on and then engages, but I have to choose to engage and then the feelings will come. Many times I have felt like something was wrong with me when I didn’t feel like it or get turned on right away. But I’ve learned that we have to CHOOSE to engage, even if the feelings or desire isn’t there–they come eventually! t has helped me work through some of my struggles with intimacy.

    Reply
  17. Lisa DeCourcey

    i try to keep in mind the forgiveness that God has extended to me, which has enabled me to extend forgiveness to my husband during a difficult season. It’s humbling to remember the depths of my sin and the sacrifice which covers it. A fresh reminder of God’s grace gives health to our marriage.

    Reply
  18. Hannah

    One thought that has positively impacted my marriage: perpetual novelty. Never assume that you know your spouse and can therefore read their mind and predict their behavior every time. Study them instead.

    Reply
  19. E.N.

    Communication is so important! Not just waiting until you have a problem with something or have stewed about something for awhile then you bring it up but talk about things right when it comes up.

    Reply
  20. CL

    My latest revelation – even though I may not fully trust my husband because of his sin, I have my own sin that God sees no difference in. Jesus died for one – and all. So much sweeter when I live in this moment!!

    Reply
  21. Julie

    One thing that my husband and I struggle with is miscommunication. And one thing we have been working on a lot lately is giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Think that the other person is saying something unkind or unloving? Ask for clarification on what they meant. Most times, they didn’t mean it to sound the way it did when it came out. 🙂

    Reply
  22. Rebekah

    One thing that has transformed my marriage from ok to great is letting go. Allowing him to be the man and leader of out home. Trully being a submissive wife instead of fighting with him to do it “my way “

    Reply
  23. Ashley

    My positive comment for a happy marriage is to totally take the word “divorce” out of your vocabulary. Then, whatever comes your way, you have to work to improve. Quitting is not an option.

    Reply
  24. Carrie Murray

    I am not sure if it a thought but more of an action. We have removed divorce from our vocabulary. Through that action, we have had a more positive marriage because we don’t think we won’t make it through it. Instead we think how with God’s help we can overcome anything!

    Reply
  25. HG

    I would love to win this book! The most important thing that has affected my marriage is developing my personal relationship with God. It’s so easy to let my relationship with my husband become a higher priority than my relationship with Jesus but that is so backwards. Jesus is first.

    Reply
  26. Kassandra

    The most important and beneficial thing to my marriage is trusting in Jesus Christ. If it weren’t for Jesus I probably would be in jail for murdering my husband (that’s a joke ladies & gentlemen) But it is God who gets me through the day when I can’t bear to take another step. I would love to win this book, to apply God’s best for my marriage. Thank You

    Reply
  27. Me :)

    J – congratulations. Thank you. GREAT JOB!!!
    I have learned that for marriage HU.MI.LI.TY. Is imperative; humility to forgive and ask for forgiveness; to respect when he’s not being very respect- able o_0; humility to just accept his “bads” and to accept MY “bads” for those things, and so much more … humility.

    Ps – that thought on peacemaker vs peacekeepers — WOW — thanks 😉

    Reply
  28. Stephany Robinson

    We’ve been married almost 20 years, but I’m not to the point where I could write a book on our success. Right now, I feel like we need to fall in love all over again. I mean we love & serve each other, but I want to look into his eyes and feel butterflies again. I want to know that he still thinks I’m the most beautiful gal in his life. So, I just have to break the monotony cycle, and make sure I’m being beautiful. I have to make sure he knows that he’s beautiful (& hardworking & Sexy!) too.

    Reply
  29. Karen

    My one thought–extending grace to your spouse. They will fail you. That is a given with imperfect people. But the ability to forgive and love in spite of the failures is priceless.

    Reply
  30. Cheryl

    I’ve enjoyed and have been encouraged by all of the comments! One thought that has helped me in my marriage: there are 4 needs only God (not your husband) can meet. They are: Identity, Security, Purpose, and Acceptance (Jn4)

    Reply
  31. Rebecca

    I have learned that when a problem arises within the marriage, it is the husband and wife vs. the problem, rather than the husband vs. the wife. This totally changed my outlook on conflict.

    Reply
  32. Jo Anna

    Faithful communication with God first followed by clear communication with my husband is the ultimate key to having a close relationship.

    Reply
  33. SANDRA

    I think learning when to talk and when to keep my BIG mouth shut. That follows along with respecting one another. I am learning that it is always better to work on yourself and God will do the rest. Not my job to try to change my husband.

    Reply
  34. Erinita

    Sign the kids up for Awana. Instant Wednesday night date night. KEEP it as
    date night, do not, I repeat, DO NOT fall into the “let’s do laundry and clean
    the house” night. We call it “Doyawanna” night. 😉

    Reply
  35. Molly

    One thought that has helped my marriage is to remind myself that God does not intend for me to change my husband–that is His job. My job is to support and help my husband as he becomes the man that God shapes him to be.

    Reply
  36. Jess Gallagher

    One thing that has been influential in my marriage is that our marriage will unfold one day at a time. I don’t have to have tomorrow figured out today.

    Reply
  37. Dana

    One thing that has profoundly helped me in my marriage was to make sure to always build him up. Criticizing and nagging only make him feel defeated and annoyed.

    Reply
  38. Mindy

    Wow – seems like every thought I had has already been covered! Everyone has great ideas. I would add the word “transparency.” Others mentioned being open and honest and maintaining good communication, which is all true. Being transparent means not hiding any aspect of who you are.

    Reply
  39. Crystal Daisy

    My thought- Assume with love. Meaning everything your spouse does, assume they did it out of love and respect for you. This has helped my marriage greatly, and also causes for less disagreements.

    Reply
  40. Sheri

    One thing that has changed my marriage is to think of things I love or appreciate about my husband especially if I start noticing my attitude slipping over “little” annoyances. Love reading both yours and Sheila’s blogs!

    Reply
  41. Stephanie

    The thing that helps me the most is …. I am not the only one that has bed days! A very wise women told me that you need to love your husband more through the bad times.

    Reply
  42. Amy

    Sounds like a good book! I think trying to step back and see the issue through his eyes before just saying that’s not right.

    Reply
  43. Anonymous

    One thought that has transformed my marriage is to always belive that my husband has good intentions toward me. WIth this filter firmly in place, many arguments are diffused before they even have a chance to start. 🙂 Learned about this from a great book by Paul and Billie Kay Tsika called Get Married, Stay Married. <3

    Reply
  44. FarAboveRubies

    I had no clue what I was doing when we were first married, but I never said no to sex. It turned out to be a huge blessing for both of us. Win-win.

    Reply
  45. Tad

    A big thing for my husband and I is that we make sure we turn toward each other not away from each other when things get rough. We are both introverts, so our instinct is to hide inside, but we have decided to hide inside each other’s love instead. Thirteen months later, through a baby, two surgeries, and several emergency room visits later, we are closer than ever & still crazy in love!

    Reply
  46. Lauren

    One of the best thoughts that has changed my marriage is that my husband and I are always on the same team. It’s easy to forget that sometimes when we are both very competitive people who like to play games together, but even if we are competing against each other in a game, we are on the same team in life.

    Reply
  47. Mel

    One thought that has shaped our marriage: Always assume the best about your spouse. My mom passed on that gold nugget, and it helps me remember to be gracious.

    Reply
  48. agnesv

    this book must be awesome 🙂 the thought that has affected my attitude a lot is that the only thing I can change is myself. I should become the change I want to see and my husband will always be keen to follow (which was not lthe case aback in the days when I wanted to change his behaviour by crying and nagging). by the way, I found this gem here, at J’s blog 🙂

    Reply
  49. MH

    One thing I’ve learnt is that my interpretation of what’s been said and done in a moment is not necessarily what was meant. I’ve found asking an open question usually resolves many conflicts before they grow. Though I’m working.on.being.better at asking… if I manage it, it goes something like, “When you said that,.I’ve heard this…is that what you meant?”

    Reply
  50. Bob L

    I have been married to the same wonderful lady for 38 years. Not always an easy road. My wife was sexually abused by her dad for many years.
    After we were married about 10 years her dad died and I thought that would bring relief. WRONG! She shut down and did not want to see me, talk to me, or touch me. This went on for a few years. We both finally went to separate councilors.
    The biggest thing that has helped my marriage is My councilor reminded me of what Christ did for the church … HE DIED FOR HER and I as a husband had to grasp the teaching that I had to die to myself, my selfish wants and desires and become the support my wife needed. Things are still not what I want them to be but I do try to accept and be content. Not always easy to do.

    Reply
  51. Lois

    One thing that has helped our marriage a LOT is learning to “use my words, not my tears” as I tell my 4 yr old all the time. One day I suddenly realized that applies to me and my marriage. JUST USE ENGLISH WORDS!!! How can I expect him to be a mind-reader? Or figure out what’s wrong based on my tears?! It’s so not fair to him!

    Reply
  52. grace

    Our words and actions will make a different! And be kind … we normally kinder to other people but not our husbands or children. I remember a very wise advice “kindness leads to repentance” … that basically what God does for us … He is kind and gently and patience … which in the end (hopefully) will lead us to repentance. Thanks for the chance to win the book – sounds like a great book to read!

    Reply
  53. Mrs. Bojangles

    In pre-marital counseling we were told that we were God’s perfect gift for each other. It doesn’t mean that we’re perfect, but that God put us with this particular person with their particular faults for a reason! My husband will remind me of this during moments of conflict and it always helps!

    Reply
  54. Su

    My thought is actually a Bible verse–*do not grow weary in well doing for in due time you shall reap what you sow if you faint not* Gal 6:9 thx

    Reply
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