9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage
by Sheila Wray Gregoire
Sheila Wray Gregoire’s new book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, accomplishes something quite difficult: Saying something fresh about marriage. After reading and/or reviewing so many marriage books that focus on male/female communication and seeing the world as either pink or blue and offer cute little catchphrases, I loved how Gregoire dug a bit deeper. She tackles commonly held cliches or superficial Christian marriage beliefs and replaces them with 9 thoughts that could change the way you think about what it means to love your husband.
Her first thought sounds so simple: “My Husband is My Neighbor.” But in that one simple thought, she addresses an attitude adjustment that we need to make as wives. She writes, “it’s often easier to feel compassion for people in the abstract than for individuals we know up close and personal” (16) and also, “I have this sneaking suspicion that most of us save our best behavior for those whom we barely know and show our worst side to those we know the best” (17). Isn’t that so true? We often display grace, forgiveness, and compassion for those outside of our home, strangers even who we meet at the grocery story or the bank, but then snap at every flaw we see in the one person we are to treasure the most.
Her other thoughts are just as important, valuable, and challenging, including “My Husband Can’t Make Me Mad,” My Husband Was Not Put on This Earth to Make Me Happy” and (my favorite), “I”m Called to Be a Peacemaker, not a Peacekeeper.” In this last chapter, she argues that “pursuing peace does not mean seeking an absence of conflict.” Instead, God’s heart is for oneness, and sometimes that means choosing to work together to fix differences instead of simply ignoring them in an effort to “keep the peace.”
Gregoire manages to maintain a very difficult balance. Submission and respecting our husbands does not mean allowing them to do whatever they feel like it, no matter how abusive, harmful, irresponsible, and hurtful. Her question is, “If you step back and ‘submit,’ are you being a ‘suitable helper’ to him? Or are you enabling him?” Nor does establishing boundaries in marriage mean threatening divorce or harping on his every flaw and failing. She suggests that holiness in marriage results from lovingly helping each become more Christ-like, loving each other enough to speak truth in love when necessary.
Throughout each chapter, Gregoire includes Action Steps and then she includes a summary of all of the action steps at the end of the chapter so they are easy to find and implement. You may not be able to do each action step in a chapter, but with several choices, there is usually something you can put into practice. Some action steps involve your husband and some you can do on your own, like “Pray about where God is leading your husband. Ask God, ‘How can I tangibly support my husband in that?’
She also provides a helpful appendix with her favorite marriage resources in various categories, such as: Make Your Marriage Great, The Purpose of Marriage, Sex, Handling Conflict and Setting Boundaries, and Roles in Marriage. I loved this resource list because it’s likely that as you read her book, you’d identify the weaker aspects of your marriage and then find further information and encouragement on those specific areas.
Ultimately, this is a marriage book for an engaged woman, the newly married, the seasoned wife with a great marriage and the woman in a marriage that is struggling. While not every one of her thoughts will fit your own marriage needs, there are most likely at least some healthy reminders or fresh encouragements to help any wife make her marriage better.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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