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4 Stars Out Of 5
Understanding Our Spouse's Strangeness
April 4, 2011
My favorite book about marriage is This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. When I read that book, it was the first time that someone explained to me what it means to "bear with one another in love." This is something that I needed to be reminded of today. In Piper's book, he explains that we are each responsible to forgive and bear with our spouse and their strangeness (what seems strange to us that is) as Christ has forgiven us. Our forgiveness is not based upon what the other has done, or rather not done, for us. We are each responsible for our own hearts.
This week, I read this book by Kendra Smiley with John Smiley. Though this book is not connected in any way to This Momentary Marriage, it explains what that strangeness is and how to navigate what we perceive as our spouse's "strangeness". The primary aspects that Ms. Smiley focuses on are gender differences and temperament differences. Both of these are very valid and important, I think. In a culture that continually tries to tell us men and women are equal and even the same, we need to remember that God created men and women differently! So, there's bound to be some conflict! In the next chapter, she talks about temperaments and how understanding your spouse's temperament can help you love (and forbear with them) better. Ms. Smiley then moves on to family and both the baggage and traditions we bring into our marriages--two more sources of strangeness. As I read these chapters, I felt like I was reading a summary of what I've learned in the past 10 years. How nice it would have been to read this about 8 years ago and realized that most of us struggle with the same things! Now 8 years later, it's a nice reminder of what we've learned and the territory we've learned to navigate through.
What I did like, in particular, about this book is how it addresses the relationship of marriage to parenting and family. I remember early on in our marriage hearing a talk on Family Life Today in which the topic was how important it is to make your marriage a priority. I have listened to many testimonies about how easy to get lost in the busyness of childrearing and lose sight of your marriage. I remember consciously deciding that our little ones would go in their own room at 4 weeks old and that we would not have night time guests in our room. I needed to protect our bedroom--it was not our children's space.
If you have been married several years, you've probably learned what's in Do Your Kids A Favor...Love Your Spouse but if you know a young couple who's just starting out in their marriage and has just begun to have children, then I think this would be an encouraging and easy book to read.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of Ms. Smiley's book from Moody Publishing for review.
Recommendation: This book implies by its title that it is about your children, but in fact, it is about your marriage and your relationship with the Lord. By building a strong marriage with Christ at the center, you can be the role model that your children need for a faith-filled life obedient to God. Do Your Kids a Favor...Love Your Spouse would be an excellent gift for young married couples. It would also be helpful for couples who are struggling to communicate with one another or would like to move towards a closer and more Godly relationship. Do Your Kids a Favor...Love Your Spouse is a quick and enjoyable read, but has the substance for a lengthy study by couples motivated to improve their marriage.