I've just finished a good book that I would like to share with everyone who is married or thinking of becoming married and especially those that would like to stay married. The title is "Love to Stay," written by Adam Hamilton (Abingdon Press, 2013). "Pastor Adam," as he is known by his church members, is the minister at The Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kansas, the largest Methodist church in the United States (19,000) members. He conducted a survey recently, primarily of his congregation, asking questions about love, marriage, and yes, sex. He wanted to find out where people were on their satisfaction with marriage and try to determine some of the factors that led to a happier state of matrimony. Some things were not so surprising; men don't think that they get enough sexual intimacy. Other things were quite surprising; eight percent of women reported viewing pornography at least occasionally. Not a big statistic but remember that these are church members who describe themselves as Christians.
Hamilton addresses the various stresses in marriage from a very nonjudgmental point of view, considering his position in the church. He simply, but firmly, points out that addictions, including addiction to pornography, rob a marriage of intimacy. Addictions, he points out, are one of the top three things that lead to divorce, with the other two being abuse (physical and/or verbal) and infidelity. He tackles each of these subjects from a theological point of view without being "preachy" in any way. His take on divorce was eloquently put: he feels that God doesn't like divorce but there are some things that God likes even less [abuse].
There are several sections in the book that cover how spouses can more accurate assess and meet the needs of each other. Men should share more feelings and take time to talk with their spouses while women should approach their spouse in a non-judgmental, supportive manner. Regular dates without the kids and even scheduled intimacy time are explored.
The ever-present theme of the book is to identify the things that will help couples minimize the stresses that all marriages go through. The book could be useful in couples therapy work and there is a Leader Guide available for use with small study groups. Best of all, the book will be right at home between spouses looking for ways to build or repair a relationship in which they would like "Love to Stay."
It "has its ups and downs, its ebb and flow, and it requires perseverance, hard work and from time to time a bit of help."
That's how Adam Hamilton describes the reality of marriage in his new book, Love to Stay, itself an effort to provide that "bit of help", practical advice and encouragement for married couples or people contemplating marriage.
You can tell this issue is high on Hamilton's list - Love to Stay is his second book dealing with the topic. In 2004 he published Making Love Last a Lifetime.
As in his earlier work, Hamilton provides a useful framework for examining the common issues in marriage (big and small) and strategies for working through them.
In Love to Stay he ends each chapter with suggested activities for couples, for individuals within a marriage and for single people. These sections are among the most valuable parts of this book.
He also draws on feedback and survey results from thousands of people to help illustrate some basic truths. The charts and graphs provide useful insights and help put many things into perspective.
One of my favorite pieces of wisdom in this book centers on keeping the long term view. "You do love until you feel love," says Hamilton. "When it is difficult to feel love, the trick is to hold on to the knowledge that it will get better and not to do anything stupid in the meantime."
He explores the little things (annoyances or habits) and the big things (emotional or physical abuse; addictions to drugs, alcohol or pornography; and infidelity) that can hurt marriages.
Hamilton states that his goal for the book is to offer an "honest, real and hope-filled picture of the blessings and challenges of marriage, and what it takes to make it work."
I think he has succeeded in doing that.
The people who read the book may or may not succeed in building and sustaining a healthy marriage. Even with best intentions and seeking out guidance and support - "making love stay" is not a slam dunk proposition.
I know of at least two couples who participated in a study of his earlier book on marriage who have since divorced, despite good intentions and effort.
People (and spouses) are not perfect.
So, my advice is: if you are married, work at it (this book can help); celebrate the marriages that last; and be there for the people in marriages that don't.
And remember the only love that consistently "stays" is God's love for you.
But we can count on that. That is "love to stay."
"For I am convinced," Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us form the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Note: Abingdon Press provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
Love to Stay Sex, Grace and Commitment by Adam Hamilton was one of the best books I have ever read. As divorced women I began reading thinking this was going to be all about couples and what they can do to keep their marriage going strong; I was WRONG this book is for everyone from singles, married, and separated to divorce Christians. The examples given throughout each chapter allowed me to reflect on my own circumstances and what I hope for in the future. The exercises and questions at the end of the chapters gave further insight to what I was feeling in my heart not just on the surface. One of my favorite parts of the book was in Chapter 2 referring to the "love bank" making deposits as well as how you can deplete the bank just as quickly made me take a step back thinking about my parents and how they would always say loving things, kiss each other when they walked in a room or were saying goodbye for just a short while made me think about all the deposit they made in their "love bank" over the years. Yes they fought just like every couple but their commitment and grace was strong and blessed until the end when my Mom lost her battle with cancer last year at age 60. I can only wish to have such a loving relationship with another person as my parents had in theirs. Thank you to Abington Press for the complimentary copy to review this book and to Adam Hamilton for sharing some of his most personal thoughts and experiences throughout the book. A copy of this book would be a great gift for an engaged couple or anyone looking for love and commitment in a relationship. Love to Stay is one of the resources you can return to during all stages of relationships to gather information or reaffirm your place with God in your relationship. It's a keeper! God Bless
I'm single and twice-divorced so I know I have a lot to learn about love and staying in it. Adam Hamilton's book provides insights from his pastoral ministry, but he also shares from interviews with over 5000 married, and single people on either how they were able to Stay in Love, or what they are looking for in a mate. Adam begins the book by laying a foundation that a long-term marriage cannot exist on eros (the passionate, sexual side of love) alone. There has to be a desire to help and encourage, to nurture and lift up, which transforms eros into agape, the sacrificial love that wishes the best for the other.
Adam explores the biblical basis for marriage, but also offers practical advice such as reviewing your wedding vows frequently and examining how you are fulfilling them, as well as praying together daily. And if you're single, Adam recommends thinking about the spouse you want to be, and which marriage promises will be the most challenging for you in the future.
His survey results are most interesting and Adam discusses the different responses between men and women by age group. Nearly 1000 single people participated in the survey and > 80% said that they hoped to be married someday. They were asked, "What are the key qualities you are seeking in a mate?" The answers in my age group, 50-90+, from men were: 1) attractive or intelligent (over age 70), 2) honest/trustworthy, 3) emotionally stable, 4) strong faith, and 5) fun/humorous. Single women, age 50-90+ said: 1) honest/trustworthy, 2) strong faith, 3) emotionally stable, 4) good communicator, and 5) fun/humorous or compassionate. Although somewhat different, honest/trustworthy, strong faith and emotionally stable were in the top 5 for both men and women in the 50-90+ age range. Married respondents who answered the survey ranked "having fun with me" and "demonstrations of affection" high in all age groups for both men and women.
I like the concept that we have "love" bank accounts that our spouse needs to make frequent deposits into. A bank account that runs dry will eventually be closed just like our hearts eventually become hardened.
One of the best chapters is on the trivialization of sex where Adam makes the case that far from liberating us, it robs sexual intimacy of its power. "We become vulnerable, completely open, naked before the other and it is meant to be a beautiful, holy and profound thing." Adam rightly criticizes that churches don't spend enough time on the beauty and importance of sexual intimacy in marriage. Adam's survey results showed a definite correlation between physical intimacy, church attendance and daily prayer together.
I'd recommend this book to everyone who is seeking a holy relationship of friendship or marriage. The principles in the book encourage us to lead our lives as stewards of God's love, and then show us practical ways that we can further serve those whom God has brought closest to us.
Please note: Abingdon Press provided me with a complimentary copy of Love To Stay for review purposes.
This book really helped me understand some things that I would have not realized, and possibly worked against me if I had not opened my mind - and heart - to its contents.
As a single man, never married, 38, and who chooses to try to keep a Christ centered life in perspective the biggest take away I had was the saying "keep making deposits:)" That was alluding to the fact that if a man can learn his potential significant other's love language, that it becomes increasingly paramount to keep making deposits to her. I really love that, as it has helped keep my 'fresh' on how to approach the women I date, and woman I hope to marry, and how to stay growthfully married.
Also the way the author referred to The platinum rule- as doing unto others as they would have you do unto them. Knowing it and doing it are two different things, and the author really made that clear, and gave good suggestions on actions to consider and exercises to do in order to get some things to stick.
And also it was helpful hear Adam's perspective to really pay attention to the ways body language expresses itself. And lastly I learned the most important words are not necessarily I love you, but equally so "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" as the most important words.
A copy of this book was given to me by Abingdon press for review purposes.