You may already be familiar with Sheila Wray Gregoire from her blog, To Love, Honor, and Vacuum or from some of the other books she’s written about marriage. Her newest book, 9 Thoughts that Can Change Your Marriage, has recently released and I was honored to receive a complimentary copy and give my honest review.
In the spirit of the book, here are 9 things I found helpful about this book:
- Breadth of topics: This book deals with the small, irritating things that could be chipping away at the foundations of our marriages, as well as the gigantic things that are creating wide rifts between us and our husbands. Sheila speaks to both sides of the spectrum and gives helpful action steps as to how to walk toward healing.
- Pat answers: Sheila shows how “pat answers” that some people (or institutions) give can be hurtful and are often unable to show the fullness of scriptural truth. Not only is this helpful in that we feel validated when those pat answers didn’t seem to work for us, but writing them out also helps us be aware of some of our own pat answers we’ve tried to give others.
- Action steps: Sometimes we read something and we know it’s a truth we need to adopt and live out in our lives, but we aren’t sure exactly how to translate that truth into action. Within each “thought,” Sheila lists several ideas on how to improve yourself or your relationship in a tangible way.
- Realness: Sheila speaks open and honestly about her own marriage trials and baggage. And she willingly confesses that some of the issues in her own marriage were due to her own baggage, mindsets, and choices.
- It’s about marriage, but addresses other things, too: In “Thought 3: My husband was not put on this earth to make me happy” she delves into the difference between joy, contentment, and happiness. She writes: “Let me suggest this: joy is an emotion that looks upward; contentment is an emotion that looks inward; and happiness is an emotion that looks outward. Joy say, “How great is our God!” Contentment says, “It is well within my soul.” And happiness says, “What a wonderful husband I have!”
- Sex: Seriously, this is a big (and often frustrating and contentious) topic that Sheila does not gloss over. She discusses not only why it is important, but how to deal with some of the spiritual, emotional, and physical things that get in the way of a close, intimate sex life
- Scriptural truth: There is an abundance of scripture in this book and Sheila tackles some of the trickiest passages. What does it mean to submit? It does not mean that when there is a tie, your husband always wins. What does it mean to have peace in your marriage? There is a difference between being a peacekeeper and a peace-maker. Which one are you?
- Thought-provoking: In “Thought 6: I’m called to be a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper,” it made me think about the balance between surrendering it all to God and being an active “helper,” as God called us in Genesis. In my own walk through Craig’s porn addiction, I had to first come to a place of total surrender to God, admitting that I could not save Craig from porn despite all my interventions. After I got to this place, God showed me how I could actually help him well. Prayer was a huge part of both of our recoveries from addiction (his from porn, mine from control), but not the only thing God used. In our story, the surrender didn’t translate into me just offering it all to God and then avoiding everything that had to do with the addiction. Rather it was seeking God throughout the whole process, asking Him when and how I could help him in a healthy way that led to healing and wholeness.
- Marriage takes two to become one: Your marriage probably isn’t less than stellar just because of his problems. This book creates a safe place to sit back and evaluate our own hearts, our own baggage, and our own expectations. It provides great encouragement to change our prayer from, “Lord, please change him!” to “Lord, please change me.”