Book: Love and War
Subtitle: Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of
Author: John and Stasi Eldredge
Publisher’s Synopsis: What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.
With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we’ll find our way through.
LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.
I’ve never read anything by John or Stasi Eldredge, but I’ve heard of them. To be honest, I didn’t expect to find anything new and exciting revealed in the pages of this book– and I didn’t. However, that isn’t to be taken as some kind of condemnation of the contents or that I think it was a waste of time to read. On the contrary, the book is full of great reminders that most married couples need to hear from time to time. In it you’ll find ideas like:
- Marriage is hard work– so roll up your sleeves and get to it.
- Satan hates marriage and will fight against yours.
- Men and women think differently.
- You’re going to have to die to self and serve your spouse.
All through the book, we read about the troubles and triumphs of the authors and their friends both in life and in their marriages. The book is full of anecdotes and scripture alike. While I do not agree with all of the psychology and the theology presented in the book, I do agree with the main powerful premise. Marriage is worth it. Period. Marriage is a picture of God’s love for mankind and we need to value it enough to make it work.
For me, the biggest question was in the statement, “Marriage is hard.” You see, I may be alone in this– Kevin may have a totally different perspective– but for me, our marriage hasn’t been hard. I feel like I’m opening myself to some horrible calamity by saying it, but it’s true. We’ve just never had horrible times. Our little difficulties, when really examined in the light of reality, just haven’t been much trouble. We’ve not suffered huge loss, struggled with terrible difficulties, or had great rifts in our relationships. We’ve never even had a ‘fight’. Forget that, we’ve barely had a snip at each other in the twenty-one years we’ve been married. Do we agree on everything? Nope. We’re just not the “get riled up” about things types. We’re more the, “Oh who cares, it’s not that important” types.
So, as I read that line, “Marriage is hard” repeatedly through the book, I confess, I wondered about it. I even started a few ideas for a new novel based upon that line. I wondered. Is our marriage not “hard” because we’re apathetic? Is that how Satan is attacking us as a couple? Apathy? Are we somehow in deep spiritual blindness as evidenced by ease? Or, I wondered, is it that Satan has lain in wait for this moment to stir seeds of doubt in my heart in order to, after all these years of what I’ve always seen as a good marriage, destroy it from the core.
You know, at the time of our wedding, we knew at least six other couples. Within a year of our wedding, five of those couples were separated or divorced. Twenty-one years later, only one of those couples is still married. I remember when Kevin asked me to marry him. The guy has to have guts like no man ever had. I was a single mom. I had great thunderpuppy ideas about what my life should be like as a single mom. I’d never planned to have any children or get married. I was a mom now, but marriage wasn’t a part of my future, and as I told my best friend that, he asked me to marry him. Can you see it?
Me: “I’ve got a child to raise, a living to make, and I don’t think it’s right to bring a man into that picture. I’m never getting married.”
Kevin: “Well, would you marry me?”
Uhhhhhhhh– How do you answer that? I mean, frankly, Kevin was either stupid (I knew he was not), or this was God (bingo!). I opted to go with the God thing. In the couple of seconds it took all that to go through my head, I made up my mind. I don’t remember if my NEXT words were this or if I said yes first. I do know that they were very close together, but I said, “If you marry me, you’re stuck.” Yeah, I’m romantic. *cough*.
But I believe that. I firmly believe, we’re stuck. We said, “Until death,” and vows are unbreakable in my book. One thing this book didn’t say but made me think about was my vows and how often we DO break them. Think about it, the preacher says, “Will you love, honor, cherish (insert appropriate verb here) for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, until death–” and then we say we will. Um, how many times have you not loved in your words, actions, or even in your heart? How many times were you dishonoring in your words (the things you’ve said to a friend over lunch or online on a message board… I’ve done it. SHAME ON ME), your actions, or your thoughts. “As he thinks in his heart…” This book, whether they meant to or not, really drove home the idea that our vows are ongoing. We didn’t make them once and that’s it. We’re home free. We have to live them, day in and day out, every second, even when it’s difficult. In THAT sense, yeah… marriage is hard. Because it’s hard for me to die to myself every day and when I get irritated over some stupid little thing that poor Kevin has no idea irritates me (and I really need to get over 99% of the time), I need to honor him in THOUGHT as well as in word or deed. Ouch.
Who is this book for? Well, honestly, I guess it’s for everyone, however I’d say that if you are someone who easily becomes discontent with how your spouse compares to other people, this book isn’t for you. I found myself thinking, “Oy, I won’t be passing this on to so and so” a few times. On the other hand, if you are the kind of person who reads a book and sees from it what you need to do to serve the Lord in how you relate to others, I personally think the book is worth your time and money. I think it’s good to be shaken out of our comfort zones and examine our hearts before the Lord in specific areas like this. And, I think it helped me see that there are more ways for things to be than it seems. Just because Kevin and I have never once even thought divorce (or I certainly haven’t and I don’t think he has), doesn’t mean that we’ve arrived in our marriage. Just because we’ve never had an affair or become immune to one another, doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to invest in him in ways I tend to forget. So yes, the book is good, even if your marriage is too!
I want to thank Random House for providing this book for review, and I’ll be adding it to my “bonus box” that is getting almost full! We’ll be drawing for it soon unless I get a bunch of comments asking for a give away. Then, I’ll probably just draw from those comments and send it to that winner. So tell me, which would you rather see? Part of the box of books give away or draw for it as an individual book?