Most of us husbands and wives are missing the mark in our marriages. We are tired and disappointed, frustrated even. We sit quietly at the dinner table, making small talk with little or no eye contact. And when we dine out, we cringe at the couple giggling like newlyweds at the next table. What are they so giddy about anyway? And if your nest is still full, then it’s like trying to enjoy dinner with a bunch of clowns fighting over center ring with the fart machine. Thanks kids, we’ve lost our appetite already.
Our marriages have fallen prey to the dismal routine, and we need a way out. In their latest book, Love & War: Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of, John and Stasi Eldredge have done more than hit dead center; they’ve shot the target completely off its stand. John defines the typical marriage as “Two guarded people managing their disappointment, negotiating for better terms through a DMZ they call marriage” (Page 16). He later says “The first big shock we receive in marriage is that it is hard. The second great shock usually follows hard on the heels of the first–that we are, both of us [husband and wife], a royal mess” (Page 44). Do you agree? Let’s be honest with ourselves.
Love & War is not another “10 Steps to Improving Your Marriage” book. We’ve seen enough quick-repair manuals that fail us by Step 5. Rather, John and Stasi take us through their own real struggles that will no doubt resonate within you. My wife and I laughed and elbow-nudged numerous times as we saw ourselves written into the pages, but I must warn you: this book is not for wussies. If you’re not man or woman enough to let your spouse see you naked with the lights on, maybe you should stick with the “10 Steps” books. There’s no hiding in here.
Did I mention that John and Stasi talk unashamedly and at length about sex? It starts in Chapter 11, page 175. How could I forget? The entire chapter in my copy is falling apart from thick highlighting and dog-eared pages. If you skip this section, you guys might as well yell “T-I-M-B-E-R!” for the last time, and you gals might as well seal the tomb. You won’t want to miss this.
John and Stasi’s conversational flow engages you like sharing coffee in their living room, and it’s always clear who is speaking. Their warm invitation says “Look friends, we’re screwed up, too, and this is how we’ve survived and even thrived through each marital hurricane.” It’s about time a couple in the Christian mainstream admitted what we’re all trying to hide.
Reading Love & War with my wife has proved especially rewarding. No, all of our problems aren’t resolved–we still have disagreements, we still pull our hair out when the kids are fighting, and life remains just as hard as before we read it–no book will stop the barrage of problems fired at us each day. But, Love & War has breathed a renewed purpose into our marriage, a common goal, a meaning that dives much deeper than the vows two naive 20-somethings promised each other 15 years ago. Solidifying our marriage with a mission has built a fortress that’s not easily invaded.
If you and your spouse cannot answer the question “What is the purpose for our marriage?” beyond the answers “It was the thing to do” or “Sex” or even the well-intentioned “Because of love,” you need to explore this book. And whether your marriage is already as tough as titanium or you know it’s in trouble, Love & War should be at your bedside. It may become the first book on your nightstand that you’ll never have to dust.
For more about John and Stasi Eldredge and Ransomed Heart Ministries, please visit http://www.ransomedheart.com/