Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Marriage and Relationships (for Men and Women)

Books I have read on developing strong, loving marriages. (This post will grow as I add books over time. Check back often.)

"Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs" and "Cracking the Communication Code: The Secret to Speaking Your Mate's Language", both by Emerson Eggerichs. These are written from a Christian perspective. Importantly, the concept of "respect" is the least understood and most dismissed concept by women in their relationships with men. The loss of this concept and attitude is the most destructive result of the emmasculization of men and derission of maleness which has occured not only in society but most disturbingly, in the church. These books are hard for women to read (my wife struggled greatly with anger and resistance when reading about respect) but that is why it is so important for women to work through this material.

A great companion to the these books is a book by secular (I presume) authors who explore the actual physiological brain differences which result in the perceptable differences discussed in the two books above. Although this is a purely secular book, it is amazing how much it corroberates the Christian perspective. I do have some reservations about the secular approach in the book, especially on it's emphasis on evolution (but...see new entry below). Anyway, the book is "Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps" by Allan and Barbara Pease. And yes, it is as whitty as the title suggests.

There is now a Christian equivalent to "Why Men Don't Listen..." which covers the same ground (and provides much more extensive scientific references). That book is "His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your Marriage" by Dr. Walt and Barb Larimore. This book alleviates all of the concerns I had about "Why Men Don't Listen..."

An oldy but a goody from Robert Lewis, the founder of Men's Fraternity and author of "The New Eve". In the book "Rocking the Roles: Building a Win-Win Marriage", Lewis and co-author William Hendricks take a dim view of both the traditional (i.e., patriarchal) model for marriage and the feminist driven egalitarian model. Delving deeply into the Genesis account as well as the significant volume of teaching on marriage in the New Testament, Lewis reveals anew the true godly design for marriage - one that provides equality without sacrificing gender specific roles and needs.

Twelve Lies Husbands Tell Their Wives coverTwelve Lies Wives Tell Their Husbands coverJust recently read two companion books: "12 Lies Husbands Tell Their Wives" and "12 Lies Wives Tell Their Husbands" by Tim and Sheila Ritter. The authors recommend that both sexes read both books, although the primary audience for each is the gender telling the lies. Very good books for understanding your spouse AND yourself.

I was browsing through the clearance books at the local Christian book store some time back and ran across a book with the curious title "Not Your Parents' Marriage". For $4.99, I figured I couldn't go wrong. I bought the book and promptly buried it deep in my "to read" stack. What I found when I finally got around to it was simply the most amazing book I have ever read on building healthy marriage relationships. The reason this book is so wonderful is not because it holds some great, deep secret within its pages. Quite to the contrary, it is the book's simple and clear presentation that makes it both charming and chock full of wisdom. I would recommend this book before any other for engaged couples and for those married couples who can't figure out why it is they can't seem to get along.

Online: Not all great reading is in books. There are websites that contain a wealth of written info regarding marriage and relationships. Please also consider a visit to these worthy resources:

The Marriage Bed - Explores marriage, sexuality, and intimacy from a healthy Christian perspective. Contains position papers on a wide range of topics as well as a user forum. WARNING - many of the topics discussed on this site are intimate and even explicit in nature and the authors do not pull any punches. Everything is handled with as much discretion as possible but caveat lector. In general, I do not recommend the forums as they often contain "R" to "X" rated discussions.

Also see my favorite blog list for marriage blogs.


For full disclosure, I should note that there are two general issues around which I disagree with the solutions proposed by almost all authors I have read. Those issues are confrontation (with bullies, primarily) and the priority of female attractiveness in relationships.

Specifically, I do not agree with the proactive, violent, thrashing out approach most authors support as the "manly" response to bullying, physical threats, and protection of the weak. I truly believe that such an approach returns evil for evil and violates the "turn the other cheek" directive of Christ. That does not mean that I don't think men should exhert their power physically in those situations if required. But my personal approach is always a defensive and negotiative one, not an offensive one.

And although I agree with most authors in the reality that physical attractiveness is a priority for men, I don't believe that it has to be or that such a priority is godly. As such, I bristle at any suggestion that maintaining attractiveness is some kind of requirement for a woman to be godly or that there is any justification for men to discard their women because they don't maintain some standard of beauty. Scripture makes it clear not only that beauty does not last forever (Proverbs 31:30) but that we are to adore and be captivated (to turn an Eldredge phrase) by our wives at all times, regardless of the natural degradation that time, gravity, and physiology inflict on their bodies (Proverbs 5:19)

I just had to add that lest one think that I agree with absolutely everything every author writes. But by and large, these are really excellent books and these few quibbles do not prevent me from recommending them highly.


  1. Gengwall,

    Just a quick note to say thanks for the link to my site. I am so glad to know you have found it useful, and hopefully encouraging, in your life. I appreciate you sharing it with others. I would love to hear from you sometime. Feel free to comment on my blog any time, or email me at

    With Hope,
    Roger Butner

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