Is It Okay if Christian Marriage Books are Just a Little Bit Harmful?

by | Jan 14, 2020 | Uncategorized | 75 comments

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Christian marriage books should not harm people.

That seems to me to be a no-brainer, but often in discussions about books that I believe spread a toxic teaching, people will say something like:

Well, I got a lot of out of it. I didn’t agree with all of it, and I can see how it can be harmful for certain people, but it’s helped a lot, too.

I’d like to address this line of thinking today.

Christian marriage books can be harmful in one of two ways: They can spread teaching that is toxic, or they can give advice which would be harmful for people in certain situations without warning.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Christian marriage books should not share toxic teaching

As I’ve talked about on the blog at length, Love & Respect’s teaching on sex is toxic. It frames sex as only being about a man’s sexual release; does not address women’s pleasure whatsoever; and talks about sex as something that a woman owes a man, rather than as a vehicle to intimacy and greater oneness.

Why is this toxic? It spreads a lie about sex to both men and women, similar to what I was talking about on my first Start Your Engines podcast for men. It tells us that sex is only about men, which can cause a man to ignore his wife’s sexuality, and can cause women to believe that they don’t have sexual needs or that they’re not sexual beings.

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There’s a whole lot more wrong, but that’s it in a nutshell.

Here’s another example: The Every Man’s Battle series is also toxic teaching, because it frames lust as a problem which all men have and which men can’t really defeat (they have to go through life bouncing their eyes, rather than treating women as whole people). The tactics that it describes for getting over lust don’t work, but they also reinforce the same view of women that porn does: by always talking about avoiding women, it objectifies women and sees them merely as sexual objects, and not as people. That, too, is toxic.

However, we don’t always realize that these things are toxic because they’re so widespread in the Christian community (something which I’m doing my darndest to fight against). Pastors tend to talk about how one of the main reasons for having sex is so that the man isn’t tempted to watch pornography or have an affair. We start thinking that this is normal. But teaching this normalizes men’s sexual sin and kills a woman’s libido, because she hears that he doesn’t want HER, he only wants sex. And if she doesn’t give it, he’ll betray her. This harms a woman’s soul. And yet, because it’s so prevalent, we often don’t even see the harm in it.

Here’s a much better post on how to talk about men’s sexual needs in a healthy way, which acknowledges BOTH spouse’s experiences and needs. 

Christian marriage books should not harm people and definitely should not harm a marriage.

Christian marriage books give advice that can be toxic

Then there’s the other way that Christian marriage books can harm: they can give advice which may work for marriages where both people have goodwill towards one another. However, that same advice, if used by someone married to a spouse with deep character flaws, will only make their marriage worse. There is no one-size-fits-all marriage advice, and yet many books portray their method as being the one thing that, if you just do it right, will save every marriage.

This was my point when I looked at the topic of unconditional respect in Love & Respect. If you’re married to a good guy, then the book likely wouldn’t harm. But if a woman is married to a selfish person; a lazy person; a man who watches porn or is an alcoholic or a workaholic or any other vice, it’s going to make her marriage worse. It tells her that to confront him or draw boundaries is disrespectful, and that if he’s not acting properly, it’s her fault for not being respectful enough.

Church, this should matter to us.

If a book is harming people, even if it didn’t harm you, it should matter. As Jesus said,

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Mark 2:17

It is those in difficult marriages who tend to buy Christian marriage books, so how these books handle these issues is of grave importance, because it is these vulnerable people who will bear the brunt if something goes wrong.

But if there’s no one-size-fits-all marriage advice, then wouldn’t all books be guilty of this?

Well, actually, no. Here’s why: though no book can cover advice for all situations, and though most books are meant for “normal” marriages where both spouses have goodwill, what all books should do is help people recognize when their situation is NOT normal, and then point them to other resources.

For instance, in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, I was sharing in my “being one is more important than being right” section about how sharing your emotional needs can help reframe a conflict and help you brainstorm to find a new resolution and overcome a stalemate. And I showed how this practically could work. However, I also spent a few pages showing that certain needs are NOT legitimate, and then told readers that if their marriage was facing this, they needed to get help.

I helped people see when their marriage was in danger, and when they didn’t need advice for resolving conflict, but they needed much deeper intervention.

Giving general caveats about abuse is not enough

I see this in marriage books quite a bit–the book will say something like, “Now, of course, if you’re being abused, please remove yourself from this situation and call the police.” Love & Respect even does that! Created To Be His Helpmeet even did this. I think just about every book I’ve read does that. But here’s the problem: You can’t give that caveat, but then at the same time give anecdotes of people who are obviously in that situation, but not label those things as abusive.

In Created To Be His Helpmeet, for instance, Debi Pearl says that you should call the police for abuse. But then she gives an anecdote of a husband threatening his pregnant wife with a kitchen knife, and her advice to the wife was to figure out how she had provoked him and stop nagging. Here’s a situation which is obviously abusive, but Pearl does not call it that or treat it like abuse.

In Eggerichs’ case, on the very same page that he tells people to call the police for abuse, he gives an example of a physically abusive husband who repents and is allowed back in the home (ignoring the love bombing cycle), and then talks about how it’s now up to the wife to not react to his anger and provoke fights.

Here’s an analogy: Think about how drug companies handle warnings

Drug companies are required to warn you: “This drug is not meant for people with these conditions.”

What would we think, though, if a drug company said, “This drug is not meant for people with asthma”, but then went on to tell a story about a woman who was having real shortness of breath, and who felt her chest tightening, and who often had trouble catching her breath when it was cold or after exercising, but she used the drug and it was amazing!

Well, you might assume that if you have shortness of breath, and if you have chest tightening, and if you cough a lot after exercise or when it’s cold, then you must not have asthma. You must have something else. And maybe this drug would work!

That’s what going on with too many Christian marriage books.

They’re saying they’re not meant to be used in abusive situations, but then they’re describing abusive situations without naming them as such.

This normalizes abuse. It makes people think that the word “abuse” can only mean something absolutely so horrible that it couldn’t possibly apply to me. After all, a man coming at me with a kitchen knife isn’t abuse. A man who reacts in anger to everything I do isn’t abusive. A man who can’t handle any confrontation at all without getting angry isn’t abusive.

When people brought this to Focus on the Family’s attention about Love & Respect, for instance, they started sending out a form letter, essentially saying that Love & Respect is not meant for people in bad marriages. (You can see that letter here, and I’ll be sharing my response tomorrow).

However, Love & Respect explicitly says in the introduction that his method has helped abusive marriages and marriages with affairs fix themselves. He gives examples in the book of husbands who are addicted to pornography; drinking; straying; and are abusive. As I asked Focus on the Family on Twitter, if adultery, porn use, alcoholism, and abuse do not constitute bad marriages, what, exactly, does?

A Christian marriage book should not harm a marriage. If it does, it’s not a good book to recommend.

Just because a book helped your marriage does not mean that it’s a good book if it also harms other marriages. We should approach Christian marriage books the same way drug companies do. We should expect warnings that are consistent.

The question I ask myself when I read a book is this:

If a woman with an abusive husband, a husband who won’t get a job, or a husband who is addicted to porn is reading this book, what would she think? If a husband with an emotionally abusive wife, with a wife who has cut him off of sex, or with a wife who is engaged in some major sin were reading this book, what would he think?

If the book does not allow readers to recognize, “there’s something wrong with my marriage, and this isn’t normal”, then that book isn’t safe.

If the book gives anecdotes of people in these horrible situations simply being “nicer” or praying harder, without saying that this is not the norm, and that these people should seek help, then the book is placing the responsibility for fixing a spouse’s deep flaws and sins on the innocent party. That’s wrong.

Now, to be healthy a book doesn’t have to show people how to solve those big problems–no book can address every eventuality. But a book should allow people in bad situations to see, “what I am experiencing goes beyond normal and is actually toxic.”

 

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

So I think we should stop saying, “Well, I know the book has hurt some, but it really helped me, so I think it’s still a good book,” and start demanding more from our Christian resources. Frankly, I think the publishing world has not served marriage well in the Christian world. There’s far too many toxic books out there. But this will not end until all of us stop buying harmful books, stop recommending them, stop saying nothing when our churches do yet another small group study or marriage day based on a bad book.

Speak up. Demand more. It matters–maybe not for you personally, but certainly for those who are hurting in your midst.

What do you think? How can we get more helpful resources in our churches? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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75 Comments

  1. Becky

    That Love & Respect example… if “angry man coming at you with a knife”, or similar scenarios where the police should be called, doesn’t qualify as an abusive situation, what on earth WOULD qualify in the author’s mind? I kind of hate to say it, but maybe the answer is for the church as a whole being more open to sending people to trusted sources outside of the church. If so much of the advice that pastors and counselors within the church are taught keeps women and children trapped in unsafe situations, people are going to turn to secular resources when they can anyway, and likely walk away from Christianity in the process. But if they’re willing to offer help with things like referring to licensed therapists, offering childcare or rides so women can get the help they need, etc, it would go so much further in helping people heal.
    Also, maybe someone should send Eggerich a dictionary so he can look up what “abuse” means.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is awful, isn’t it, Becky? To be fair–the kitchen knife example was Debi Pearl in Created to Be His Helpmeet. But there are so many problematic ones in Love & Respect as well, including a guy who threw dishes at his wife, cutting her, who was then arrested. But apparently he found Jesus and was a wonderful man. Eggerichs then made a back-handed comment that the courts made him go to anger management despite the fact that he had repented. And then all was well. He gave several examples like that without ever mentioning love bombing or the abuse cycle. It’s just so terrible.

      Reply
      • Kim

        It is terrible! Let’s not forget his own story about leaving the wet towels on the bed as well… and his conclusions about it. Though not abusive or a “big deal”, that was the nail in the coffin for me! One can write hypothetically about marriage and give all kinds of caveats, but how you write about your own wife and yourself in said marriage book is really all we need to know about you and your “wisdom” and advice.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Exactly. The wet towels were ridiculous.
          I also found in the book that he frequently labelled every time that his wife would express her feelings as disrespectful. Basically, anything that made him feel uncomfortable was her being disrespectful. He just had no respect for her as a person in his anecdotes at all.

          Reply
          • Kim

            Such a key point! I see this being played out in lots of marriages.

    • Lea

      I think Debbie and some of these others must think you have to be put in the hospital multiple times for it to count as real abuse. Threatening with a knife should *absolutely* count, pregnant or not. Threatening with fists would count. Punching a wall counts. Sheesh.

      Reply
      • Monica

        We have learned so much from you and so appreciate your wise words. My husband and I have been a bit disheartened at the frequent bashing of other christian authors (some who have helped us tremendously). While I understand that we all come from different perspectives, it saddens us how many couples will not read some fantastic books because of your disapproval (I freely admit, there IS errors with any book written by humans). We’ve spit out a few bones from your books as well 😁. That being said, do you have a list of books you recommend?

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          We’ll be coming out with some in the new year. We just have to double check some data before we run the lists of the most helpful books, according to our survey of 20,000 women. Because it was open ended, we need eyeballs to actually read and code every single answer!

          Reply
    • Arwen

      Becky, you know what’s interesting about the whole knife scenario is that in stand your ground states you can actually shoot somebody for brandishing a deadly weapon at you. Cops shoot people who bring out knifes ALL THE TIME. And you would think in the Christian community where most are gun fanatics and conservatives, they should support a wife’s right to self defense by shooting her knife wielding husband. I mean they love it when cops do it so they should equally applaud when a wife practices self defense in her home too. But hypocrisy is the name of the game among most conservative gun toting Christians.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        Arwen,
        I don’t know that hypocrisy is being the name of the game among “most conservative, gun toting Christians” is an accurate statement. Although most people would hesitate to tell someone that they know to shoot their abusive spouse (it feels much different when it’s personal), the majority of pro-second amendment conservatives would be likely to leave positive comments on a news story in which this happened.
        In short, I don’t think it’s hypocrisy as much as it is the fact that many people have difficult time seeing abuse for what it is when it is someone they know personally vs. a news story.
        I also think that the statement comes across as very derisive towards a segment of the body of Christ. I know you are a strong woman who can be very passionate in her stances, and I am sure your desire was not to alienate Christians who were pro-second amendment. I just wanted to let you know that your statement could be taken that way, and may turn other Christians off from listening to your point of view – which would be a pity because I believe that you have much wisdom to share.

        Reply
        • Lea

          Eh, Lindsey, I’ve heard a lot of people in similar comment sections actively blaming women for their own abuse because they didn’t shoot such a person – yet when they do use physical violence against an abuser they are often punished by the legal system (more harshly than men who kill their wives in fact – there is data on this).
          People need to be careful putting the onus on someone who has been abused for not preventing it, when it clearly lies with the abuser. It seems like this is on a continuum actually – how far away is ‘you should have shot him/left’ from the books discussed that place the blame on women in other ways? It’s all the same end.
          I can’t help but notice theme that women are always somehow responsible, one way or the other, regardless of the outcome. I think that’s the bottom line that needs resolving.

          Reply
          • Cynthia

            I was just helping a client yesterday who told me the story of how many times she had to call the police on her drunk and abusive husband. She didn’t get decent help (ie laying charges against him and not just telling HER to go elsewhere for the night) from them until she moved to a different town and dealt with a different police force. She had also received no help from her family, since her mother believed that you stay with your husband no matter what, and didn’t have anywhere to go with the kids until friends took her in and managed to connect her with subsidized housing. So often, it isn’t a question of someone wanting to live without being abused, it is a question of whether they have the basic practical help to realistically leave, esp if they have children.

        • Arwen

          Lindsey, I’m not really talking about conservatives i’m specifically talking about conservative CHRISTIANS, like the Pearl’s, who would chastise a wife for leaving her abusive knife wielding husband will be the same ones chastising her for being a murderer for killing him on the grounds of self defense. I’m talking about the specific segment of the Christian population that has one standard for them and another for somebody else. The general conservative population will applaud her absolutely but in the CHRISTIAN conservative community where turning the other cheek and forgiveness are the usual alternatives given to abused spouses, they will question why she couldn’t have used those options instead of taking his life and taking the opportunity to repent away from him.
          And that’s why i say it’s hypocritical. The moral standard should be the same for the foreigner and for us.

          Reply
          • Lindsey

            Thank you for clarifying. I don’t disagree that there are some real…crazy, zealot ideas out there. I find it so tragic because I often thinK – just as with politics – most people are probably pretty normal, but the extreme crazies on both ends shout the loudest, and it just makes people very mistrustful and spiteful towards “them”.
            However, if asked in a one on one situation if they believed it was appropriate for a wife to shoot a husband who was coming at her with a knife, I believe almost everyone would say “yes”.
            That’s why dialogue is so important, and the idea of a “safe place” where no one can say anything that you don’t like is as harmful of an ideology as being unable to voice your opposition because you’re the wife. I think this iron sharpening iron series is greatly needed.
            Also, just to clarify to Lea: I don’t believe an abused spouse should attempt to arm themselves and fight back, as that could make a situation far worse in some circumstances. I believe fleeing is best. I would never think that they were responsible for their abuse.
            I am pro 2A, though, and believe that they have the God given right to defend themselves if need be, and I believe that before God they are justified in such a scenario.

    • Emily Shore

      I LOVE this post, Sheila!!! Wonderful response and I will be SHARING big time! My church recommends Eggerich’s new book: The Crazy Cycle. I think theyre using it in their latest marriage series which my husband and I have been pressured to take. It’s so sickening that Eggerichs is a millionaire who continues to sit on his gilded pedestal while hurting marriages and getting away with it again and again.
      Check into Alex Sealy. She’s another one who has lent to this toxic marriage ideals. “Ladies, the best thing you can do for your husband when you get home is to give him sex.” – Direct quote from Sparkle Conference with 3000+ women AND girls in attendance.

      Reply
  2. Lindsey

    I love this! I think a lot of the time if we find something personally beneficial we just don’t think about the ways that in which it could damage others. After awhile, it becomes difficult to acknowledge the problem because we become personally invested. That’s why it so important to hear other people’s stories. Great topic.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Lindsey!

      Reply
  3. Jess

    Yes, yes, yes. I’ve been thinking about this over the past week after reading some of the comments on your posts. I don’t know how you read all of the comments on your blog and maintain an attitude of encouragement and positivity. I mean, a lot of comments are encouraging, but it seems like the rest range from outright against you (or women in general), to completely missing the point, to just heartbreaking in what people are walking through.
    I think one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our relationships is to be aware of our lens. We all have our own lens that has been shaped by past hurts, our upbringing, our belief system, personal experiences, etc., and we view every situation through this lens. This is natural and is not necessarily a bad thing but when it becomes bad is when your lens gets so clouded that you can’t see clearly (or rationally). This, sadly, happens to people who are victims of abuse and the problem is perpetuated by people who try to offer advice based on their own clouded lens (like Eggerichs). I believe his lens is clouded by horrible teaching, ego, and a hardened heart. But when you’re a victim of trauma/abuse, your lens becomes clouded by the actions of your abuser and this problem is greatly amplified by people who try to offer that one-size-fits-all approach to problem-solving. The only one-size-fits-all approach to anything is the love and grace of Jesus.
    This lens-clouding, if you will, causes us to generalize groups of people, experiences, or teachings in such a way that we forget we are looking through our own lens. It’s ok and right to share our own experiences in the hope that it will bring us healing and help others who are walking through something similar. What is not ok is when we assume everyone is looking through the same lens. This is where I think a lot of authors, speakers, blog commenters (and people in the world in general) become hurtful instead of helpful.
    This concept applies to marriage as well. I made the mistake for a long time of living behind my clouded lens and thinking my husband was wrong for not seeing things the same way I saw them. When I started to really seek healing from the negative self-talk and lies that were clouding my lens and started asking myself through what lens my husband (who is an amazing, loving man and is not harmful or abusive) was looking at the situation, that’s when our communication started becoming the most effective and our intimacy grew in every area. Sometimes it helps us to clarify our own lens and sometimes it helps to ask for clarity of another’s lens.
    I would urge those with a Christian platform especially to be aware of the lens through which individuals in their audience may be looking. And to pray that God would open give them words that will bring healing and help no matter the lens through which a person reads them. And that means those words are centered around the person of Jesus. We would all do well to be aware of our lens and the lens of those with whom we are in relationship so that true understanding and healing will come.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very true, Jess. I know when I started writing I had a real lens on. I’m from a healthy marriage, and so the advice that I would give was more about being more giving, being less selfish, etc. All of that is well and good if you’re married to someone who is a good person; but when you’re not, it really doesn’t work. And I had to learn by listening to commenter after commenter that there was far more to it than that. I’m glad I did.

      Reply
      • Jess

        I’m so glad you did too. And I’m glad God granted you the humility to listen and be willing to acknowledge that and change. That is what makes a person an effective tool for Him to use and I am so grateful to Him and to you for your ministry.

        Reply
      • Kim

        You do an amazing job of strengthening heathy marriages and struggling marriages and helping those in destructive marriages as well, Sheila. Thank you for listening to your readers and caring! I have to say I have a different take on the “lens” idea- when you’re in an abusive situation, it’s more like putting on glasses for the first time to see the truth. And the truth will set you free! Even if it’s just in your own heart to know that God is love and this is not.

        Reply
    • Doug

      Jess.
      That is such an insightful observation. I never could have worded it that way, but the truth became obvious to me a few years ago. My wife and I had a really tumultous marriage, and we still would, until I started really understanding the dynamic you just described. Me understanding my own lens was important, and that started some of the positive. Me really trying to understand her lens(abusive childhood) allowed me to see areas that I had reinforced her fears, and clouded her lens even more. Once I understood, and changed my behavior a lot, she truly started becoming a different person. I came to understand that while I couldn’t heal her old wounds, Christ could. All I had to do was quit adding to them.
      At the same time, understanding my own lens allowed me to react differently and many of her behaviors became less hurtful, because I realized I was reacting to things from the past, not anything she was doing in the present.
      I love how you described that. It describes everything I learned by accident.

      Reply
  4. Nathan

    We can’t really demand that any book be perfect, although there’s a big difference between imperfect advice and things that actually harm us.
    Telling a woman that a violent husband isn’t really abusive is wrong, though. And like you, Sheila, if a husband is coming after his pregnant wife with a kitchen knife (threatening her AND their unborn child) doesn’t count as abuse, then I’m afraid to ask what IS.
    The idea that sex is all about men, their pleasure and their release is also abusive, as well as the concept that women exist primarily to serve this need. I do believe that most men need physical release from time to time, but demanding that the wife “perform” on demand is an example of abuse.
    That belief often escalates, with some people believing that “nice” girls don’t actually like sex, and are “wicked” if they derive any pleasure from it. So they’re supposed to give their husbands sex at any time, but not enjoy it in any way.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Nathan. No book can be perfect (and I’m always growing and learning and would likely write some of my books differently if I had a chance to do it over); but we can still expect certain minimums. And a lot of Christian books just don’t meet them.
      Many do–Boundaries in Marriage; The Emotionally Healthy Woman; 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. But many don’t. And much of the teaching on sex is quite dangerous, too, as you’ve pointed out. It seeps into our souls and does distort how we see intimacy. I’m excited to wade through our survey data and put some real numbers to this!

      Reply
  5. Anon

    A dear friend of mine was given ‘Love and Respect’ and told that following its advice would save her marriage. So she kept ‘respecting’ her violent, drink, drug and porn-addicted husband until his behaviour started to endanger the safety of their children. At that point, she ‘respectfully’ stated that he needed to change his behaviour to protect their children…and he then left the marriage.
    The tragedy is that she still doesn’t see the book is harmful. When I got engaged, she gave me a copy with the comment ‘I did try really hard but it didn’t work for me, but I hope it will for you.’ In her eyes, her marriage failed because she wasn’t ‘respectful’ enough when she asked her husband not to harm her kids!
    So no, the fact that many people have found a book helpful doesn’t mean it’s ok if it’s encouraging women to stay in dangerous situations like my friend experienced.
    (I tore my copy of the book into little bits and put it in the bin! )

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, isn’t that sad? I’m so glad your friend got out and got safe, but I’m so sorry that the book made her feel like she had done something wrong.
      Boundaries in Marriage is much better for abusive marriages, or Leslie Vernick’s books!

      Reply
  6. Amy

    A big growth area for me has been to critically evaluate books based on content and not just assume that a book is good or correct just because a big name Christian author wrote it. It seems that all too often, the North American Christian world just blindly embraces a certain resource because the name on the cover has a recognizable platform or is endorsed by a “reputable” organization. This has opened up my world to new authors and different books because I’m less worried about the marketing on the cover and more intrigued by the content of the book itself.

    Reply
  7. Lea

    I’m just thinking of that CS Lewis quote that if a story isn’t good enough for adults it isn’t good enough for children either…
    If a book isn’t good for bad marriages, is it really good for ‘good’ ones? Or are they just better able to filter out the bad stuff?
    Most of the books you’ve reviewed seem to be actively harmful for all relationships really, if taken as is.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So true, Lea! Funnily enough on Twitter this morning someone was sharing with me some awesome quotes about marriage from Joy Davidman, C.S. Lewis’ wife.
      I completely agree with you. (And I got to visit C.S. Lewis’ grave when we were in Oxford in the summer! That was really cool).

      Reply
      • Christina

        I agree that any marriage advice that isn’t good for abusive marriages isn’t good advice for okay or above average marriages.
        I was told by a pastor (that I now believe is a heretic) that God’s law that husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the Church is not a binding commandment because “it’s just too hard” (read that in the winiest 5-year-old voice and you will capture this 65-year-old’s attitude accurately.) But this law works well for men who are abusing and those who are being abused. If a man is being abused, he will realize that Jesus doesn’t allow the Church to wallow in her sins: once he grabbed a whip and chased people out of the temple. It also works for abusive men too: Jesus gave up everything, including his life, for the Church–the ultimate in unselfishness.

        Reply
  8. Nathan

    > > If a book isn’t good for bad marriages, is it really good for ‘good’ ones?
    In general, I would say if it’s good/bad for one, it’s good/bad for the other.
    I do agree with Sheila, though, that some advice can work for a marriage if both people are committed to being good, but if one is being abusive and one is the victim, then that same advice may not work as well.

    Reply
  9. nylse

    Which came first the thinking or the book?
    I think frequently the book reinforces what churches have taught in the name of Christianity. I think many know their logic is warped, but they have a different agenda, but it’s just close enough to what we believe the Bible says, so it’s correct.
    I think when women write similar books, its because either certain parts of this repressive theology has worked for them or they really want it to.
    If our marriages are a reflection of our relationship with Jesus, if this were the rubric we used, most of these books should not have gained popularity. But we’re desperate, so we pick up these books, hoping they will appeal to us.
    My little e-book on marriage does not reinforce repressive theology (take a look).
    I’m a long-time reader who read a lot of posts with skepticism and disbelief. May you not become weary in helping men and women see marriage through the lens of God’s love. Thanks for all you do.

    Reply
  10. AspenP

    Love & Respect nearly wrecked my marriage.
    Marilyn Howshall’s Empowered Hearts ministry tackled the common Christian response, “but he’s a man of God.” She had the simple retort, “is he acting like a man of God in the home or just at church?” I thought that question was so dismantling and truthful.
    The real man isn’t who is on stage or greeting others on Sunday. The real man is who he is the other 6 days of the week day in and day out.
    There are so many Christian women hiding the truth of the state of their marriage to protect the image of their husband’s ministry and it doesn’t honor God, but sometimes I feel like the church encourages women to do it.
    A.W. Tozer is hailed as this incredible theologian, but his marriage and home life were horrific.
    There is a reason the Bible spells out what it takes to be an elder in the church. Your character matters—who you are at home matters.
    My marriage turned around when I read Leslie Vernick’s The Emotionally Destructive Marriage & Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend. It felt like a totally different Christian message—the one we actually need. I also enjoyed Karen Evan’s short book From Pain to Paradise where she describes how her marriage was toxic and emotionally abusive with Pastor Jimmy Evans to how God transformed and restored her marriage to a path of healing. (Spoiler: she learned boundaries). A similar story from dysfunctional marriage to healing is mentioned at the beginning of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality where Geri places a hard boundary in her marriage to Pastor Peter Scazzero and she straight up leaves his church until he starts living at home like the man he portrays on Sunday. Warrior Wives!

    Reply
    • Lea

      Pastor Jimmy Evans
      Oh man, is that the gateway guy? I think I set through a sermon of his once…

      Reply
      • AspenP

        @Lea Maybe? It’s the same guy as Marriage Today. My pastor’s wife can’t stand him so I know he’s not everyone’s favorite. I know I haven’t heard all of his stuff either so I’m not totally endorsing him, but his and his wife’s marriage story gave me hope for my marriage for a long time.

        Reply
        • Lea

          I wasn’t a fan, but it was partly because he was yammering on about marriage on valentines day after I just had a really bad breakup and it was very irritating. (It also sounded like he was a very bad husband and ‘got better’ and I’m always sort of skeptical – but that sermon was all I heard from him so I can’t say much)

          Reply
    • Kim

      Thank you for this insight wow! And to hear of things turning around when the women stand up and have had enough! Pastors are broken too. We are all in need of a Savior and all loved by Him. Equal in His sight.

      Reply
  11. Karen

    Great article! I am also thinking of people who recommend purity culture dating books. I remember how quick people were to dismiss criticism when it came out that the messages in IKDG had been damaging to so many people because “it helped me…you can’t use it like a formula.”

    Reply
  12. M

    And if these books are so myopic, misleading, and harmful when it comes to OVERT abuse such as physical threats, rage, obvious verbal abuse or obvious harmful actions such as affairs, alcohol abuse or porn use… just imagine how destructive they are for those being abused— and severely, to the point of complex-PTSD, depression and suicide– by highly sophisticated narcissistic and sociopathic men who covertly abuse to commit “soul murder” through their myriad tactics. As the church cheers and approves of the men and chides the woman as she devolves into PTSD symptoms and a shell of herself.

    Reply
    • JR

      This was exactly me for years. I’ve been clawing my way out of depression, working through healing complex trauma and have thought many times dying would be so much kinder and gentler. So much psychotherapy, EMDR and fighting like hell to get in the other side. My children and I were abandoned from nearly our entire support system, including our church, when I walked away from the abuse. He, on the other hand, was surrounded because his wife left him. Healing through the layers of trauma is a full time job.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        I’m so sorry.

        Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That truly is tragic–and all too common. I’m so sorry. Keep fighting!

        Reply
  13. Chris

    I think among Christians more than among other people two things get confused:
    The value of a person per se on the one hand and the actions of that person on the other hand.
    I can agree that a person is valueable and totally disagree with what that person does.
    Yes, the person (abuser) is a valueable person per se and if that person acts in a toxic and harmful way, there need to be consequences. This hasn’t got anything to do with diminishing the value of that person nor with disobeying God. On the contrary -i t has everything to do with honouring God and the value of ALL the people involved: the people affected need protection and support, and the person acting in a toxic way doesn’t get support for the toxic behaviour. Setting healthy boundaries is an act of love for everybody involved.
    Of course God also loves people who do abusive things, but it’s a terrible or toxic confusion to believe that therefore they should be granted the space and possibilities to go on with that behaviour.
    In my Bible I read “Love the Lord your God and your neighbour AS yourself.” So there is equality between the love for the other person and for myself.
    It saddens me that for centuries Christians of all denominations have suggested there is some kind of special “holyness” in NOT loving yourself in the sense of not taking care of yourself.
    Or as a non-believing (!!!) therapist once put it:
    So if there is a God, life is a gift from that God. Would it not be disrespectful towards the giver of that gift (God) to disregard that gift( your own life) and allow it to be broken or wither away? And would honouring God not imply honouring the life He gave?
    Jesus frequently set boundaries for himself and also walked away from toxic people.
    And yes, He did give His life for all of us and our sins, but out of His free will, so that’s different again.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very insightful, Chris! Thank you. I think you’re right. And we also say that if someone says they’re sorry, we have to forgive and reconcile, which is also not true. Repentance has to be established over time and trust needs to be rebuilt.

      Reply
  14. Arwen

    I agree with your overall point Sheila. I don’t think it’s even possible to write a marriage book that is one size fits all. Because so many people live in so many different circumstances that what works here in the Western world will not work in other parts of the world. For example, it’s easy to tell a women who’s being abused to walk away if she lives in the West but if she lives in the Middle East, where exactly is she going to walk away to? Similar you when i read a book i also try to figure out if the advice given can be applied to people who aren’t in my shoes. I’m surrounded by many people of color so it’s imperative i take cultural nuances into consideration before i hand them a book that might add fuel to the fire. Even the good books like the ones you recommended can have their blind spots and be to simplistic.
    But your last point pretty much sums up how our attitudes should be even when considering good marriage books, “But a book should allow people in bad situations to see, “what I am experiencing goes beyond normal and is actually toxic.” Even if the person can’t escape in the meantime they can be vindicated in their hearts and mind that their circumstance is unhealthy, toxic, abusive, etc.

    Reply
  15. Emmy

    If we just could have all the hindsight we need in advance…
    Sometimes it can be hard to see whether a book is good or harmful. Some books I thought being good at the moment proved to be harmful after so many years.
    The worst part about harmful books: they have the ability to even harm good people and good marriages. Poison is not bad only for the sick. Poison can make healthy people sick too. So can toxic books.
    I have not read Love and Respect nor Created to be his Helpmeet. I have only seen some quotes that are enough to convince me not to read these books.
    I did read books like The Christian Family and The Christian Marriage by Larry Christenson. They seemed so Biblical. Now I regret me and my husband ever read them because they did cause a lot of harm to our relationship and to the way we raised our children. But it took me years and years to see the harmful elements.
    But this is a great article and may provide useful insight and help many to avoid the pittfalls of toxic books. I pray your article will open many eyes.

    Reply
    • Lea

      Poison is an excellent analogy here! Just because a healthy person can survive a certain dose that might kill a small or immunocompromised/sick person, does not mean it is healthy.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Emmy! And if you think a book led you to make big mistakes parenting, it’s okay to talk to your kids and apologize, if you think it’s appropriate. I’ve had to apologize for some things we did, too. It helps the relationship be built on solid footing as well. I think God often restores relationship when we’re able to be vulnerable and honest. You may have already apologized, but I just thought it was a good point to make to anyone reading. Even if we let books hurt us in the past, we can still move forward.

      Reply
  16. Anonymous

    I’m just coming back right now from a program where a supposed minister of God was telling women who complain that there husbands come back late to the house, that there are other women whose husbands come enter there houses only once in three months. I just couldn’t believe my ears that this was actually coming from the pulpit where the gospel of Christ has been preached. At 30, I praying hard that what am seeing and hearing in the Christiandom does not affect my thought life and mind. I grew up in a circle where people were cautioned and disciplined for any form of immorality and most marriages were stable because people were careful. Though they sincerely loved the Lord too. I really don’t know how to navigate Christian circles again. I’be literally been ‘church hopping’ for the last few months because of similar issues and am coming to a point where am about to decide to just stay home. But being a bible believing christian, I understand the importance of fellowship. Also factoring in that am a single lady who thought she’d be married in her 20s but has found herself in her thirties because I wasted most of my 20s dating supposed christian guys who were living lives of secret sin and acting like they were entitled to those type of lives as ‘men'(Why won’t they have that pattern of thought when these things are openly encouraged from the pulpit), I can’t think of not going to church any longer. You know the thing about ‘putting yourself out there’. But it scares me more to imagine there are young men in that church listening to this same toxic message. Please pray for me, for the churches in my city and for marriages in the Christiandom. I really don’t understand where we’re headed. And as a young person, you’re also being careful not to step on toes.
    I literally picked up my bag and walked out of the meeting. And I sincerely don’t want to ever go back to that church again. But it seems to be the same thing everywhere. I’m sincerely at loss. I really pray the Lord will just deliver my husband to me straight from heaven. Then I’ll now have to wonder which church am going to raise my children in. They definitely can’t here this message. Please pray and counsel.

    Reply
    • Arwen

      Hay Anonymous, just be encourage in the fact that Jesus is cleansing the Church right before our eyes. Rejoice in the fact that they are bold enough to say it from the pulpit so you can hear it upfront and can leave immediately rather than finding out months or years later due to them hiding their toxicity. I have been hurt by the Church so much and had to leave a few for some of the most hurtful things they have said from the pulpit. The first Church i left made me physically ill when our divorced Pastor, who’s wife left him for another man said from the pulpit, “I’ll never marry African women because they are ugly and their lip plates scare me.” God is my witness he uttered those words from the pulpit to hundreds of believers, i never stepped foot there again. And what made it even more shocking is when the people at that church kept contacted me to ask why i had disappeared. Unbelievable!
      I’m single like you almost in my 30s, i’m 29. I now attend a much healthier church. If you go to Churchfinder.com, 9marks.org, acts29.com, and put in your city they have lists of churches to choose from. I pray you find a healthy Church because they are out there. Unfortunately the toxic ones are easier to find but finding the valuable jewels takes a bit more work.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, Anonymous. I’ll say a prayer for you! That’s tough. I know you’re discouraged; I remember you from other comment threads. If the churches that you’re going to are all like this, though, maybe you should try a different type of church (if you haven’t already)? Some denominations seem healthier in terms of what they believe about women, responsibility for lust, etc. It will be interesting once we’ve analyzed our survey to look at some of the denominational data on porn use and attitudes, too.

      Reply
    • Lea

      What husbands that are not a deployment or something only enter the house every 3 months!!! What on earth is that pastor saying, they’re camped out at their mistress house?

      Reply
  17. Patrick Anth

    Hey Sheila. What do you think about some of the secular books out there, such as “Come As You Are?”” You don’t go into great detail about sex. It seems to me that we can get valuable information from such books, especially on how women’s bodies work and respond. Yes, there might be some inappropriate information, but it seems to me that mature Christians can recognize that and discard it as inappropriate, no? Also, could you address sexuality among older (50 plus) folks? I read “Naked at Our Age.” It contained some very useful info, but also some outrageously inappropriate info! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’ve heard that book recommended several times, and in our survey it was listed by many women as a really helpful resource. I’m eager to take a look at it as I prepare our orgasm course!

      Reply
  18. Kathi

    Thanks for this important post, Sheila!
    I’ve reviewed Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife,” and I can say that her words are toxic. She claims that because she is an older woman, she is told by God to mentor younger women to live a godly life (Titus 2:3-5). However, she never really shows that she has relationships with her readers.
    While she says that a woman in an abusive relationship should reach out to authorities, she constantly questions whether women are actually abused. One quote from her book confirms this: “God does not ask a wife to submit to abuse, but too often the word abuse is used so frivolously that it does a disservice to those women who are truly abused. It’s the degree or method of control that determines whether behavior is truly abusive or simply bad behavior.”
    I’m currently reading and reviewing Martha Peace’s, “The Excellent Wife.” Peace seems to come from a biblical counseling point of view. The abused wife always needs to consider what sin she contributed to the abuse. The farther I get into the book, the more defeated I feel – and I don’t even buy into it!
    I’ve heard from several readers how books like this enabled them to stay in abusive marriages hoping that they could make their situation better. If they just prayed harder, talked gentler, submitted more, provided more sex, etc. etc., then the marriage would have been better. The problem is, these books never address the honest root of the problem in abuse. Abuse is never a marriage problem, it’s the perpetrators problem of maintaining power and control. I wish we could burn them all!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Kathi, I’ve read your reviews of The Excellent Wife over on Spiritual Sounding Board. Well done! The Excellent Wife was mentioned a lot on our survey as a resource that seriously harmed marriages. What a tragedy that it sold so many copies.

      Reply
  19. BoundByLove

    Was going through my book shelf and discovered the love and respect study book that was handed out from when our church did it as a class. I about vomited when I flipped through it…
    Need to burn that thing…

    Reply
  20. Kim

    I am so grateful for your courage in speaking the truth that so many won’t or are blind to. This post is crucial! This isn’t a minority, this isn’t a side issue. This is the huge elephant in the room, the emperor has no clothes and no one will just say it! And we can no longer just sit back and let this play out, hoping for the best. You are right to call this out, and I will pray for your stamina to handle the flack that is sure to come.
    In my experience the conservative Christian church is rife with spousal (and child) abuse. The ultra reformed and patriarchal cultures as a whole are so brainwashed they think abuse is a trial given by God to endure for His glory. But who does that fall on? The women and children, not the men. (Typically, though I know men are abused as well) It’s so backwards when you look at the call in Ephesians for men to lay their lives down; I could rant for a long time. I think these cultures set men up as demi-gods in their own homes. To even consider egalitarianism is to be a reprobate.
    The marriage books I was given back in the day were all of the variety you mentioned. Even in my brainwashed naive hopeful state, I had a distaste for the Martha Peace books, the Doug Wilson’s and all of the rest. I just couldn’t put my finger on why!? If something feels “off” explore it! Compare it to scripture! Don’t do what I did and waste a lot of years just complying for the sake of false peace!
    These two points you said really hit home:
    “It is those in difficult marriages who tend to buy Christian marriage books, so how these books handle these issues is of grave importance, because it is these vulnerable people who will bear the brunt if something goes wrong.”
    “That’s what going on with too many Christian marriage books.
    They’re saying they’re not meant to be used in abusive situations, but then they’re describing abusive situations without naming them as such.”
    The vulnerable people bear the brunt when the gospel calls for the opposite, for the stronger to carry the burden. And yes hurting people are going to be reading allll the books. You nailed it when you called out how they use abusive situations as examples! Oh my! It’s about time someone did!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Kim. I’m eager to see what the response will be to the open letter to Focus on the Family that’s going up on the blog today!

      Reply
  21. Blessed Wife

    Jesus gave us such a good, simple litmus test, and it works for books as well as people:
    “A good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”- Luke 6:43
    I think one problem we have is recognizing in the moment what is true fruit, and what is just blossoming. The love bombing by an abuser who wants his or her victim back is blossoming, but hope can sure make it look like fruit to an abused spouse who loves them and desperately wants them to change. (Or to a dogmatist who wants to believe his/her advice “saved” this marriage.)
    Some plants blossom bountifully without ever setting fruit, because the pollen (true repentance) isn’t there. And sometimes the flowering plant is a larkspur, which will kill you no matter how pretty the flowers are. You tell which blossoms yield wholesome fruit by standing back and waiting til the flower drops. You don’t bring fruit to the table until you’ve watched it grow and you know it’s good.
    “The works of the flesh are manifest, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousy, wrath, strife, divisions, heresies, envy, violence, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…
    The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.…”- Gal. 5:19-23
    A person can call themselves a Christian, changed, whatever, and a book can be sold and advertised as “godly” help. The fruit it bears determines the truth of the label.

    Reply
    • Maria

      Good points.

      Reply
  22. Sheep

    Back in the “bad old days” when I was realizing just how screwed up my marriage actually was… adultery, abuse, neglect, selfishness, no repentance. I think I read just about every christian marriage book known to mankind, thinking that I was going to find the magic formula that would fix my marriage, teach me how to be a better, more loving husband, and show me how I could sacrifice more of myself for my wife. Each book pumping me full of ideas about how to communicate better, love more unconditionally, be more like Jesus. Ultimately, they were pumping me full of HOPE that I really had no good reason to have.
    Most of these books are written for 2 good intentioned christian people that love each other but just have a few problems. Unfortunately, we did not fit in that comfortable little category! I’m also beginning to realize that there are an awful lot of us out there that don’t fit in that category. It sure would have been nice if there would have been a disclaimer in the beginning of these books that says “please put this book down if you are dealing with an unrepentant abuser, unrepentant adulterer, or anyone else that is so prideful that they will not see or deal with MAJOR sin issues in their life”
    It wasn’t until I picked up The Emotionally Destructive Marriage that I began to realize just how bad things really were, and that my hope was very misplaced and was actually doing damage.
    Leslie Vernick has a really good blog post this morning about hope. Frankly, too many of us feel hope and use it to justify situations and actions that keep us locked into abusive, destructive, and dangerous marriages. Don’t get me wrong, hope can be and is a wonderful thing…. when it’s based in truth and reality. But when it is based on the fantasy that somehow things will get better or that God is miraculously going to change an unrepentant person so that I can have a good marriage, it is dangerous. What that spouse needs is hard consequences, not a hopeful spouse.
    The books don’t like to talk about that because it might actually lead to divorce and heaven forbid we say that word out loud!

    Reply
  23. Bre

    Wait…a CHRISTIAN author seriously thought that it was fine and normal for a man to chase his pregnant wife with a knife?!?!? Oh dear Lord. What world are these people living in? What happened to living in love and people who want to serve the Lord not being violent or quarrelsome? This stuff makes no sense. In the secular world: chase some one with a knife and it’s abuse and attempted assault and is possible grounds for an arrest. In some “Christian” world: it is okay to terrorize and threaten and attempt to harm someone who loves you and is carrying your child, in the name of Jesus…who…said that we shouldn’t be violent or abusive to each other… wait, what? If I didn’t know it was actually a real book and I didn’t trust the quotations provided by you and others (ain’t ever touching that sucker!), then I would laugh and think that it was made up because it’s seriously (almost) too nuts to believe!

    Reply
  24. Mina

    I agree w/ all you posted here, and the point that these teachings normalize abuse is so true, and key. 1 more thing, though:
    “teaching this normalizes men’s sexual sin and kills a woman’s libido” these philosophies teach that the blood of Christ is not sufficient to save, but actions are necessary – and not just working to save oneself, which is familiar enough, but the works of those outside yourself – in this case, the woman. Christ is not sufficient to save a man from the sin of lust. But a woman’s choice to wear sleeves is. The Holy Spirit is not powerful enough to work change in a man’s heart, but sating him w/ some church-sanctioned sex will do (as much sex as possible, as denying him is supposedly a sin*). This is antithetical to the Gospel.
    *Also, it’s curious, isn’t it, that the “do not deny” blurb is taken literally and out of all helpful context, but “pluck out your eye” in response to lust is not…

    Reply
    • Mina

      I’m going to rephrase my last sentence a bit: It’s curious that “pluck out your eye” is never taken literally, and often not taken anywhere useful at all (like the lecture podium), while “do not deny” is taken very literally and applied anywhere the wanna-be teacher wants to apply it, in almost any (or for some, definitely any) situation, regardless of context.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So true, Mina! And thank you for pointing us back to the cross.

      Reply
  25. Sarah

    And this is why my husband and I ended up in counseling. I never spoke up about a lot of things because I was trying to be “a good wife”. He is definitely not a bad man don’t get me wrong he is amazing and loving but he needed to step up in areas. The counselor was hard on him, in my head I was thinking “well I should have some of the blame in this” , but the counselor really challenged him to step up. My husband so humbly did and we worked through it and are so much stronger now. I’m just so glad I stopped reading some of these books and got a great Christian counselor

    Reply
  26. Lyndall Cave

    The same goes for inspirational Christian movies. I’m looking at you, War Room.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear you. Maybe God doesn’t just want you to pray–maybe He wants you to DO SOMETHING! Prayer is not just the battle; it’s also preparation for the battle.

      Reply
  27. James Peterson

    Hello Sheila! Wonderful blog! I agreed with your point, Christian marriage books do not harm people and also not harm a marriage. I was looking for something like that. Thanks for sharing this knowledge. Keep sharing.

    Reply
  28. Dar

    I might come off as a feminsty feminist but I always wonder if there were books out there that were women centric and that hurt men the same way that loads of marriage books hurt women but some marriages benefitted from reading said books what the collectives reaction would be to that? Would these books still be best selling books on the market? Or is there a different way we measure harm to one gender verses the other one. I don’t want to even think what the answer would be but for some reason I imagine it a lot different than what the response is with these books that are harmful to women.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think the difference is that in evangelicalism the harm is usually one way, because of the belief that men have authority over women, and that women must obey men. There’s not a similar teaching in the other direction that can be perverted.

      Reply
  29. Lisa

    It’s been about ten years since I first read L&R. It almost destroyed my marriage. It took a really long time to recover.
    What that book boils down to is the author insisting that husbands have a right to unconditional respect. Then he spends pages and pages detailing how while wives need respect, too, their husbands can and should disrespect their wives.
    He details how a wife is not any different than an 18 year old child still living in her parents’ home. Many of us were in that situation and many of us have an adult child still living under our roof. (Our oldest will be 18 soon and my husband and I are discussing what our house rules will be at that time.) That person is a legal adult, but as long as they are living under our roof, we hold the trump card. Some parents are extremely lenient in these situations, some are extremely strict. It varies widely and probably has a lot to do with how soon that adult child saves up a deposit for an apartment.
    In Eggerich’s book, a wife is no different. She can make some decisions but she needs to frequently run them by her husband or she’s being disrespectful. And he always holds the trump card, no different than a parent holds the trump card. Even when it comes to sex, to it’s up to him to decide when and her to lie there and receive.
    It’s sick, twisted, and no wonder women feel physically ill reading this book and having to live it out. Your husband is essentially your new parent and you must have sex with him whenever he wants. Vile.
    Don’t forget the section where he wrote that he believes that most women think of themselves as NOT SINNING. He didn’t write that he’s met one or two women who think they don’t sin. He wrote that he believes MOST women believe that they don’t sin. Where does he get this? Has he ever actually listened to a woman with an open mind?
    I cannot help but feel so sorry for his wife. Her husband thinks so little of her. She’s a woman. Therefore she’s immature, arrogant, and needs to be parented the rest of her life. And their sex life is nothing more than his release and her cooperation. Heartbreaking.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It really is heartbreaking! Just awful. And Lisa, great to see you here again! I haven’t seen you in a while.

      Reply
  30. Sadie

    For me, one of the most irritating phrases in the whole of the marriage blogosphere (Christian or otherwise) is “…I get it…” followed by a ‘but’ or ‘however’ then umpteen reasons why they don’t get it. This is a dismissive practice which is so common. I usually stop reading when I get to the “I get it”.

    Reply

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