Acting right when your spouse acts wrong will not necessarily guarantee a more satisfying marital relationship, nor will it automatically make your spouse change his or her ways-although both could occur. It will, however, help you see how God is stretching you in the midst of your marital difficulties, teach you to respond wisely when wronged, and lead you into a deeper relationship with Christ as you yield your will to his plan for your life and learn to be more like him.
- Leslie Vernick
- Publication Date:
- Waterbrook Press
- Life Challenges
Another great book coming out of the movement that Gary Thomas started with his book Sacred Marriage. What if a happy marriage wasn't actually the end goal and instead God had something much more powerful and ultimate in mind when it came to matrimony? Holiness over happiness is the Kingdom way. It's the same in all of our other relationships too. God doesn't guarantee happy trails but He does guarantee holiness through trials. Pain, CS Lewis said, was "...God's megaphone..." that we can't ignore and from which we learn and grow much more than we do from comfort and ease.
Leslie Vernick has done a great service to the married among us with her book How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong. Provocative title to say the least. This is a wonderful resource, very practical, convicting and accessible. Leslie is a clinical social worker with years of experience helping people think about and behave Biblically within their marriages. You will not find cheap, quick and shallow fixes for conflict in these pages. Instead, you will be challenged to step back and think eternally about your relationships. Disappointments and failures (both yours and others) are used by God in mighty ways to turn your focus away from trying to find peace and fulfillment in your spouse (who will inevitably let you down) and aim your affections, instead, upon God Himself and the grace He extends in His Son Jesus Christ.
"Please take note that what we hope to birth in the process of our suffering makes a difference in our ability to endure. If we hope to invoke a positive response from our spouse, whether it be a heartfelt apology, personal repentance, an improved marital relationship, or a happy marriage, we may end up sorely disappointed and angry. This might cause us to give up in the midst of labor. ...But if we can focus on birthing the character of Christ in us, then we can labor with joy, even in the midst of hardship. We can know that this sanctification process shall birth the lovely image of Christ in us."
This would be a great book for counselors to use for young married couples in their first few years after the honeymoon is over. :) I can highly recommend it as it's a work birthed out of the hope of the good news of Jesus Christ. Because Christ has come and paid the penalty for sin, we can be set free from the destructive cycles we get caught up in, in our marriage and instead follow the principles of scripture which will put our feet on solid ground and move us forward. It may not make the pain and difficulty of every marriage go away (sin often has long term and unavoidable consequences) but it will give you the outlook and approach to things that will spur perseverance, godliness and a good witness to a watching world.