[From Julie] Noel and I do a lot of reading. Okay well, he does a lot of reading. I do a fair amount. He reads tons for his thesis and lesson prep and lets just say I have different interests. Noel’s reading is probably more life changing than my
historical fiction reading. But mine is more interesting I’m sure. We decided it might be a good thing if we started reading books specifically for marriage enrichment that we could discuss on the blog so first up for review is a book by Kay Arthur called A Marriage Without Regrets. I heard Kay speak in the past and had enjoyed her lessons so I thought I would read one of her many books. This one I picked up at a conference back in the spring where she was one of the presenters.
I found A Marriage Without Regrets encouraging and Kay definitely knows what she is talking about. She has experienced the pain of divorce when she split with her first husband and then walked through his suicide with their two young sons. Now Kay is happily married to her second husband of over 25 years and they are enjoying their grandchildren together. Kay is very upfront about the pain of the years after her divorce and she takes full responsibility for her part in her marriage break-up. She knows it is not easy to be married especially if your marriage is on shaky ground from the beginning.
Kay’s writing voice is compassionate but I did find that there is sometimes an edge to her writing style that is a little distracting at times. However I found her chapter on love to be very enlightening. Kay talks about the four Greek words for love, storge, eros, phileo, and agape. Agape has it’s origins in the nature of God and it’s this kind of love that is unconditional and never gives up. It is the noblest kind of love. Agape is the word that is used to describe God’s love for us. This is the kind of love that a couple should strive for. A love that chooses to love, no matter what. That’s a tall order for us mere humans but can you imagine if both a husband and a wife were committed to loving each other this way. Wow! That would be a great marriage.
We’ve all heard the verses instructing husbands to love their wives. Kay brings out the point that husbands are mandated by God to love their wives. It isn’t a suggestion it’s a command. He takes it that seriously. God isn’t asking husbands to feel a certain way or depend on their emotions to dictate their love. He is just instructing them to love their wives. Make the choice and never say ‘I just don’t love you anymore’.
Kay also deals with the issue of submission in a way that I had never heard taught before. It is not the husband role to force his wife into submission. He is only told to love her. It’s the wife’s decision to submit because her husband is the head of their family. Again it is a choice that wives are called to make. Certainly if a husband is agape loving his wife it would be simple for a wife to submit under that kind of love. This type of marriage is God’s ideal and is often very difficult to actually live on a day to day basis particularly if a couple has many areas of struggle. Kay does a great job in bringing this principle into everyday life.
Kay also does a wonderful job in discussing the issue of communication in a marriage. She encourages couples to build a foundation of four essential factors; the priority, permanence, oneness and openness of your marriage. This foundation is what makes positive communication possible. Kay wrote this one sentence that really spoke to me. “The way you communicate is influenced by who you are; the way your mate hears you is influenced by who he or she is. ” She goes on from there to give ten ways to sharpen your skills at communication with your spouse and build the ‘friendship factor’ in your marriage. Great stuff and worth practicing.
Kay also does a great job with issues of sex, raising children and of course money. All within the frame work of what God wants for our marriages. The book is definitely worth the read. For those of you in the area, if you want to borrow my copy let me know. It’s already pre-highlighted for ya. 🙂