Dr. H. Norman Wright, a marriage and family therapist who is the prolific author of more than 70 books, offers today's easy access divorce-prone culture a hope-driven yet practical alternative to succumbing to the statistics of marital demise. Wright has coined the term "Marriage Keepers" and uses this simple phrase to help couples redefine their marriage relationship from a God-ward orientation.
Says Wright, "Being a Marriage Keeper means being on a mission --- to demonstrate that God's plan for marriage works, to call others to experience it according to His plan, and to rescue those on the brink of disintegration." Further, Wright continues that Christ has given Christian believers a mandate to follow his stead in all areas of life, which includes marriage relationships, flawed as they might be. Christians who struggle within the confines of their marriage and who are transparent to this fact allow others the opportunity to come alongside and offer nurturing, timely support as well as demonstrating that God can provide the gracious stamina to tough it out through the difficult patches of life --- all community-building efforts that strengthen the individual, the family, and the church itself.
Wright, who also serves as a trauma specialist, recognizes that the church in general comes through "after the fact" in response to many instances of life devastation. However, he believes that churches need to have a plan of intervention in place before marriages crumble.
Wright's text begins with an all-too common current-day scenario, in which a friend telephones another friend to inform them of the impending demise of their marriage. The author challenges readers to thoughtfully consider their reply at such an emotionally charged moment. As a caring confidant, one naturally desires to fully support another in the face of such pain, yet Wright offers a more forward-thinking plan, a God-inspired solution. He suggests that fellow Christians gently encourage their friend to consider a different perspective from that of ending the marriage to one of "image bearing." Rather than seeking personal fulfillment, happiness, and one's own best interest through one's mate, God calls his followers to "glorify one another, not degrade." "Degrading" is a violation of another person emotionally, physically, or sexually. It can also take the form of simple "using" another for one's own glory or purpose.
Throughout his text, Wright offers practical and persuasive ways to alter this faulty relational style by detailing in chapter-by-chapter form how couples can learn to adopt a "we" rather than a "me" mentality. He invites readers to up their commitment level --- being committed to the marriage even when commitment to one's spouse is lagging or even absent. He also challenges Christians to understand the devastation that divorce brings to everyone within the family unit as well as society at large. One of the highlights of this text is the author's positively inspiring chapter on the benefits of marriage, what he terms as a "carefully guarded secret," providing sincere empathy paired with unwavering biblical principles.
In sum, Wright invites married couples to adopt this creed each and every day. "Today, I'm going to say 'I do' all over again by considering our marriage in every choice I make." Wise counsel.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on September 16, 2005