John Eldredge (WILD AT HEART) and wife Stasi (CAPTIVATING) join forces to present to married and single people alike a battle plan of sorts for understanding the enemies of marriage and how to adequately combat them. The Eldredges are perhaps so well loved because they are honest in their struggles --- as individuals and as a couple. It is in this same spirit, one of honest transparency, that readers (both male and female) will discover what God's Word says about marriage. Careful readers will also learn how the real enemy is not another person, but a spiritual battle fought in the heavenlies and making its presence known amongst us. The authors write that marriage is "fabulously hard" but "It can be done. And it is worth it."
Married for over 26 years, the Eldredges share of several times during their marriage when divorce looked like a pretty good option for both of them. In great detail, they share individually what each was thinking, and dealing with that contributed to the temporary mindset of ending their marriage. In their openness, others will find themselves nodding in agreement and understanding, grateful that this highly visible public couple of faith is willing to tell married life like it is.
Hitting the hot topics so common to marriage struggles, the Eldredges spend considerable space covering such themes as developing a shared mission mindset that tells the world (and themselves) that "we are in this together" and reaches beyond the scope of raising a family. The Eldredges also explain what they term as the "bedrock" of marriage in their material on developing deep levels of companionship with one's spouse. Put this way, "experiencing true friendship with your mate, taking real delight in his or her company, is essential to the health of the marriage."
On a trickier angle is how couples handle those "taboo topics," and the Eldredges affirm that every man and wife has them. It's those touchy issues that neither spouse wants to look at and address, but where --- unless met with courage and worked through --- there is a residue of bitterness, anger and resentment. Finally, the area of sex is dealt with practically, simply and straightforwardly. They open their chapter on sex with these quippy few lines of instruction: "You need to do it. Often. In a way you both enjoy. Immensely. If this isn't the case, then you need to deal with why it isn't. 'Cause you need to do it. Often. In a way you both enjoy it. Immensely." That said, and half in jest, they again allow their personal story to tell itself, and in the telling bring healing to others.
Thoroughly practical and reading like a story (because the Eldredges do tell their story page by page as they exhort and teach biblical principles), they have chosen to complete the book with an Appendix full of beautifully rich prayers for couples to pray. This habit of bringing to the Throne of Grace every issue and obstacle pretty much sums up the Eldredges’ theory of making marriage work.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on December 15, 2009