Married but Not Engaged: Why Men Check out and What You Can Do to Create the Intimacy You Desire
Paul Coughlin, author of the catchy NO MORE CHRISTIAN NICE GUY, is back with his latest project, MARRIED BUT NOT ENGAGED. He has teamed up with his wife, Sandy, for the book, and together they tackle false guilt that women sometimes feel about connecting with their emotionally uninvolved husbands.
Written for both men and women, the book focuses on some of the underlying issues of marriage from the perspectives of both partners. It explores the three factors that contribute to a man's passivity as well as common roadblocks along the way to intimacy. In addition, it looks at the internal conflict that comes with trying to be a Christian Nice Guy, which the authors dub a "CNG."
They write, "He's fighting so many internal battles that when it comes to life with you, he seems to be going through the motions of marriage, consistently shut down or difficult to reach. As you'll see, he doesn't realize that his heart is required to create intimacy with you, with others and with God. He thinks following all the rules will sustain his relationships. He doesn't yet know that intimacy comes not from checking off a to-do list."
In response to such marital challenges, the Coughlins offer practical advice in various relationship areas. As far as communication goes, they encourage readers to express themselves honestly and vulnerably, but take time to listen with empathy. In addition, partners are encouraged to model optimism and look for grace. At the same time, partners can model assertiveness in their words and actions. This kind of assertiveness means sharing feelings and thoughts while still being respectful of your partner. The Couglins also prescribe real intimacy.
They write, "We often misconceive of intimacy by thinking of it as a single, isolated act, like a memorable conversation in a romantic restaurant or a pleasurable sexual experience in an attractive hotel room. But those are just stages on which intimacy might unfold. Intimacy isn't an event --- it's what happens during these events --- two people actively pursuing the other person's deepest being. It is speaking the language of the other person's soul. For example, many married couples have honeymoons, but not all honeymoons are intimate and soulful."
Overall, the book is filled with solid advice and insights. Along the way, there are a variety of letters from Christian Nice Guys and stories from those who have struggled with these issues. At times, the writing runs flat and sounds more like a rant or a radio show (which shouldn't be a surprise since Paul hosts a radio show on The Dove in Southern Oregon) than a well-written work, but the stories are enough to keep the reader moving forward.
MARRIED BUT NOT ENGAGED is a solid resource and should be recommended to anyone wanting to get a fresh perspective on relationships as well as strengthen their marriage. The timeless advice is useful to all kinds of couples.
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg on August 1, 2006