Love and War: A Book on Marriage

I'll admit being a bit nervous about reading this book. I had read/skimmed other books by these authors {years ago*} and remember feeling like the authors weren't as down to earth as I would like. You know, I wanted them to write about real life. The nitty gritty. The hard stuff. What we all experience and search for answers for.

Well, this book does that.
"(Don't you feel embarrassed to admit how hard your marriage is?) Maybe it's just us. Nope. This is everyone. We might as well come out and say it. The sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we will find our way through. Of course marriage is hard. For heaven's sake, bring together a man and a woman -- two creatures who think, act, and feel so differently you would think they'd come from separate solar systems -- and ask them to get along for the rest of their lives under the same roof. That is like taking Cinderella and Huck Finn, tossing them in a submarine, and closing the hatch. What did you think would happen?"
My husband and I have long since realized that marriage isn't a fairy tale {hello baby nine months after "I do"}, but we'd both say in a heartbeat that marriage is worth it all. We've had so many hard talks, but the amazing thing -- if we try to stay open minded and learn something from the difficult situation -- we always come out ahead. Understanding each other better. Loving each other for putting for the effort to understand. Becoming best friends.

Stasi and John {the authors} give such accurate descriptions {I think} of what men and women are looking for in a marriage.

She longs to be seen and valued for who she is -- to be truly KNOWN. Being deeply known, and still loved. 

We dream about it. We cry when we see it demonstrated in movies. We want men to "get" us and to cherish us.

And men joke about how they will never understand women. Ouch.

He wants to be supported, believed-in, no matter what. He wants to rescue the girl and take her away on an adventure. He wants her beauty. Offered freely.

And women want to do be independent. Ouch. 

I dog-eared so many pages in this book and I know I need to read it all again. It's chock full of insights and wisdom that really made sense to me.

Like this:
"It dawns on me {John} that I relate to my marriage like I relate to my health. I do the bare minimum to get by, hoping to get away with my indulgences and my neglect, throwing down some communication and a bit of romance now and then, like I take vitamins as a sort of insurance policy. I ignore my health, for the most part, and hope for the best."
John and Stasi talk about the ways to invest in marriage, to give it more than just basic maintenance. A husband and wife need to be a united front -- praying together, fighting the devil together, adventuring together, serving together. Living life as a shared adventure. Discovering genuine companionship. {They go much deeper on all these topics in chapters five, six and seven.}

They talk about the "gophers" in the garden. He tosses his dirty clothes toward the hamper, not in. She picks at her cuticles. He makes funny sounds. She tells him where to turn...five seconds before he flicks the already-mentally-cued signal.

The husband and I can relate. And we're learning to let the small things go {at least 25 days out of the month}.
"We must simply choose to let the other person's irritating nuances or thoughtless actions go. Rise above it; forgive before they even ask for forgiveness; keep no record of wrongs; wipe the slate clean every day. Love and war, dear friends, this is love and war. You are not playing house. Generosity of spirit will help you both so much. Then, when there are bigger battles to face, you will not have worn thin your love for one another." {emphasis mine}
So much truth within these pages, so much that I have taken and hope to apply.

And then the last chapter.

The last chapter brings it all home. It answers the question I've often asked -- "WHY would God put two completely different people together and ask them to love each other?" Couldn't there be an easier way to live?

Of course He had a reason.

We are here to love. 

We are here, on this planet, to learn how to love.

And marriage is the perfect teacher. Marriage reveals selfishness. Marriage opens old wounds that threaten us. Marriage makes us vulnerable. Marriage humbles us.

It's not easy. Sometimes I really wish there was an easier way. But it makes sense -- God would give us somebody to challenge us, to refine us. God would ask us to do hard things, to make us stronger. God would make sure there are innumerable blessings buried in the expensive field.

"Yes, loving costs everything. Look at the cross. But loving is always worth it."

*Now I feel like giving Wild at Heart and Captivating a second chance. Maybe I was too young to get the full benefit at the first reading. 

Find Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge on

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. 
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