If you want to help marriages, you need to have a good handle on the resources available. I have already talked about “live help” so that leaves books and web sites. This week, books.
Know What They Say
There are now a large number of Christian books about marriage, and a growing number about sexuality. Some of the books are excellent, many are okay, many are a waste of money, and some are just plain dangerous! Even with books that are generally good, most will be no help to some, and potentially harmful to a few. This is why you have to know the books, know what they say in detail. That means read them more than once, read them as a couple, do a small group study, and mark them up!
There are some great secular books out there, and I have no problem sharing those when they will be a help. The potential problem is what kind of non-Christian worldview they voice. I do not see using the term “significant other” as a problem, but advocating the use of porn is another matter.
In part, this is about knowing the maturity and spiritual strength of the couple receiving the book. Can they ignore the few bits of junk and benefit from the good stuff? Realise that hurting, desperate people are more likely to latch onto things they would normally reject. If you share a book with a problem or two (which will include some Christian books), I suggest you tell the recipient what concerns you in the book so they are ready for it.
Loaning Books vs. Giving Books
DO NOT give someone a book unless you are willing never to see it again. Aside from not getting it back, loaning a book means the person may feel under pressure to get it back and will skim it or not read it. Additionally they cannot mark the book up, and a good marriage book begs to be marked up!
I think books given are more likely to be read, and they will be read when the person really needs them rather than to meet a supposed deadline. Gift books come with an unspoken obligation to be read, and if they need the book, I am fine with that pressure to get them reading. Lori and I have given away many books over the years. Marriage books are now our preferred wedding gift. (When you blog about marriage you can get away with that!)
The “Just What My Spouse Needs to Hear” Danger
Ever read a book and seen all the ways your spouse needs to change? Brad and Kate over at One Flesh Marriage have great articles about this – see Tear the Book In Half and Marriage Ammunition. A good way to fight this is to tell the person reading the book what you think they will get out of it. Better yet, talk about how the book opened your eyes to your mistakes, or changes you made because of the book and how those changes were a good thing for your marriage.
Building a list of books you will recommend will take time and work. I have been adding a book each month to my Must Read Marriage Book list. I expect to get that list to about 20 books in time, but I am only picking the best of the best while trying to avoid a lot of overlap. So, while this is a good starting place, there are plenty of other good books. Amazon has good reviews, especially if you dig deep, and many books let you read parts directly from the Amazon site. Your local library is a great way to give a book a first read; buy it and read again if you find it worthwhile.
Getting the Books
I’m not going to complain if you go buy a dozen books from my affiliate links (either of the links in the section above), but I am all for saving money whenever possible. Look for marriage books at garage sales or used bookstores; for you or to give away. Buy used books on Amazon - you will find links for used books on almost every book page.
Lori and I are big fans of Kindle. You do not have to buy a Kindle; you can get their free program for Mac or PC, or a free app for just about any smart phone. Most newer books are available on Kindle, and the price is (usually) lower. Kindle lets you do a search, which is nice, and has highlight and note features. You can even loan out a Kindle book to another person – your spouse or a friend. When you loan it comes back to you automatically in 14 days.
Using the Books with Others
Reading a book with one other person is a great way to go. Agree to read a chapter a week, or two chapters or half a chapter deepening on chapter size. Then get together and discuss what you have read. This makes the book far more powerful, and it helps you build a relationship and open a way for more personal ministry. You can also do a book as a group. I have done books this way with several other men, and I have done it with up to half a dozen couples. It is amazing what can come from such groups.
Great tweet of the week:
80% truth will never produce 100% intimacy @edlitton
Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:
Black and Married with Kids
Why He Should Stop Grabbing His Wife’s Booty…or Should He? ◄ To grab or not to grab, THAT is the question
The Generous Wife
The Next Chapter ◄ Are you so busy looking ahead you are missing what you have now?
One Flesh Marriage
Tune in and Turn (her) On! ◄ Be aware so you can compliment.
Praise Her ◄ Read why and how to do it.
Is Your Spouse About to Walk Out? ◄ Why the one who leaves is not always the one who is most wrong.
The Romantic Vineyard