Sheila Wray Gregorie ’s candor and research combined with her easy to read writing style make Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage a good addition to the stack of material on the subject. The book offers not only a collection of the author’s stories and experiences, but also a well-curated collection of stories from well-known books on marriage, friends, fellow bloggers, and conversations on her Facebook page. This factor makes the read flow more like a facilitated panel discussion than a lecture.
What sets Sheila apart from pile of marriage books I have in my collection is the overall structure of her book as well as her audience. Her audience, while not clearly defined by the title alone, is for married women. She speaks to the thoughts that women have in their marriage relationship, lies they believe, and struggles they face. The structure is set as such with each chapter focusing on one truth that often is contrary to what we believe as women, and often contrary to what culture tells us. But not only does the author pinpoint the lie we can so easily function out of, but she calls out the typical Christian pat-answer.
As an example of this, Thought #6 states: “I’m called to be a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper.” The advice that we sometimes hear is: “Fighting is poison to a marriage. Aim to live in peace instead. Avoid conflict at all costs.” She breaks down, throughout the chapter, the difference between a marriage that avoids conflict and a marriage that strives for peace through conflict. At the end of each section she provides action steps, conversation points to have together with your husband, and reflection and discussion questions at the end of the book.
“In general, [men] need two things: respect and sex … Obviously I’m overgeneralizing, but studies have shown repeatedly that it is often easier to make a woman feel loved.”
In my limited experience (I’ve only been married for a year), my husband is more complex than this simple explanation. Also, to claim that men need only these two things feels to me to be demeaning. If I was to add to the list, I would also say that men need: friendship, companionship, and alone time and space to have their own hobbies and interests. The media is quick to portray men as simple creatures, while women are the complex beings. I think this is also a dangerous lie that we need to be careful of and combat.
My other difference in thought is over the translation presented of the Greek word, “kephale.” In chapter five, Sheila writes that this word, usually translated in English as “head,” is here meant to more closely mean “source.” A new concept for me, I decided to look more into it which led me to articles of debate over the issue. While I don’t disagree entirely with the implications she presents in the book, I’m wary of the other implications the translation difference can make. Here are a few of the resources I found as I read more into the topic:
- The Meaning Of Kephale (“Head”) (Wayne Grudem)
- BibleHub.com’s Strongs Concordance
- Does “Kephale” Mean Source? (Jonathan Burke)
- The Structure of Authority in Marriage (David Park, Evangelical Quarterly)
“What if peace and joy are not dependent on someone else changing, but they instead flow from God giving us the ability to choose how to think, how to feel, and how to respond?”