“How to Save Your Marriage Alone” by Ed Wheat M.D. (Copyright © 1983 Zondervan™, Grand Rapids, MI 49530)
Written over 30 years ago, the marriage advice contained in this gem is timeless. “How to Save Your Marriage Alone” is a 56-page, pocket-sized book with information that essentially is two chapters from its mother book, “Love Life for Every Married Couple” by the same author.
A family physician, Christian counselor and certified sex therapist, Wheat provides a Biblical perspective on applying Christ-like “agape” love to your marriage in order to win back your spouse and preserve your marriage. People may find this path difficult to live because it calls for serious self-change and long suffering. But the true Christian will recognize the Scripture lessons and the call to walk the higher path.
A more secular view might decry the self-sacrifice required in this book when one, for example, learns that his spouse has been unfaithful, but Wheat is clear: “God’s favor and blessing shine on the one who patiently suffers, if necessary, in order to do His Will.” In order to “bring a new dimension of love to your marriage,” he says plainly, “Do what the Bible says and leave the rest to God.”
But far more than Scriptural admonitions, the information explains that agape love—or Christ-like love—can transform hearts. The basic principle is that love begets love while anger only gathers more anger.
The one weakness is this little book (which maybe corrected in its larger title) is the underlying assumption that the cause for marital distress is infidelity. How do you save your marriage alone if your husband has addictions, anger, abuse or other serious emotional problems? The advice might tell us how to stay married and how to love in spite of problems, but not how to resolve the problems that brought us to this point in the first place. But in all fairness, I have not reviewed the larger book from which this nugget was taken. How much can fit into this tiny book after all?
But whether you hold Christian beliefs or not, if your goal is to save your marriage, you’d do well to heed the general counsel in this book. In fact, this information is at the crux of every successful Christian or spiritual self-help relationship program. Wheat also includes a list of suggestions from wives who have been successful in wooing back their husbands when faced with divorce. Here are a few:
*Don’t try to reform him. Just love him.
*When your husband withholds his love, trust the Lord to meet your emotional needs. He won’t let you down!
*Give your husband honor, love and biblical respect even when his actions don’t deserve it.
*Don’t expect him to change overnight when he comes back.
*Hope all things, believe all things, endure all things.
What I particularly agree with is the counsel to aim to love your spouse as is. Not because it is the right thing to do. Not because you’re supposed to love your spouse. Not even because God decrees it. But just love him. Imagine the difference it would make in your own heart if you spouse told you, “I will love you to the end because God commands it” or “I love you just the way you are. The good and the not-so-good. I love you for you.”
I learned this lesson the hard way. This book just might have saved me a lot of angst and heartache if I could have applied its principles earlier in my marriage.
“How To Save Your Marriage Alone” is not merely a hopeful bone to toss to beleaguered spouses in desperate situations, but a step-by-step map to transforming yourself into the spouse that a husband or wife would never want to leave because of the, what Wheat terms, “Ultimate love” you offer, a love to be found nowhere else except in your arms.
Hard counsel, yes. But didn’t Jesus’ own life show that it wouldn’t always be easy, but it would be worth it?