Why I Wrote This Book
Marriages can get stuck in survival mode.
If you have been married for more than a week, I’m certain you’re aware that your marriage is not perfect. No marriage relationship is. And regardless of how wonderful or terrible your marriage may seem right now, I’m also certain that you are aware of ways it could be better, healthier, stronger, and more loving. We all desire to see positive changes in our relationships. We all want to be built up, encouraged, and empowered to live life to the fullest.
I Wrote This Book:
1. To Help Marriages Thrive Rather Than Survive
Unfortunately, so many marriage relationships limp along at less than life-giving; worse yet are the relationships that actively drain the life out of one or both partners. You may know someone in a hurting marriage; you may even be that person. And maybe, fearful of what others will think of your imperfect life, you’re hiding that pain from your family and friends. You think to yourself, “Suck it up,” or “Hang in there until the kids are grown,” or “Nobody’s marriage is perfect; this is just the way life is.” You think, if you try harder, you can just make it work.
Being connected to Jesus gives fresh life to marriage. He is the Life-Giver. The life-giving joy, power, and purpose for marriage flow from the One who created us to be in relationship with each other. Apart from Him, we can’t do anything. Embracing the creative power of God can turn a mediocre (or miserable) place in your marriage into a masterpiece of His design.
2. To Help Couples Learn a New Way to Communicate
For more than thirty-five years, Dr. John Gottman and his team have studied marriages. As a research scientist, he uses rig- orous methods and standards respected by medical science. The data he’s gathered gives a scientific glimpse into the anatomy of a marriage.
In the family research laboratory, aka “the love lab,” Gottman’s team uses instruments to measure the heart rates of couples during conflict-filled conversation. They record the dis- cussion and analyze the facial responses. During a ten-year study, with a ninety-one percent accuracy rate, they were able to predict which couples would divorce.
The couples whose marriages were not doing well often began disagreements with a harsh tone. Soon, the scientists watch- ing would observe what Dr. John Gottman labeled as “The Four Horsemen.” These four negative styles of behavior are lethal to a marriage and could lead to a chaotic end. Here is the list:2
Horseman 1: Criticism. Criticism is more than a complaint. Criticism attacks character and blames the other person, “What is wrong with you?”
Horseman 2: Contempt. Sarcasm and cynicism are common types of contempt. This disgusted attitude sometimes includes name-calling, mockery, sneering, or making jokes at the other’s expense.
Horseman 3: Defensiveness. Defensiveness denies responsibility and focuses all the blame on one’s partner. “I’m not the problem; you are!”
Horseman 4: Stonewalling. This is the last horseman to arrive, but the first one to parade off in silence. Stonewalling occurs when one partner shuts down or tunes out the discussion. They ignore the spouse with a coldness that is felt by everyone involved.
You may be thinking right now, “What should we do? The four horsemen not only know our names, but they regularly visit at our address.” If you are experiencing criticism, contempt, defensive- ness, or stonewalling in your marriage, you may be desperate for something to change.
[Tweet “Learning a new way to communicate is like learning a new dance” #MarriageRocks]
A new beginning can occur right now, if you make a choice to change your behavior. If you have been stepping on one anoth- er’s toes in this disappointing dance, shake up the steps. Decide today to relate to your spouse differently. You won’t be able to control your spouse’s words, tone, or behavior, but if you change your dance steps, you will change the dance.
3. To Heal Broken places in marriages
God’s plan and purpose for your marriage is that you overcome all adversity through His strength. As your heart finds safety in Jesus, He will teach you how to bring safety into your marriage. The Holy Spirit is your comforter and your guide.
In a marriage covenant, you are promising before God and witnesses that you are going to be faithful and true to your spouse, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually. Keeping your relationship strong in all three of these areas creates a wholehearted connection that helps divorce-proof your marriage. In contrast, a marriage without the safety of a wholehearted connection will fail unless the bond of intimacy is restored.
Remember, if you are brokenhearted, God is able to mend your broken heart. If you feel half-hearted because of stress, hurt feelings, or broken promises, God is able to light a fresh fire of intimacy and make your relationship whole.
If you or your spouse has spoken heartless words or done heartless things to each other, know that God still works miracles in the lives of couples who trust Him to restore their marriages.
You can’t control what your spouse does; you can only control how you react. You can control your own choices, so choose to walk with a faith-filled perspective towards your marriage.
God is at work in your heart and in your marriage. If you have been going your separate ways, turn around, and get reconnected. If your marriage has been under attack, get help. Sometimes reinforcements are necessary for the battle to win back your relationship and rebuild a wall of safety around it. If you feel alone in your marriage, begin again to prioritize the emotional, sexual, and spiritual oneness in your relationship.
4. To Help Couples go from “Good” to “Great”
As a couple, you have the opportunity to allow the Spirit of God to make your marriage a masterpiece. I pray that your marriage will be a sign that points to the goodness of God in how He has worked miracles in your marriage.
God desires for marriage to draw us into a closer relationship with Him—unity with Him enables us to have a life-giving marriage.
Only God could think of creating a rainbow of color, caused by the refraction of the sun’s light by rain in the sky. After the global flood, God showed Noah a rainbow and told him it symbolized a promise to human kind that He would never again destroy the whole earth with a flood.
The rainbow of promise between a husband and wife is not that each of them will be perfect in their marriage relationship. On the contrary, because every marriage is made up of imperfect people, the imperfection of your marriage will be evident to you and others. Thankfully, our hope is not in our own performance.
Helping good marriages become great marriages is a lifelong passion for Wayne and I. Help us share this message with others. Here is a video that you can share with your friends.
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If you have been married for more than a week, I’m certain you’re aware that your marriage is not perfect. No marriage relationship is.
I wrote this book to help marriages thrive rather than survive. I would love to hear how this life-giving message is making a difference in your marriage.
It’s refreshing to get back to basics as I read your book these past couple weeks. I know that my marriage is constantly in a flux and flow and we both need to maintain our focus on God and on each other for our marriage to thrive. I know your book will be a blessing to many marriages, despite the stage they’re currently in.
Praise God. I love how God uses it all… He even takes our mess and makes it our message.
I loved your book, Sue, and really appreciated the chapter on endurance: “embrace the bitter sweetness of endurance” – it’ll be 19 years tomorrow that we’ve been hard at that. Love the beautiful example that you and Wayne set too! Love, Kim Stewart
Kim, congratulations on 19 years of marriage… That’s amazing. Endurance is sweet.
The explanation about the scripture “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” was eye opening to me. I’ve fought with my husband well into the night, only getting crankier and more accusatory as the night goes on. If only for the this, the book has served my family well.
Hurray! I hope everyone sleeps better in your house.
On safety from the book: “To experience intimacy in marriage, both partners need to feel safe. That means your home needs to be a place of safety, a space where you are able to relax and open your hearts to each other. An emotionally safe marriage is one that allows you the freedom to be who you really are. You can trust that your spouse will love you no matter what. You feel unconditional acceptance.”
It wasn’t until later in our marriage (we’ve been married 30 years now) that we were able to come to this place but it is the best feeling. I do feel safe and that I can be me. It has made me a happier person and I believe my husband is too. It means so much to have someone to share everything with and not feel like you are being judged. It came about because of forgiveness and acceptance which are also mentioned in the book.
It is soooo powerful to be able to just be you! I praise God with you for the breakthrough in your marriage.
In this new book by Sue Detweiler, the reader is encouraged to really look at their marriage/relationship. We all have emotions that change from situation to situation. There are ways shared in this book, that allow the reader to be a support and encouragement to their loved one. Sue says, “We all want to be built up, encouraged, and empowered to live life to the fullest.”
Take time and read this book and you will be glad you did. 🙂