The Peaceful Wife: Living In Submission To Christ As Lord, by April Cassidy
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest book review.]
There are some matters that women can talk to about women and it comes off far better than when it comes the topic of a sermon by a man being preached at women. Such is the case with this particular book, which is written by a driven woman, probably somewhere between thirty and forty, who works part time and raises her kids while supporting a much more low-key husband whom the author confesses to have considered passive. At its core, this is a countercultural book that seeks to weave the narrow path between two extremes, making it clear that for a healthy marriage the respect of a wife for her husband is essential, even when husbands are not always able to articulate how much the contempt of their wives hurts them both inside as well as in their reputation among peers, but at the same time repeatedly making it clear that an abusive spouse with serious habitual sin, including abuse and adultery, is not to be tolerated. This book is written for the woman who has unfulfilled expectations of a decent man and whose nagging and carping ruin good communication and lead to emotional estrangement and cycles of silence and rhetorical violence . The author is a blogger from South Carolina who was inspired to adopt a biblical attitude of wifely respect and submission to her husband after reading Love & Respect , a change in attitude that turned her marriage around and made it much warmer, and the book contains some of the testimonials of those who read the book while it was in blog form on her website. Although the author solicits comments from her husband and other male readers, of whom she probably does not expect very many for this book, this is a book written largely “for women only,” or at least for women mostly, and leaves discussion on how men are supposed to love women to sermonizing by other men, for the most part.
In terms of its contents, the book consists of thirteen chapters that deal with the application of the Bible’s commands for wives to respect their husbands as to the Lord. Included among the discussion of respect, the Lordship of Christ, God’s design for marriage, recognizing disrespect, acknowledging sin, learning the language and applying the concepts of respect, communicating desires respectfully, and respecting husbands during conflicts, the author, and more rarely her husband, share personal stories about themselves and from readers, most of whose names have been removed to keep them from being recognized. The author discusses a wide variety of practical ways that capable women, the intended reading audience of this book, can learn to respect and honor their parents without being doormats. It is by no means an easy or straightforward matter to respect people when we do not believe that they deserve or have earned that respect, but at the same time marriage is the sort of covenant that makes that respect on the part of the woman part of the consideration owed. As might be expected, the author spends a lot of time talking about matters of physical and emotional intimacy and the communication that allows both parties to express their desires and show sensitivity to the other, and she uses a great deal of humor to make her points, and also to make them more palatable to a contemporary audience that may not be immediately interested in living the biblical mandate for marriage, and who may believe that God’s commands are out of date or simply passé, no longer applicable to believers.
It is clear from reading this book that Mrs. Cassidy has done a great deal of research as well as thoughtful reflection about her own attitudes and behaviors. There are no doubt many women like her who are capable and immensely talented, but whose difficulties in showing respect to husbands, sometimes because of dysfunctional family backgrounds that provided no positive model of marriage to follow, and sometimes because they view themselves as the critics and cattle prods of their husbands rather than their husbands’ partners and public relations mavens, are a major part of the contemporary divorce epidemic among Christians as well as within the larger general population as a whole. In many cases, the withholding of respect for husbands leads husbands to withhold love and intimacy because they cannot trust their wives to be sensitive and understanding to their vulnerabilities and concerns, and that sabotages everything that both husband and wife want. The author is clearly well read, and comments thoughtfully on many of the books that she read when she had her moment of epiphany about the way that her behavior for years had hurt her husband because she was entirely aware of just how disrespectful she was acting towards him. It is likely that many people have the same issues, and since what comes from a peer is far less threatening than what comes from an awkward fellow like myself, this is a book that I wholeheartedly recommend for women, especially those who are concerned about the emotional distance and immense silence and passivity of their husbands, whose silence in many cases stings from the hurts of the continual dripping of nagging and inconsiderate wives.
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