Lonely Husbands, Lonely Wives: Rekindling Intimacy In Every Marriage, by Dennis Rainey
This particular book talks about rekindling intimacy in every marriage in its subtitle, but it should come as little surprise that this book, like most of the books I read on the subject of intimacy and marriage, is geared mainly to Christians . This book is best read by a couple, as this is a book geared towards practice and not theory, and as it is a book whose biblical standards of sexuality do not preclude an earthiness that some prim and prudish readers are likely to view as oversharing. Not only is the subject matter best suited to couples, but the book is itself written as a team effort, with the author’s wife Barbara penning a couple of the chapters from a woman’s perspective. In many ways, although this book is written mostly from the point of view of the husband, the author writes in such a way that the material here is likely to be far more obvious to women than to men. I do not know how the author’s marriage fared after this book was published in 1989, but the author does show some immense sensitivity to women while also reminding his readers of the biblical demands for marriage conducted according to God’s laws.
This book presents a rigorous but practical guide to helping couples overcome isolation and build intimacy, the two being viewed by the author as opposite states. Through six parts and twenty-four chapters and almost 300 pages of material the author builds a practical case for spouses to overcome selfishness and commit to a biblical plan for marriage that includes love, respect, mutual concern, communication, service, and gracious forgiveness. The author begins by discussing the threat of isolation as the natural entropic state to which any marriage will end up unless work is taken to counteract it. In the second part of the book the author discusses the seven threats to intimacy in our culture and in our native selfishness, including affairs physical and emotional and our tendency for overcommitment. The third part of the book introduces God’s purposes and plans and the power of oneness. After this the author (and his wife) talk about the importance of building a solid team through servant leadership, a commitment to live, and in parents being good mothers and fathers who look out for the well-being of their children. The fifth part of the book discusses building oneness through communication and returning blessings when one receives insults, and discusses the fact that being a good lover often means being present and listening and interested. The final two chapters of the book present the challenge that the families of the readers of the book can make the difference in the larger culture and a plug for the author’s FamilyBuilder series.
Although this book is nearly thirty years old, it offers a challenge that remains powerful to the currents of isolation and selfishness in our age that threaten the well-being of marriages. The author makes no apologies for a strong but kind biblical approach, and has no apologies to make. None of the advice in this book is particularly difficult to understand, but application is vastly more difficult than knowledge. Presumably, someone reading this book by choice would want more intimacy in their lives with their spouse, and would therefore be struck by the obviousness of the advice here to build trust through being gentle and understanding, to communicate more transparently and more often, and to think of others and not of oneself alone. In showing a vision of a godly marriage and being honest about the consistent work it takes, this book is a good one. Nothing it offers to the readers is beyond the capacity of anyone who is committed to being loving and understanding, but that commitment is far harder than any sort of marriage advice is likely to be.
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