I picked up this book for three reasons, primarily because, as a pastor I am always trying my best to help men and women to have great marriages and great families. Secondarily, I read on the internet some pretty outstandingly crass stuff that was allegedly inside. Finally, and possibly most importantly, I read this book because I believe in marriage in general and my marriage specifically. The second most important relationship in my life is with my wife (the first is with Jesus, basketball is a close third :).
Mark Driscoll, who is always prime for internet controversy, wrote Real Marriage: The truth about sex, friendship and life together with his wife Grace. In it they are amazingly vulnerable and open about their own struggles early in marriage. They speak from their own experience and don’t pretend to have it all together. The publishing house connected with their church, Re:Lit, has also put together an entire church wide program to help churches. we are considering using them at The Grove.
To answer the criticism that the book has received from people who haven’t read it – yeah, there’s a couple sentences that could have been left out of the book. It’s like everything is going along great and then we catch a line that the editor forgot. It’s easy to see how people would be offended by these lines. For me, it wasn’t offensive. It wasn’t agreeable, but I think the book was written from the Driscolls’ perspective and experience. So, if your marriage isn’t exactly like theirs, it’s fine – they just want to help. I don’t think they expect everyone to have a marriage just like theirs, but you could – and maybe it will be great for you.
Not everything in the book is going to be helpful in every marriage. I am pretty sure Heather would punch me in the throat if I came home, opened the book and told her how it was going to be in our home. Of course, it would be a perfectly submissive punch in the throat.
It was a fast read for me, but here’s some interesting quotes to give you a feel for the book:
- p.13, “Some people will use this story against Mark and me, but we want to share it to help those of you who also are hurting and want to work through deep areas of sin in your marriage.”
- p.14, “I grew more chauvinistic… I began to distrust women in general, including Grace. This affected my tone in preaching for a season, something I will always regret.”
- p.20, “the ex-monk Martin [Luther] married the ex-nun Katherine in the backwoods of rural Germany on June 13, 1525. One of the reasons Martin gave for his marriage was to spite the devil, which is perhaps the least romantic statement ever uttered.”
- p.23, quoting Luther, “The greatest gift of grace a man can have is a pious, God-fearing, home-loving wife, whom he can trust with all his goods, body, and life itself, as well as having her as the mother of his children.”
- p.24, “The determining factor in whether wives feel satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. For men, the determining factor is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. So men and women come from the same planet after all.”
- p.25, “It is easier for a woman to think of doing life with a friend than with a dictator or unemotional ruler. The husband is still the head, but a ‘loving her as Christ loves the church’ head – a considerate friend.”
- p.40, “We truly do not know how selfish and sinful we are until we live with someone in marriage.”
- p.43, “Men are supposed to be producers, not just consumers.”
- p.44, “Men are to be creators and cultivators.”
- p.48, “Men are like trucks – they drive smoother and straighter with a load. Adolescence delays this load carrying indefinitely. Wise men know this and load themselves up early in life to get their education, careers, families, and ministries started as soon as possible because it gives them a good head start on the fools. So load yourself up. Take responsibility for yourself. Take responsibility for your wife (and children if or when you have them). take responsibility for your church. Take responsibility for your company. Take responsibility for your city. Real men don’t look for other men, organizations, and governments to carry their load. Real men carry their own load.”
- p.71, “It is important to note that the word helper does not denigrate the wife; in fact, God is also referred to as our helper.”
- p.83, quoting Raymond Ortlund Jr., ” ‘The ‘natural outcome’ of godly male headship is female fulfillment, not a denial of female rights.’ A wife flourishes with a loving husband and a husband becomes courageous with a respectful wife.”
Also, the last parts of the book have frank discussions on the sexual relationship within a marriage. It’s biblical and helpful, but not the kind of stuff I’m looking to post on my blog.
At the end of the day, if you are a human, are married, or want to someday have a good marriage, this is a helpful book. I would, like the Driscolls, highly recommend reading it with your spouse though. Don’t read it on your own and go to your spouse and be an idiot and say, ‘Mark Driscoll says you need to be this or do that’. If you do that and get punched in the throat, don’t say I didn’t warn you.