There’s no two ways around it: Marriage is tough! It requires work and sacrifice to keep it going. Even couples who are devout Christians can find themselves stumbling in their vocation as husband and wife. My marriage has had its share of ups and downs and I was incredibly grateful to have the new book, My Beloved and My Friend by Hal and Melanie Young enter my life during a low point in my own marriage.
About My Beloved and My Friend
A few years back I was blessed with the opportunity to read Raising Real Men. That title is such a godsend for those of us who are mothering boys (and especially someone like me who only had sisters and therefore wonders if her boys have serious mental issues at times.) Now, Hal and Melanie have taken the time to pen My Beloved and My Friend to address another arena that they see as needing more support ~ that of Christian marriage.
My Beloved and My Friend is subtitled “How to Be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses.” Visiting the My Beloved and My Friend website goes further to say this title may help you to make your marriage even better. So, this is NOT a book for just those of us who need a serious boost from the depths, but rather something that even someone who considers their marriage to be good that can help them make it fantastic.
Through the pages, Hal and Melanie tackle many areas of marriage such as finances, family size, proximity to our families, working arrangements, submission, disagreements, and sex. When writing on each of the topics, they are consistently tying their wisdom to tenets of the Christian faith. And, in case you missed the reference, the title is drawn straight from the Song of Solomon 5:16 which may be the most erotic part of the Bible with the verses addressing marital love.
Right now you can pre-order the title for Christmas Delivery – two months before it’s official release date of Valentine’s Day 2014 at the reduced rate of $12 including shipping. After it releases, the retail price is set at $15.
My Thoughts on My Beloved and My Friend
As I stated, I felt that my own marriage was at a low point when I was accepted onto the review team for this title. I was praying over everything, saw the call for reviewers, and felt that God was nudging me to join the group and hopefully find encouragement from a book having Christian perspective on marriage. While I will not say that reading this titles was THE thing to help us get back on track again, I can say that Hal and Melanie’s writing became a tool that allowed the Holy Spirit to reach my spirit and shine a light on truths I knew deep in my heart yet had tried to squash in an effort to protect myself from pain.
I did ask my husband to read through the title as well, but he stopped part way through. He found himself distracted by writing style as there were times when things were in first person and times when things were in third person. Personally, this was not distracting to me. Instead, once I began the title I wanted to keep reading as I could feel God speaking to me through their words.
One of the biggest reminders that came from this title as well as a few other venues (as I tend to need things in triplicate or sometimes even more than that!) was that God made me to be my husband’s wife. Not just a call to be a wife and mother to any eligible male, but that I was called to be his wife and a channel for God’s Grace so that we might grow closer to Christ through each other. However, I was allowing doubt to creep into my mind in the preceding months. Actions or lack thereof on both of our parts had me at the point of thinking maybe I’d been mistaken 18 years ago when we entered into the Sacrament of Marriage in front of friends and family.
Some of the approaches to things by the Young’s are reflective of their Protestant belief system and something that as a Catholic Christian I know would be viewed a little differently. Instead of devotions with a focus on the Bible and worship music, my ideal Catholic family devotion would include praying the Rosary and maybe learning more about a Saint who’s own struggles resonate with us. However, even though we have theological differences, I did find some areas to fit remarkably well with Catholic teaching. As I read through the chapter titled “The Physical Aspect”, I found myself agreeing with the majority of points and thinking about how much they tied to Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
Also, I found it refreshing to have someone outside of the Catholic Church question how readily some Christians have embraced all methods of contraception rather than submitting to God’s plan and trusting Him when it comes to family size. Their shining of light on how the world’s views have affected how we live , especially in the context of marriage, really hit a chord with me. I could probably write at least a few blog posts just on that particular topic tied in with other talks and resources I’ve encountered in the recent past that really tied it all together in a nice little package for me.
Something this book has done for me is rekindle a desire in my heart to be the best wife for my husband I can be, to not listen to the world (or those interjected thoughts that I have now surmised as the enemy trying to do all they can to break apart our marriage), and to make sure that God is the center of our relationship. Things are better in our house, but I know that there is still a lot of work to be done in the area of restoration. However, I am no longer sitting on a ledge contemplating the abyss and wondering if there is no hope for our marriage.
Recently, I watched the movie Hope Springs staring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. There are aspects of that movie which may not fit with some Christian viewers approval. The movie features a couple who’ve just marked 31 years of marriage entering intensive couples counseling (secular) as the wife wants a ‘real marriage’ again. They leave their intense week wondering if the marriage is really dead with no hope. I didn’t write the quote down (and wish I had!) as they are departing for home and their counselor (played by Steve Carrell) is talking. Basically, he tells them that while things might seem bad at that moment in time, that they are not a couple who should have never been married, but rather than through conscious effort they could enter into a new phase that far outshines any that came before now. And, that’s exactly what ends up happening.
For me, I have come to see the dark or low times as a period of sanctification. This sanctification is not pretty and can be painful. However, through God’s Grace we can arrive at the other side in a better place than we were. I pray that will be the case in my marriage and have hope that with less focus on the self and more on the ‘one person’ we became when we said “I do” all those years ago, Christ will strengthen our bonds to be that threefold cord spoken of in Ecclesiastes 4:12 which is not quickly broken. And, in the process we should both be able to say “My Beloved and My Friend”….
I highly recommend this title as one for every Christian couple to have in their home. Read it, discuss it, and then take those pearls of wisdom which speak to you and make your marriage even better than it was.
Don’t just take my word for it! Read more reviews of My Beloved and My Friend from the Bow of Bronze Launch Team.