This is the third installment of my marriage reading series. This time I read the book Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow. I didn't know what to expect as I go this on Kindle so didn't have any cues from the cover blurbs or illustrations, plus it is a bit older, but I ended up really enjoying it!
What I liked best about this book was the focus on character rather than tasks. Dillow began the book discussing the Proverbs 31 woman, but noted the importance of looking at the woman's character instead of a list of all the stuff she does. She noted the qualities of trustworthiness, industry (working hard even if you don't like the task), organization, and love. She also stressed that the relationship with God enables all of these characters. In fact, I found this book to be incredibly biblical, which was refreshing in comparison to some “Christian” authors that throw in a Bible verse or two just to support their own ideas. (Not trying to implicate any specific people here, but rather a general theme I've seen sometimes.)
Interestingly, I found that the last chapter had the deepest lessons for me. Firstly, Dillow states that to have a good marriage, I must do the following: Accept my circumstances; accept my husband for who he is; and accept myself. Soooooo many marriages fall apart because people think, “If only we had more money, things would be better” or “If my husband were X, things would be better.” We can only work on our marriage when we accept the conditions as they are. The second key point was that refusing forgiveness is a huge hindrance to growth. Guilt is a huge issue for me, and I have recently become more aware that beating myself doesn't actually help me learn, and it also puts undue strain on my relationship with Gil, because he shouldn't have to console me for every little mistake I make.
A theme running through the book was acceptance of your husband, showing you're on his team and not pressuring him to be perfect. This also leads to discussion about how a wife handles her husband's flaws. I really appreciated the call to consider my own attitude when my husband does something I don't like. Yes, it's bad for him to (FILL IN THE BLANK), but if I respond by arguing, badgering, giving him the silent treatment, or bad-mouthing him to others, I'm also sinning. Dillow comes on strong with the idea that nagging is not generally helpful. I particularly liked the quote: “God the Holy Spirit does not need a wife to be a personal Holy Spirit.” Yet, it never comes out as though wives should keep silent about flaws, but rather they need to address the issues properly. In the chapter on submission, she actually notes that not voicing an opinion is not necessarily submissive: You could be staying quite and smug, just waiting for your husband's plan to fail. So by accepting your husband as he is, you open the door to work with him on issues, instead of seeing his flaws as something that is holding you back or getting on your nerves.
I also appreciated Dillow's focus on the long-term. She stresses that women shouldn't adjust their attitude in expectation that things will immediately be fixed, that a change will be a cure-all to any problems in the relationship. She says a few times that we need to remember that suffering often produces long-term good. We can't just assume that hard times are necessarily bad and need to be 'fixed'.
One practical thing I took out of the book was the idea of writing out your priorities and fitting them into your week. I talked about this a few weeks ago (http://mrsdoctordear.blogspot.ca/2013/06/productivity-at-home.html), so I won't go into detail again. I went out and got a glass board and markers just to do this. It's helped me remember to fit my home chores into life (rather than waiting to “feel like” doing them).
|Kind of blurry, but you get the gist of it.|
Overall, I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it to others! Tune in for the next installment (late August, probably), when I'll be discussing John Piper's This Momentary Marriage.