CREATING AN INTIMATE MARRIAGE: Rekindle Romance Through Affection, Warmth and Encouragement
Bethany House Publishers
Love & Marriage
Can there ever be too many marriage books? Given the state of marriage among Christians today, probably not. CREATING AN INTIMATE MARRIAGE from HomeWord radio host and popular speaker Jim Burns offers a basic guide to putting the satisfaction back into a stale relationship. “Far too many couples settle for mediocrity in their marriage when they would never settle for second-best in other areas of their life,” he writes.
Burns blends personal anecdotes, basic marriage improvement principles and questions for husbands and wives to work through to facilitate better marital satisfaction. Many of his ideas will seem familiar: Set priorities. Make your marriage second only to God. Commit to a date night (and make it something creative). Seek counseling for deeper problems that may be causing issues in your marriage (childhood sexual abuse, for example, or addiction). Practice forgiveness. Don’t expect your spouse to meet all your needs. Help your spouse feel understood. All of these are good concepts and worth hearing again, even if they’ve been said before.
Burns puts a different spin on a few of the familiar ideas, using acronyms. Create A.W.E. in your marriage (Affection, Warmth and Encouragement). “You can change the atmosphere of your marriage almost immediately,” he writes. Another acronym is D.A.I.L.Y. (Decide to follow God daily; Adore God daily; In the Word Daily, Love others daily, Yahweh reigns forever). If this resonates with you, then you’ll appreciate these easy ways to remember to integrate them into your marriage.
The author makes the important point that “most people don’t take the time to really examine their inner lives.” Too often, he shows throughout the book, we are so caught up with making the mortgage and car payments, keeping up with the kids’ activities, and over-busy at work and even at church, that we live life on cruise control, never stopping to think about where we are at or where our marriage is going. “The unexamined life lets the fast pace of our existence take over and relationships become a reaction or, worse yet, just happen.”
Burns offers some interesting ideas. In a section on sexual intimacy, he suggests scheduling sex every week. Some readers may find the idea of this rather mechanical, but he insists that when couples prioritize romance, it will happen more often and with more spontaneity than before. A question-and-answer section at the end of the book addresses some common barriers to marital intimacy and happiness.
Throughout each chapter --- as well as a section at the end of every chapter --- Burns intersperses plenty of questions for journaling and reflection that reinforce the concepts in the book. A few suggestions sound cheesy (such as when a woman hangs a banner over the dinner table telling her husband he’s a great dad, provider, etc.), but many have the potential to act as springboards to better communication between spouses. Some readers may feel that Burns lays the onus of change on wives a little too much in his examples, although it’s likely that women will be the primary buyers of the book, so perhaps that explains it.
Burns is vulnerable about his own marital failings and offers plenty of anecdotes about the hard work he and his wife Cathy have had to do to make their marriage last. This personal sharing is one of the strengths of his book. “Life, especially marriage, is messy,” writes Burns, adding later, “Every marriage takes work and focus.” CREATING AN INTIMATE MARRIAGE offers a good starting point for making changes that will deepen and enrich a tired relationship.
--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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