DEFENDING TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE
It Starts with You
Willard F. Harley, Jr.
Family & Relationships/Marriage
Willard F. Harley, Jr., author of the bestselling title HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS, has compiled substantial and troubling evidence that clearly delineates how society contributes to the breakdown of the primary family unit, marriage. Harley, a clinical psychologist who has frequently been called to testify before judiciary committees on behalf of traditional marriage and family legislation, views such changes in law as key components as to how viable marriages will be in the coming years. According to the author, traditional marriage is defined as "...a permanent (as long as you both shall live) and sexually exclusive (forsaking all others) relationship of extraordinary care (love, comfort, honor, and keep, etc.) between a man (to be your husband) and a woman (to be your wife)." However, the latest wave of court decisions is eroding the very foundation of this fundamental societal relationship.
Harley says that the last 75 years have seen the denigration of marriage sneak its way into the mindset of the masses by undermining the very oath of commitment itself. He also believes that men and women must rethink the whole institution of marriage by daily, and concertedly, living out the four essential ingredients vital to a marriage that not only stands the test of time, but thrives and continues to be characterized by romantic love.
Having interviewed and counseled thousands of married couples during the course of his career, Harley believes there are four must-haves in every marriage:
*Extraordinary Care: the decision to care for one's spouse during the good and the bad times, despite waning emotions or adverse circumstances.
*Sexual Exclusivity: forsaking all others and guarding this area of the relationship so that infidelity doesn't cause a freefall to destruction and demise in the marriage.
*Permanence: creating an environment of safety and continuity for the benefit and protection of all family members.
*One Man and One Woman: the ideal environment for raising happy and successful children.
Once this defining foundation is set and clearly understood, the author spends the remainder of his text showing couples how to love one another in very practical ways. By understanding the inherent strength of intimate emotional needs, Harley empowers married men and women with the tools necessary to protect their marriage from outside attacks (affairs) or inside sabotage (apathy or contempt). Since emotional needs are so potent and so necessary for a growing marriage, Harley pooled the most cited (and desired) needs for men and women. The top needs included: admiration, affection, conversation, domestic support, family commitment, financial support, honesty and openness, physical attractiveness, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment. Men in general noted that sexual fulfillment and recreational companionship topped their list. Women needed affection and intimate conversation most. Harley wisely notes that men and women must meet the key needs of their spouse and not assume that their mate's wants mirror their own. When couples begin acting in ways that fulfill their spouse's most intimate emotional needs, safeguards are immediately erected and the marriage begins to take on new romantic life (thereby helping to ensure a lasting, viable marriage).
Harley provides numerous scenarios where men and women have neglected their partner to the eventual demise of the marriage. Yet the overall tone of this book is one of optimism and hope. The author believes that successful, happy marriages can overcome the statistical slide to divorce. Best of all, he provides readers with the resources and tools to make it happen. Every married couple would benefit from this excellent and substantial primer on making marriages all that God intended.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
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