Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Marriage Turnaround by Mitch Temple

How Thinking Differently About Your Relationship Can Change Everything

What if you were sitting in a room with all sorts of dysfunctional couples, and you were one of them! What would it take to turn your marriage around in a short period of time? Mitch Temple says it would take a change of mind, of heart, and of practice, all of which could be done by two people willing to discard the old myths and put on the new truth.

Mitch has been a family therapist for many years, and is on staff with Focus on the Family, bringing his counseling expertise and humor to the table for you to munch on. Real-life stories and biblical solutions will have the reader uncovering a great marriage behind their long-held myths.

My Review:
Most little girls grow up believing that one day their prince will come riding up on his white horse, and they'll live happily ever after. No one ever told them that someone has to clean up after that horse! Although the "happily ever after" myth is not discussed in this book, many other myths are. The author advises, "Don't try to correct every myth, every invalid thought in one afternoon. Work on one at a time. Take baby steps toward a better marriage."

This is a lighthearted look at a serious subject by an expert in the field. In a straight-forward manner, the author points out fallacies of harmful myths and offers solutions from real life anecdotes. Some of the twelve chapters have checklists. I wish that I had the opportunity to have a tool like this fifty years ago when I first said, "I do." Even so, I see the worth in it now.

This would make a lovely shower gift for an engaged couple. It would be a good book for any married couple to study together. However, it can be helpful if read by one person who would like to improve relationships.

And now, the first chapter:

The Myths That Can

Make You Miserable

“The grass is greener on the other side . . .

until you get over there and realize it’s artificial turf.”

My favorite show on the Discovery Channel, MythBusters, exposes common myths. Each week, the hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, challenge myths by using science to show the audience what’s true . . . and what’s bunk. Sometimes they even blow things up as part of their experimentation. What more can a guy ask for?

Myths that couples believe about marriage can be much harder to recognize than those on MythBusters. I’m convinced that marriage myths—false beliefs, unexamined assumptions—can make a couple miserable and mess up any good relationship.

I can’t count the number of good-hearted, well-meaning Christian couples I’ve counseled over the years who’ve left their partner because of their belief that “I should be happy no matter what,” or “I deserve to have an affair because of the way I’ve been treated,” or the classic: “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”

Here’s a news bulletin: People on the other side, no matter how appealing they seem, are just as flawed as your spouse.

Maybe, like my wife and me, you strolled into marriage with more than a few crazy ideas about romantic love. Though Rhonda and I have enjoyed twenty-six years of matrimony, our success didn’t come without struggle. We had to face down our own marriage myths soon after we walked the aisle.

I actually thought we would have sex every day, or at least every other day. Isn’t that what every guy thinks? It took less than a week to put that particular myth to rest! One night I showered, shaved, slathered on my best cologne, and slid into bed, when I heard Rhonda practically snoring. Nothing like a little cold water to put my fire out.

Rhonda also brought her fair share of myths into marriage. She assumed, like many women, that I would always be as expressive and affectionate as I was while we were dating. Apparently, it didn’t take me very long to fall short of that mark.

Both of our expectations were based on wrong thinking that brought emotional pain and some intense arguments into our young marriage.

God’s heart breaks when He sees His children buy into myths and act on them. He grieves when He watches friends and family take sides and innocent children become emotionally wounded when they see Mommy and Daddy attack each other. God grieves when He sees the unhappiness, hopelessness, destruction, resentment, division, and financial strain that inevitably come when couples embrace marital myths.

Satan, however, is overjoyed.

The Ultimate Author of Marriage Myths

If you had enough time, a detailed atlas, and some excellent hiking boots, you could trace every mighty river in the world back to its headwaters. Every river, every stream, every brook has its source. It comes from somewhere. It might flow from a deep, spring-fed lake, from a bubbling artesian well, or from some underground river that breaks free and flows down a mountainside.

In the same way, you can follow every lie, every deception, every false teaching, every harmful myth back to its headwaters. In fact, all of these things flow from the same source—Satan himself.

Jesus made that clear when He said of the Devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Satan doesn’t just have a casual disregard for the truth, he hates it. He began twisting, bending, and warping the truth of God’s Word from the first words he uttered in the garden of Eden, speaking through a serpent.

If there is truth anywhere, Satan in his hatred will do everything within his power to distort it, dilute it, denounce it, or sprinkle it with just enough falsehood to destroy its intended meaning. Failing these tactics, he will seek to rip truthful words out of their proper context and drop them into a setting where they don’t belong at all.

Every lie that was ever told calls Satan “daddy.” Every false advertising claim, every instance of political double-speak, every used car salesman’s exaggeration, and every “little lie” we utter can ultimately be traced to the one that the Bible calls our enemy and adversary.

The Devil couldn’t care less about how you are hurting or how he hurts your children as he tears your family apart. He will not keep his hands off your home. His goal is to mislead you and stage your home for doom and destruction.

Just as much as God loves unity and teamwork in families, Satan hates it. Satan likes to see marriages struggle, suffer, and fail. He does this through the deception of myths—lies, wrong thinking, false assumptions. He is a master at using myths to convince you that something is right when it’s really wrong and that your spouse is the enemy.

When I finally understood this—that Satan has no positive concern about my family and that he is out to destroy my marriage—it transformed the way I treated Rhonda. I finally understood that I was fighting spiritual battles every day over the holy ground of marriage.

Right Thinking, Right Actions

Since you’re reading this book, it’s probably safe for me to make a few assumptions about you. Either you are about to be married, you’re newly married, or are a marriage veteran. Perhaps you feel anxious about the direction your marriage is headed. Maybe you’re considering walking out because you feel that your marriage is no longer fulfilling—or even that it’s the marriage from hell.

In all of this, perhaps you’ve lost hope.

The good news is that you can hope again. A bad marriage is not like a piece of fruit that goes bad and has to be tossed in the garbage. It’s more like a person with a serious illness who gets some timely help . . . and begins to heal and regain strength. Sick marriages can heal. I’ve seen it happen time after time.

I’ve seen old lies jerked from the soil like long-rooted weeds. I’ve seen truth take root and begin to flower. I’ve seen love return like April sunshine after a long winter. You can call it a reconciliation or a restoration or a rebuilt home.

I always call it a miracle.

My sincere prayer is that this book will cause you to take a closer look at the myths you believe—sometimes without even knowing that you believe them. Your marriage is too valuable to be driven by wrong thinking. You need the truth that will lead you to right feelings and right actions. Jesus said only the truth gives us true freedom (John 8:32). The truth will lead you to serve one another and nurture your mate’s spiritual well-being. Truth will also cause you to fulfill your lifetime commitment to God and to your mate, no matter how hard it gets.

Even seasoned couples who make marriage look effortless admit that they’ve had their fair share of distorted thoughts and feelings. When my wife reflects on our early days together, she reminds me, “Mitch, you were the most naïve man I ever met. You were really messed up, but I married you because I knew you had a good heart.”

I think her marriage to me was a kind of spiritual benevolence—a way to save me from myself. No matter what kind of benevolence I feel it was, I’m glad she became my wife. Gratefully, God has molded our relationship into one of the strongest I know.

In spite of Satan’s best attempts to destroy your marriage, my desire is to help you make it as great as God intended. I want to guide you through a minefield of myths with God’s Word as our source of truth. I want to help you turn your marriage around. Let’s get started.

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