Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Training or Trying?

A friend of mine wanted a book that would help her with some challenges that she faces in her marriage. So I asked Counselor Extraordinaire Jayne Clark (on staff with CCEF for 17 years) for a recommendation, and she suggested: How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong, by Leslie Vernick.

I bought two copies - one for my friend and one for me. I wanted to read the book first, so if she had any questions I would know what the heck she was talking about. In addition, I wanted to make sure I could give it the Lynnekeeping Seal of Approval. My biggest beef with the book is the title - yikes! How can my friend take it home? How would you feel if your beloved walked in the door with "How To Do Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong?" Talk about a firestarter!

"What are you reading?"
"Nothing."

It's a very helpful book, designed to help the hurting spouse. It is not a fast-paced twelve step book to success - just the opposite. As a wise counselor once told me, "The goal of biblical counseling is Christ-likeness." The author says:
"Learning to respond rightly when we are wronged and wounded takes maturity and wisdom - and hard work. God is interested in developing the character of Christ within us. Merely learning some tricks or techniques will not be enough to deal with the heart issues that rise to the surface of our lives when our spouse doesn't act in the way we desire. Although the quick fix looks appealing, many of us have already learned (often the hard way) that the path that appears easiest turns out to be the more difficult in the long run."
My only issue with the book is small - I think an example the author uses to illustrate forgiveness is confusing and needs more explanation.

Even though I don't have a spouse who does wrong (as a matter of fact, in our house it's the opposite) I've learned a great principle: Trying versus Training. Do you try to be more self-controlled, loving, forgiving, patient, etc. - or do you train for it? Ms. Vernick says that when you simply try and fail, you resign yourself to trying and failing. When she wanted to become a runner, she noted that if she tried to run a mile she would never succeed, but if she trained herself to run a mile, then she would.
"The same process that we use to train our bodies to become stronger applies to spiritual growth and maturity as well. For example, we have already learned how important it is to think about the right response when our spouse displeases us. However, we must start to train ourselves in what that right response might look like. For some of us it may mean learning to keep our mouths shut tight until we've had a chance to think and to pray about how we want to respond."
So I've given up trying - now I'm in training.

2 comments:

ukrainiac said...

Looks like another book I need to get my hands on! "When Sinners say 'I do'" is another book dealing with husband/wife relationships (as well as ANY relationship when you get to the heart of it all).

I agree that the title of the book would be very hard to have around the house when you're in the midst of it! Sounds a bit finger-pointing...if only he could be more like me...

LOVE the CCEF resources...currently reading War of Words by Paul Tripp.

Lynne said...

This book is more for people with BIG marriage problems - serious sin that one partner will not address.

For you guys, have you read "Each for the Other: Marriage as it's Meant to Be" by Bryan and Kathy Chapell? Charlie and I read that to each other before we got married. I buy it as gifts for young couples, and couples who just want a good marriage book.

Also, Rick Phillips and his wife wrote a good one on dating - I think it's called "Holding Hands, Holding Hearts: Recovering a View of Christian Dating." For whenever you and Jim are ready to date!