Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Beloved and My Friend {Review}

It seems like all the old fairytale movies end with the line "Happily Ever After." I think all of us wish for happily ever after days for our marriages. Happily ever after often requires hard work and dedication. Hal and Melanie Young said they "want our children to know how to have a terrific, Christ-centered, best friend kind of marriage just like we had – so we began to write My Beloved and My Friend."

In My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses, the Youngs shares the secrets behind their thriving marriage, a marriage that has lasted for more than twenty-five years.

The book spoke words of encouragement and challenged me to work at being my husband’s best friend.
But why do we treat our mates differently than our friends? Probably because we let ourselves. Either we never took the time to develop a friendship with the one we would marry, or we just let ourselves drift apart. We let ourselves drift apart. We let ourselves become emotionally distant while geographically close, like co-workers or roommates. We work together or live together, but really have nothing in common. Regardless of the reason, there's no time like the present to start making your mate your best friend. (page 31)
Becoming best friends again may require work. As a couple, we should work on developing common interests, discovering new things together, and putting our marriage first. "You simply have to be aware of the balance of time spent apart from each other and the time which you share." (page 35)

Throughout the book, I was reminded that love is doing, not feeling. I can choose to see the good in my husband or I can choose to mindlessly complain about the state of our marrriage. The Youngs reminded me
If a lady believes her husband is on his way to becoming a great man, he will be. If she has confidence in him, he'll have confidence in himself. If she respects hi, he'll have self-respect. If she believes in him, he will do everything in his power to live up to her expectations. (page 93)
We live in a society that tears down men far more often than it builds them up. I owe it to my husband, and to our marriage, to look for the positives as often as possible.

In a few sections of the book, the Youngs introduced controversial topics that I did not expect to find in a book about marriage. Chapter 7 (How To Have The Right Number Of Children) begins with a discussion of allowing God to determine the size of your family and continues with advocating for natural childbearing and breastfeeding. At times while I was reading, I wondered if there was any hope for a family where I who had consented to an emergency c-section (to save Lauren’s life) and where she then received most of her nourishment through a feeding tube. A chapter later, I cringed inside when they stated, “If it is at all possible, separation of mothers and young children, really any children, should be avoided.”  (page 196) They admit “it takes creativity and compromise to pull this off,” but creativity and compromise weren’t enough to solve the problems of having a critically ill newborn in the hospital for six weeks or later a three year old in the hospital (three hours away from home) for seven months. I firmly believe that the Youngs did not mean for their writings to come across as judgmental or for me to feel like a failure because we did the best that we could under difficult circumstances. I was simply caught off-guard when reading this section of the book, and my own strong feelings on these topics distracted me from the original marriage-enhancing focus of the book.

It would be short-sighted of me to allow my own negative reactions to a few passages to unfairly color my opinion of the book as a whole.

Edited 2/10/14: I recently read the final copy of My Beloved and My Friend and have revised my initial impressions for the sections I mentioned above. Hal and Melanie Young have rewritten much of those two chapters, and the revised materials do not bother me the way the initial chapters did last fall. I was touched when they reassured me, "We have to remember that discovering a medical need does not mean that we're failures or somehow lower than our worth. We live in a  fallen world and because of that, things often just don't work right. We can't understand why God allows us to go through difficult times, but we have to trust that He knows best; that he's accomplishing some purpose for our good and for His glory, and that we'll understand some day." A few pages later, they write, "Regardless of your birth story, though, you have, with the help of the Lord, brought forth a new life." The Youngs have a tender heart for marriages, and I'm thankful that their revisions have allowed me to embrace this book more fully than I did before.

My Beloved and My Friend challenged me to be a better wife -- a wife that puts my husbands needs above my own and treats him like my best friend.

My Beloved and My Friend will be officially released early next year. You can pre-order a copy for Christmas delivery for only $12 (including shipping) by visting the My Beloved and My Friend website.

If you are interested, you can read other reviews of this book on the Bow of Bronze blog.

Bow of Bronze Launch Team Disclaimer Graphic

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