Saturday, August 26, 2006

Priceless counsel from a bargain sale book

“How to save your marriage alone”
It must be a conspiracy of sorts.

Everywhere I go (malls, bookstores, etc) there seem to be stockpiles of books on sale. With the low prices, the good condition of the books, and a great variety to choose from, I have been enticed to buy several books since last week. I bought a hard bound edition of “Fit To Be Tied” by Bill and Lynne Hybels at only one hundred fifty pesos. This is a bargain since the locally printed paperback edition costs around one hundred eighty pesos. I also got a mint quality Debra Evans book for only two hundred pesos.

The best bargain I’ve been able to get is the paperback “How to save your marriage alone” by Dr. Ed Wheat which I bought for only NINE pesos! This book (copyright 1983 by Zondervan Books; published by Pyranee Books) actually comes from two chapters of Dr. Wheat’s classic book “Love Life For Every Married Couple” (copyright 1980 by Dr. Ed Wheat, M.D.) "Love Life" reprinted locally by Christian Literature Crusade, has sold more than 900,000 copies world wide.

(I don’t know why bookstores or mall outlets for these bargain books stock the books on marriage and relationships on the shelves reserved for “Trade Books.” Hmm, let me see – marriage is a trade? husbands and wives are traders? I’m confused …)

In a previous article, I mentioned B-E-S-T, Dr. Wheat’s acronym for a superb marriage. It stands for B- blessing; E – edification; S – sharing; and T – touching. This slimmed down edition of "Love Life" doesn’t contain Wheat’s discussion of B-E-S-T but is meant, in Wheat’s words, to help spouses whose marriages are in crisis to “clarify their thoughts, stabilize their emotions, and learn to behave in a consistent, purposeful way that will save the marriage and bring a new dimension of love into the relationship.”

Wheat quotes marriage counselor Anne Kristin Carroll as saying that ruptured relationships and torn marriages can be brought back to life and vitality even if only one spouse is committed to saving the marriage. Carroll speaks from experience – she was married at 18, divorced at 21, and by God’s grace, years later, she was reunited and remarried to her estranged husband.

Dr. Wheat enumerates the ways in preparing to make a purposeful effort in saving the marriage, to wit,

[1] Prepare for the worst, knowing you have a sufficiency of grace.

[2] Prepare to be “perfect” knowing you have a sufficiency of grace.

(a) Consistently do everything you can to please your spouse and meet his or her needs and desires.
(b) Consistently show your mate the respect and honor commanded in Scripture whether your mate personally merits it or not.
(c)Totally avoid criticism of your mate.

[3] Prepare to be rejected knowing you have a sufficiency of grace.
Dr. Wheat then cites the Old Testament story of Hosea and his adulterous wife Gomer to support his ideas that a man or a woman, ALONE, can create the conditions that will save the marriage.

(I’ve never heard a Filipino or an American pastor preach at length from the Book of Hosea. Bible scholars are divided on the issue of whether to take Hosea and Gomer’s story literally or as an allegorical story of God’s passionate and persistent love for His unfaithful people, the nation of Israel. Those who say that the Book of Hosea is allegorical and not literal say that God’s command for Hosea to marry an adulterous woman violates His holiness.

On the other hand, there are Bible scholars who say that Hosea and Gomer’s story is presented in such a simple narrative that it should be taken literally. The middle ground may be held by those scholars who say that God’s command for Hosea to marry adulterous Gomer should be taken “proleptically” that is, looking towards the future. This view, holding a literal interpretation of Hosea, says that Gomer was chaste at the beginning of the marriage but later on became immoral.)

Consistent with his concepts, Dr. Wheat says that even in cases of a spouse engaged in an adulterous affair, the innocent spouse should let the affair go on for the time being. He urges men and women “to avoid separation no matter how serious their problems are” (with the exception being cases of physical violence). Wheat says that as the innocent spouse exhibits consistent love and grace, the offending spouse will soon realize the errors, futility and consequences of the adulterous affair.

I hope that I have been able to give you a clear overview of Wheat’s concepts which he says have helped restore thousands of marriages. His concepts may help your own marriage. If you want to read more about his concepts, “Love Life” is available at Christian bookstores and at National Bookstore branches.

Dr. Wheat is just one voice in the spectrum of Christian counselors. Dr. James Dobson (“Love Must Be Tough”) and David Clarke, Ph.D (“What to do when your spouse says, I don’t love you anymore”) espouse views that are radically different from those of Wheat. The differences can readily be seen in Dobson and Clarke’s tough love, bring down the hammer approach in dealing with adulterous affairs. Compared with Dobson and Clarke’s views, Dr. Wheat’s views seem to be totally wimpy.

For example, as you have seen above, Wheat says that the innocent spouse should exhibit love and grace towards the offending spouse, and strive to meet that mate’s needs and desires (even for sexual relations). Clarke in his book won’t have any truck with this kind of advice. Clarke advocates that, in case the offending spouse comes back, there should not be any sexual relations for several months until it has been medically established that such spouse is free from any sexually transmitted disease (STD) he/she may have picked up from the adulterous partner.

Well, well, well, books on sale, saving your marriage alone and conflicting views from esteemed Christian counselors. I just found out that the 27th Manila International Book Fair will be held on August 30 to September 3, 2006 at the World Trade Center in Buendia corner D. Macapagal Blvd. in Pasay City. Hundreds of book publishers and stores, authors, printers, etc will be exhibiting their wares, with bargain books, great discounts on all items and freebies. It really must be a conspiracy!

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