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FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE: A GOOD READ AND A GOOD HEED

June 27, 2018

 

By James Wilson

 

The idea that most or all of what we consider the main causes of divorce – adultery, money issues, poor communication, too entangled with families of origin – are symptoms rather than causes is just one of the many refreshing and hope filled gifts Ed and Janice Hird offer in their latest book, For Better or Worse: Discovering the Keys to a Lasting Relationship.  This book is written with crispness and incision – it cuts to the chase in plain English. They are not shy about baring their own work-in-progress status, which makes for an attractively candid book.  But the real prize is freedom.  The freedom to be authentically married is a pearl of great price.

 

  1. S. Lewis said, “It is what we do with our solitude that makes us fit for company.” The recurrent thesis of the book is that only when we become fully ourselves are we able to give authentically ourselves. This is not about the bankrupt notion we have to make ourselves happy before we can make another happy.  It is about accepting the unique personality with which everyone is gifted, choosing not to blame others for challenges to personhood, and facing the anxiety that accompanies growing into it.

 

According to Ed and Janice whether we grew up happy or miserable – and for whatever reasons – we have adjustable levels of anxiety that can lead us to emotional and spiritual cutoff.  The more we avoid the anxiety the more inaccessible we become to those with whom we are called to share intimacy.  Conversely, the more we embrace the personhood God has prepared for us the more able we become to engage the radical sharing that is marriage.  In other words, the more developed we are as persons, the better our hope for sustaining marriage.  Conversely, the less willing we are to step up to the personality plate the higher our risk for just another dysfunctional relationship.

 

This is a thoroughly faith-based book and the Hirds recommend forgiveness for those who have hurt or betrayed us, repentance for our own role in those events, and – where help is needed – engagement with someone who is both neutral and caring.  They do not look through rose colored glasses; they stress that the work envisioned requires years and perhaps a lifetime.  Yet they also stress that it is the literal process of becoming human we undertake.  They adamantly declare it is not about repair but resurrection.

 

They cite studies under the US Centers for Disease Control that married couples across the board exhibit better physical and mental health than the unmarried.  They are less likely to smoke or drink heavily.  They score higher on every index of happiness.  Of course they do not contend any marriage is better than no marriage, yet they do believe in the power of personality healing when one re-focuses attention away from wounds and back onto the Healer of all wounds.  The Hirds call this re-focus repentance and consider it a privilege rather than a punishment.

 

They advocate what they call differentiation as antidote to emotional cutoff on the one hand and fusion on the other; the stronger we are as selves the better able to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” as the New Testament commends.  Being comfortable in our own skin makes it easier to draw closer to the other without increasing anxiety to crippling levels.  Conversely, that strength in self brings the freedom to say “No,” and that freedom grants freedom to say yes to radical relation.

 

Their best stuff comes in the chapter on marriage as covenant.  Covenant is Biblically understood as a shaped and utterly committed relationship to which each brings and retains his/her unique personality.  They say surrender is not capitulation but the power of life itself.  They wonder aloud what would happen if men understood biblical headship the way Jesus understood leadership in Mark 10:45 – servanthood as humble as the footwashing slave.  They call covenant the ultimate humanity – kind of like sperm joined to egg equals human baby – and declare it – similar to repentance – privilege rather than bondage, liberator rather than lugnut.

 

Some may think the book’s emphasis on covenant renders it archaic, outmoded, and too traditional to be relevant.  Truth is we have tried non-traditional approaches to relationship for several decades.  How is that working out for us?  Reality is the capacity for covenant defines human being as opposed to animal existence.  This book is a gem.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and anybody wanting to give it a shot will find it available on Amazon.

 

Well done, Janice and Ed.

 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at praynorthstate@gmail.com

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One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Edhird's Blog and commented:
    A great book review by Rev. Jim Wilson

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