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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Book - Strangling Your Husband is NOT an Option: A Practical Guide to Dramatically Improving Your Marriage

This was recommended to me by a friend. Here is the introduction to the book.

Strangling Your Husband is NOT an Option: A Practical Guide to Dramatically Improving Your Marriage
by Merrilee Browne Boyack
May 30, 2006

I have a very small confession to make: I am not quite the perfect wife yet. Almost, but not quite. And I figure after a few hundred more years, I will definitely be there. Until that point, I am a work in progress just like you. But after a quarter century of marriage (Holy Toledo! That sounds interminably long!), I have learned a few things about being a wife. Most I've learned the hard way.

There are so many things that I wish I had known when I was a new young wife. But I am grateful that I have learned so much in the first twenty-six years, and I feel a desire to share it with others who desire to improve their own marriages. I'm sure there is a ton more to learn in the decades to come, and I'm excited by those prospects.

Now I know that you're still chuckling over the title of this book. I must admit I was very surprised when it was suggested by my publisher. He commented, "But Merrilee, it fits your personality!" I assured him that while I agree that it did mirror my own warped sense of humor, I wasn't so sure it should be put on the cover! My mother-in-law was concerned that it reflected poorly on her son, but I assured her that it did not reference my dear husband specifically. I assured her that many (dare I say most?) wives are sometimes exasperated with their dear husbands.

So let us keep in mind that we shall not be recommending strangling as a good option for improving our marriages! (Much to the relief of our hubbies, I am sure.)

As I contemplated this subject of being a wife, I realized that there are many types of wives out there. Some are good; some are great; some are lousy. Some wives are gifted communicators. Others are amazing nurturers. All in all, however, I realized early on that I would not be like any other wife. I may not be great, good, perfect, or anything like anyone else. But the one thing I could do was to be smart. I could learn what works well and try to apply it to my own marriage. I could also learn what was not effective and try to eliminate it. Each of us can strive, within our own unique situations and with our own unique abilities, to be a smart wife.

Have you noticed that there aren't too many classes and very few books on being a wife? That's because no guy on the planet would stand up and tell a group of women how to do it. And frankly, very few women have the guts to do it either. But I'm very much in touch with my faults, so I'm okay with talking about it while realizing that I'm still working on it.

I truly owe a debt of gratitude to those who have helped me learn how to be a better wife, particularly my older sister. So just for purposes of this book, I'll be your older sister--but a very young-looking older sister!

Now think about being a wife. A wife is not her husband's mother (although some act that way); she's not his daughter; she's not always even his best friend. She's his wife. What does that mean?

At Sunday School a teacher explained how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill and said, "Johnny, what is the matter?" Little Johnny responded, "I have a pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife."

That may be how some husbands view us--as a pain in the side. But hopefully we (and they) have a better view of who we are.

But how do you learn how to be a wife? How do you incorporate that new role into your life? That's not particularly easy to do. And most women are reluctant--because of fear or embarrassment--to discuss how they're developing as a wife.

Can you just envision being out to lunch with your female friends and having this conversation? "So, how are you doing as a wife?" "Oh, well, I'm doing a great job on the supporting aspect but I'm lousy at that whole communications thing." Right. Like that would ever happen. Most of our interactions with other women center around homemaking, children, work, and other safe topics. Any discussion about our marriages tends to focus on the collective husband-bashing that has practically become the sport of choice for groups of women across the nation.

Part of this stems from the difficulty many women have in admitting imperfection. Some women would rather have their tongue cut out than admit that they need help learning how to be a better wife or that they are making mistakes. Such an admission would damage the fa├žade many of us spend so much time carefully constructing. I believe that this does more damage than good. We go around feeling depressed because all we see is the plastic image others hold up for the world. And we know that we fall far short of their image and our pretend image as well. No wonder we're depressed!

Yet it should surprise no one to learn that their friends are having a hard time getting their husbands to talk to them or help around the house. They're frustrated with themselves, and they're frustrated with the struggle of handling a marriage, just like you. We just need to be more open in admitting that struggle and asking for help.

But asking for help with being a wife is tricky business. We may want to ask for input, but we also want to protect the privacy and sanctity of our marriages. That makes for a challenging situation.

We need to move forward anyway. I'm going to take a deep breath and talk to you about what it means to be a wife. I'll be very real and very honest, which is making my husband nervous. It takes a brave husband to support his wife in writing a book like this, and I appreciate his courage. He will be reading (and editing) the book first to protect his reputation. But I truly appreciate his willingness to share. I will not be glossing over the ups and downs that we all experience. You'll also hear stories from women I've met, with guts, feathers, and all. That is why I will be changing virtually every name in this book to protect their privacy as well.

My sister once asked me a question that she asks in her Marriage and Family Relations class: "If you were dead and your husband was looking for another wife, would he pick you?"

Now that's a rather tough question to consider. I had to look at my slightly expanded waistline, expanded thighs, drooping posterior region, and all the ravages of gravity and gray hairs and wonder, Would he? But now think about the person you've become--the things you've learned, the strength you've gained--and look at that question again. Would he? If there are things we need to fix, then let's get on it. If there are areas where we would like to improve, then let's be open enough to learn about them and then try to take some steps to make those changes.
Learning and growing is an exciting prospect. Changing how we act and who we are as wives is a thrilling adventure.

But before we begin, we must take the Dump the Guilt Pledge. This is always crucial to taking these first steps. So raise your right hand. . . . I'm waiting. Put it up there. Okay, now repeat after me: "I pledge . . . " Wait a minute. Let's do this better. "I, the fabulous, wonderful, charming, and brilliant person that I am [feel free to embellish at will], do hereby pledge that I will not focus on any mistakes that I have made in the past. I pledge that I will not go around feeling all mopey and depressed and think, `Gee, why didn't I do this sooner?' or any other stupid notions. I pledge that I will face forward and just try to focus on improving from this day forward and that I will dump any and all guilt I've been dragging around in the past."

There, now, don't you feel better? Now we can begin.

Listen to the Spirit As we proceed, I would like to emphasize one critical principle that needs to be woven through every bit of advice and suggestions and ideas that I give you in this book. The Lord will help you know what to focus on in your marriage. He will help you know what to apply and what to set aside. Listen to the Spirit. Listen keenly and intently. Ponder everything you learn and what you're prompted to do. God knows you better than you know yourself. He loves you dearly, and He loves your husband. He knows what both of you need to return to Him and to reach your divine potential.

Rather than be overwhelmed with all the things you think you should do or change, ponder and listen to the Spirit. It will tell you what you need to work on first. It will help you understand those things that apply just to you and just to your husband and how to use them to bless your marriage. Don't just say, "Well, the book said I should do this first." Instead, listen to the promptings of the Spirit and meditate on them. You will be guided to act on the things that you need to apply.

How to improve as a wife may not be something we usually ponder or pray about. This whole book is geared to helping you do just that. It is designed to help you carefully and clearly look at one of your most important roles. As you make your performance as a wife a matter of prayer, you will receive answers and direction. I think that often the Lord is just waiting for us to ask. So as important as I believe these concepts are, I believe that it is even more important to trigger those questions for you to ask the Lord. If I've done that, then all is well.

I know that there are some reading this book who are in very desperate circumstances, perhaps even abusive relationships, and may even be contemplating divorce. I hope and pray that some of the things we talk about will help you. If you need professional counseling, by all means get it! Even if your husband won't go. If you need that help, be brave enough to go get it.

Do know this: My prayers and love--and I trust those of many women reading this book--are with you. We know you're hurting. We pray the Lord will help you through this difficult time. Marriage is challenging, and there is much evil in the world. Have the courage--and the backbone--to protect yourself and your children.

But all of us can take steps to improve as a wife. The first one is to have confidence in this role. Just by your making the effort to learn more, you've already begun. So let's get started and work on this together.

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