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Review and Reflection of A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas
I enjoy reading and I find it to be a luxury when I have extra time to pick up a book. There generally are three or four (or five) books stacked on my night stand at differing points of completion. Probably not very efficient but when I get the opportunity to read I want options!
Within the stack is often an easy-reading fiction, a fictional classic, a Christian Living book on a various topic, and a book that I believe would increase my therapy abilities and/or benefit my clients.
I picked up A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas to fit a few categories. As a Christian mental health therapist I often work with married couples and I’ve been married for ten years so win/win!
Gary Thomas has written multiple books, however Sacred Marriage has been his most popular, so I was interested in his follow-up marriage book.
A Lifelong Love is split into three parts.
Part One: The Magnificent Obsession
Gary describes a magnificent obsession as, “A marriage that grows ever deeper over time; as God shapes our hearts to desire Him, He is also, in the work, shaping our hearts to desire and enjoy each other.”
I love the interwoven nature of this definition! The more we seek God, the more we desire Him. The more we work on our marriage, the more we glorify God. The combined efforts actually help us to love our spouse more.
Gary provides multiple insights and perspectives during part one to help us increase this magnificent obsession. I will describe two but there were many others that I found beneficial.
As we are all sons and daughters to God, Gary poses that we should view God as our Father-in-Law. He gave the example of a son-in-law praising the father-in-law and giving him great respect but not properly care for the daughter, his wife. The father-in-law wouldn’t care about all of the praise, he would want the son-in-law to care for his daughter.
Another perspective shift was to view your husband as your son and you, then, as your daughter-in-law. Would you be happy with how your daughter-in-law was treating your son? What would you want her to do instead?
These are powerful exercises to pull yourself out of the situation and view your actions from a more objective stance.
Part Two: Growing Together
In part two, Gary focuses on growing together. I loved his words, “No other couple has your gifts, your weaknesses, your history, your dynamics, your children, and your calling.” He described there is freedom in accepting our couple identity.
This is so true! Often I am encouraging my clients to not compare there marriage to the other couples in their church or community. We don’t know everything that is going on in their life. We also don’t have the same set of circumstances and skill sets.
This is why there really is no “right way” to communicate and interact that works for all couples.
Gary Thomas tackles multiple issues during the section that can potentially hinder couples from growing together. He takes on sexual intimacy, the addition of a baby, power shifts, empty nest, honesty, vulnerability and more. It’s a rich section!
One aspect in this section that I particularly found beneficial was the posing of two different questions and how they have significantly different impacts on the marriage. They are “How can I bless you?” or “How can I get my needs met?”
Too often marriages in our society are focusing on the second question and completely missing out on the beauty of the first. If nothing else from this post or the entire A Lifelong Love book, please walk away with that tidbit to chew on.
Part Three: The Journey Towards Love
Gary writes, “For Christians, a weak, lukewarm love is not enough. We are to become a people who excel not just at loving but at loving deeply, from the heart. And marriage can teach us to do just that.”
This is what I want in my own marriage and I hope this is what you want in yours as well. I want to love my husband deeply everyday! And I have come to realize, as the book also echoes, this is an active choice on a daily basis!
Gary poses, “Ask yourself a question, but pause before you answer it: Why did you get married?” If we are being honest with ourselves our answer is generally all about selfishness! When I said, “Yes” to my husband it was not out of a desire to glorify God.
Part three focuses on how to shift that selfish perspective to one that alters our view of love and puts God as the focus and center. God designed marriage to be that way and the result is a more loving and intimate marriage as well.
I personally enjoyed A Lifelong Love but I am judicious with the couples I recommend this book to. I see this book to be beneficial for couples who have a relatively strong marriage foundation and an even stronger personal relationship with God.
Gary acknowledges the book is not a how-to, step-by-step manual but larger, but rather broader principles and insights to bring into your spiritual and marriage life.
I hope this post sparks a desire to seek a marriage that is about more than just staying together but developing and creating a lifelong love!
Check out my other book reviews and reflections on some of my favorite books – Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge, Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst, Curious Faith by Logan Wolfram, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
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