Finding the Hero in Your Husband: Surrendering the Way God Intended

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9781558749306: Finding the Hero in Your Husband: Surrendering the Way God Intended
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Finding the Hero in Your Husband is an essential tool for understanding the Christian concept of submission-a frequently misunderstood and often contentious subject. Dr. Slattery combines Christian principles, her professional expertise as a psychologist, and personal experience as a wife in this indispensable book to help women improve their marriages.

When expectations of trust and intimacy go unfulfilled, a wife's anger and fear can result in unhealthy domination and control. The power of a woman's approval and perspective in a relationship cannot be underestimated; it must be directed in ways that promote intimacy instead of destroying it. Dr. Slattery advocates that the key to a successful Christian marriage is a wife's ability to encourage her husband to develop his leadership role in the marriage and her ability to avoid boredom in the bedroom. (The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men are sexually dysfunctional.)

In Finding the Hero in Your Husband, Dr. Slattery uses illustrative case studies and scriptural guidelines to answer many essential questions and explain difficult and sometimes unpopular but relevant concepts to help Christian women improve their relationships. Each chapter concludes with questions for reflection and discussion, making it ideal for both individual reading and group study.

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About the Author:

Dr. Julianna Slattery is a Christian psychologist and gifted speaker on psychological issues affecting families. She earned her Doctor of Psychology and Master of Science in Clinical Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology where she received the Outstanding Clinical Student Award. Dr. Slattery graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wheaton College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and earned a Master of Arts in Psychology from Biola University's Rosemead School of Psychology. She lives in Akron, Ohio, with her husband and two sons.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Do You Believe in Fairy Tales?

I'm so tired of trying to make this marriage work! Year after year, we have had the same old arguments. Now, we rarely even talk about our problems. It's almost as if we have settled for a cold war. No passion. No excitement. Certainly no intimacy.

I always knew marriage wouldn't be perfect, but I expected it to be more fulfilling than this. John just doesn't seem to care anymore. He gets more excited about the latest football scores than he does about our relationship. He's more upset about losing a golf game than hurting my feelings. Even when he does something nice, I can tell he does it out of duty, not love. This isn't what marriage is supposed to be. I'm not sure I ever would have married had I known this is what I would get.

Sometimes I am so angry with John. We seem just a couple steps away from happiness, but we never get there. Why can't he realize how insensitive he is to my needs? Why can't he value the marriage as much as I do? Sometimes I don't even feel like it's worth trying any more. Did I make a mistake when I married him? Is there any hope for us?

ùKara

In my counseling practice, I hear far too many wives whose feelings would be expressed by this session with Kara. Hoping to find true love, they have found true frustration. Looking for happily ever after, they have endured enough disappointment to last a lifetime. Shattered dreams and unmet needsùwhat woman can't relate to them? With all that can be said of and for marriage, it rarely lives up to the dreams of many hopeful brides.

Emily had dreamed of marriage since she was a little girl. Her parent's marriage had lasted a mere four years after Emily was born. Even as a young child, she remembered the arguments and the yelling. She could only imagine what it would be like to have a mom and dad who loved each other. Emily's hope for a loving family were soon invested in her dreams for intimacy and marriage. She wondered what kind of man she would marry and vowed that they would never be divorced.

After Emily grew up, her dreams were no less vivid. The drawers of her desk at work were stuffed with bride's magazines and romance novelsùsymbols of her longing for the perfect marriage. She hoped that everything bad about her life would disappear in the face of a wonderful marriage. The loneliness and pain would melt away when she was enveloped in the unconditional love of her "hero."

When Emily was twenty-five, her fantasy finally began to materialize. She met someone who appeared to be the man of her dreams. After a whirlwind courtship, the two were engaged with every hope of a match made in heaven. He seemed to complement her in every way, as his strengths compensated for her weaknesses. For awhile, her loneliness disappeared. Her fiancT seemed perfect, attentive to her thoughts and dreams.

The long-awaited day finally arrived. Walking down the aisle, Emily looked more beautiful than even she had imagined. Her prince was breathtaking in his tuxedo, his eyes filled with hope. In the secret recesses of her heart, she hoped that maybe she had discovered the impossibleùtrue love. Their family and friends waved good-bye as the newlyweds fled to a romantic honeymoon getaway.

As the days and weeks of their new marriage wore on, the conflicts began to emerge. Emily's new husband was not nearly as attentive to her as he had been before they married. He spent hours in the garage, rebuilding an old car. Sometimes on Friday nights he went out with the guys after work and came home after midnight. Emily felt the first shock of disappointment as the luster on her prince's armor began to tarnish. How could she be married, yet still have the same feelings of loneliness she had fought all of these years? Not wanting to make her husband angry, she swallowed her hurt and did every thing she knew to do to keep peace in the marriage.

By the time a year had passed, their marriage had become little more than a casual friendship. As Emily lay in bed one night, quietly sobbing into her pillow, she asked herself, "Did I marry the right person?" Every quality of her prince that had once reassured her now seemed to be collapsing into a heap of weaknesses. Panic seized her as she realized that her marriage was becoming just like that of her parents. Her fairy tale had evaporated.

This example highlights the contrast between the romantic expectations of too many women and the reality of marriage. A nanve young woman like Emily, determined not to make the same mistakes her parents had made but not knowing how to avoid them, would seem destined for disappointment. Her expectations for her husband were unrealistic. She did not anticipate conflict, anger and trials to be a part of her marriage. She was naturally crushed when the feelings of love began to waver.

But what about the older and more mature? Are they immune from unrealistic expectations and therefore more likely to be satisfied in marriage? Although they may be less surprised at the difficulty of marriage, older women are just as likely to be frustrated that their marriages are not more intimate.

Becky and Gene were in their mid-thirties when they got married. Because they wed later in life, they had fairly realistic expectations of what marriage would be. They had dated for over two years and had a good handle on their respective strengths and limitations. They knew that their big disagreements would always be over the issues of in-laws and money. Becky and Gene were prepared for marriage. They had every reason to be optimistic about their union and trusted God to bless their new family.

Becky came to me for counseling two years into the marriage. After only a few minutes she collapsed into tears. "I am beginning to realize that Gene is never going to change. He will always be obsessed with work and he will never understand that I need more from him! I can't imagine living our whole lives together feeling this lonely. The worst part is that he doesn't even notice anything is wrong!"

Even if, like Becky, a woman thinks she is prepared for marriage, there will almost certainly come a point where she feels cheated. Something inside of her screams, "I deserve better than this!" Every thoughtless comment, forgotten birthday or sarcastic attitude reminds her of how broken her dream of fulfilling love seems to be. She wonders, "Is it my fault? Am I trying too hard or not hard enough? Why isn't this working the way it's supposed to?"

Marriage has been described as "a romance in which the hero dies in the first chapter." Many women, like Emily and Becky, are deeply wounded to learn that their dream of "the prince" exists only in fantasy. They may look enviously at other marriages and idolize husbands who are not their own, concluding that they simply picked the wrong man. They flock to seminars and workshops that promise three-step solutions to happiness, thinking, "if only I kiss my frog, he will turn into a prince." Like Cinderella in her dirty work clothes, they hope, "Somewhere is a fairy godmother who can make me beautiful enough to be cherished." The fantasy lives onùand so does the letdown.

Overcoming the disappointment of marriage is a tremendous obstacle to building true intimacy. Often our understanding of love and marriage is unrealistic and incorrect. When we confront the real-life work of marriage, including disagreements, arguments and failures, we feel as if we have missed out on what we were promised.

Modern culture both influences our thinking and reflects our misconceptions about marriage. Think about much of the entertainment marketed for women, both young and old. Movies, television programs, cartoons and romance novels consistently tell a story of a woman searching for love. Finally, she finds "Mr. Right." The stories almost always end when the man and women proclaim their love, with a wedding or at least a kiss to solidify their commitment. The message is clear: find the prince and you will become a princess. His love will rescue you. You will live happily ever after. No wonder girls and women alike often have an inaccurate view of both marriage and lasting love.

We recently took our two children to the magical land of Walt Disney World. At Cinderella's castle, we ate breakfast with many of the Disney characters. Cinderella and her handsome Prince Charming fluttered through the room. When they got to our table, I playfully asked them about the state of their marriage. Prince Charming looked lovingly into his bride's eyes, held her hands, and said, "We have been married for 50 years and are still madly in love." I asked, "What is your secret?" "Living in Walt Disney World!" the Prince replied. Of course! Cinderella and Prince Charming are frozen in time. They have not aged or faced the realities of life. For fifty years they have lived on their wedding day. In fact, they still wear the same clothes.

On the surface, their marriage seems perfect. The problem is that there is nothing more than the surface. Imagine that it were possible to live every day in the ecstasy of intoxicating new love. Fifty years of it. Never a fight or disagreement because there is never an issue to discuss. What a shallow existence! There has to be more to love than Cinderella's castle every day for fifty years.

Of course there is more to love. But it is never realized through escaping the reality of disappointment and conflict.

Newspaperman and novelist Edgar Watson Howe once said, "Marriage is a good deal like a circus: There is not as much in it as is represented in the advertising." Over time, most wives learn to live with their broken dreams and unfulfilled expectations. They accept that princes and princesses are fairy tales for children. "Adults live in the real world, with real relationships," they tell themselves. "Intimacy is simply unrealistic." Those who refuse to acce...

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