Tear the Book In Half

Brad says…

Any time you read a marriage book, go to a marriage conference, or even read a marriage blog you are walking into a mine zone. I know that sounds strange coming from a marriage blogger, but it is true. When you get advice, even great advice, you could be entering a trap.

Wouldn’t That Be Nice!

The great book, Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is an excellent example of this trap in action. This book does a great job explaining how a husband can give his wife the love she needs and how a wife can give her husband the respect he needs. This book has tons of great information! I love it. However it is so easy to get stuck in the section that is ABOUT you rather than focusing on the part that is FOR you.book ripping

It doesn’t take long to find yourself thinking, “Wouldn’t that be nice” and “if only my spouse would do that for me everything would be perfect”.

This same risk is inherent in any marriage information. We see something that we wish our spouse would apply or we hear some other husband or other wife who explains the “secret” of their success and dream about our spouse doing that same thing for us.


That’s it. The trap has been sprung. Now rather than getting anything positive out of the great information we put down the book or walk out of the conference feeling worse than when we started.

Not only is it easy to despair when looking at what you desire but don’t have, you also miss an opportunity to change yourself. When you focus only on what your spouse should do different, it is easy to ignore the very same lessons about ourselves.

Jesus warned about this lesson in Matthew 7: 3-5:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Avoid the Trap

Any time you get a marriage book or even read our blog start by simply focusing yourself on the question, “What can I get out of this?” and “What does God want to teach me about myself?” Try to focus on only what you need to do to grow. If you start feeling the trap, stop, pray and ask God to help you see your own weaknesses and areas where you can grow.

What other books do you feel need to be “torn in half”?

Have you had to escape this trap in the past? Let us know in the comments

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25 Responses to Tear the Book In Half

  1. So true! I find, before I read a marriage book, I have to pray that God will open my eyes to what I can do, not what I want done. It’s a struggle!

  2. Another way that I like to look at the parts that are about me is to recognize what my husband is doing RIGHT. It always makes me appreciate him more when I read about things husband can/should do and I look and can “yes! he does this for me! It does make me feel good, this does strengthen our relationship, I do really appreciate the effort he takes to do this.”

    • AJ,
      That’s great! Yes lifting him up in the positive will work much better then the negative! Its amazing how good it feels to be encouraged! Keep going!

  3. Excellent idea AJ! I agree w/ all… at one point the Holy Spirit spoke to me so directly to just put the books away for a while! I gathered every one except the Love Dare, which I was in the middle of my 3rd time through…. [true confession? I STILL haven’t made it clear through to the end; keep stalling out BUT I’m not giving up!)
    And yes, He has allowed me to start reading again, but for me it came in the form of “under supervision” of my life coach, which my hubby-who-had-always-resisted-counselling suggested! and sure enough, in the very first session she prescribed 2 marriage books! Lol God is just FUN;] And whether it’s a life coach or a best friend or (this is my hope) even being accountable to our own spouse, YES we must keep our eye on the ball of “God, what are You asking of ME?”

    • One of the best questions you can ask Valorie! Keep the focus on you growing and change can actually happen!

  4. Great post, thanks. The first book that came to my mind is “The Five Love Languages”. This is an enlightening book about loving others in the way that really reaches their heart best (or I would say, most easily). And it can be helpful to identify our own preference on how we like to receive love. However, it is quite a trap if we EXPECT to receive love in this way. I know from experience, that we are capable of having our love tank filled and needs completely met by first, looking to God for all our needs, and also by letting go of our expectations and being thankful for each loving act or word from our spouse, regardless of whether it is “our language”.

    • Linda,
      I LOVE the 5 Love Languages, it is so great, but the same trap is possible. If you find yourself telling your spouse “why aren’t you filling my love tank” you have the wrong focus! Thanks for your comment!

  5. I agree except I can honestly say that there has been one good book on marriage that does not deserve to be torn in half because it is truly Biblical and focuses on changing yourself and not your husband. It’s called, “Created to be His Helpmeet,” by Debi Pearl.

  6. You nailed it. It’s also important to remember that as a marriage bloggers we are often writing and sharing things we ourselves need reminded of or struggle with. There is no need to assume the author has everything perfectly together. Thanks for sharing!


    • AMEN! I said the same thing in my “Confessions of a Marriage Blogging Husband” post last week. Many of the things I share are lessons I’m working on currently, or by the grace of God, learned in the past! Thanks for your comment Megan!

  7. It is so easy to use new learning as a way to manipulate our spouses. Great, great reminder in your post.

    • Scott,
      Well said! Not only do we walk away from those conferences, books and blogs feeling down, we have gained new “ammunition” to use against our spouse the next time we don’t feel they are measuring up! Stay focused on changing yourself and amazing things can happen!
      Thanks for your comment Scott!

  8. Aside from the definite trap of wanting change to happen in the wrong place (them), I actually like reading the “man’s side” of a book because sometimes it actually gives me insight in to myself that I hadn’t even really considered fully. And then if its something that I think would help my husband relate better to me, I might share it as a trait of mine/women’s. Like in “for men only” it describes women’s thoughts as being like open windows on a computer and how that affects so many things. Whereas guys can process one thought at a time we have do many going at once. That was kind if an ah ha moment for me. :). So they do have their pros and cons!

    • Merrie,
      I totally agree, understanding our spouse is key. Getting things from their perspective and finding out that they aren’t crazy is a huge help in marriage. That is actually at the root of why Kate and I write in the “write and respond” style that we do. Understanding can easily drift into desiring and that is the danger! Thanks for your comment!

  9. Yes! It’s all too easy to fall into this trap, and I’ve done it many times before. Ultimately, I’m the only one i can change.

  10. I so agree with this message. It is very easy for us to fall in such trap. For years, I have longed for my husband to be this perfect creature and to do everything right. I would pick up books and solely focus on him and not myself. Recently, the Lord opened my eyes to all my flaws and imperfections. This experience have definitely changed my concept of always looking to my husband as the bad guy. I began to focus on me and how I can be a better person and wife. I began to look at books that promote healthy marriages differently as well. I read with the intent to pull the plank from my eye and become a better wife and help mate. My sole purpose nowadays is to better me and grow in God’s wisdom. As I grow in God’s wisdom on how to build up my home then God will work on my husband through his infinite wisdom.

    • God is so good Lyzette! Thank you for sharing what God is teaching you and how that is growing your relationship with Him as well as your hubby! Blessings to you and your hubby, Kate

  11. Hi, I was just wondering which ‘marriage books’ would you suggest be safe to read? What did you Expect? WHen Sinners Say I Do? This Momentary Marriage? Sacred Marriage? Reforming Marriage? For a Glory and a Covering: A Practical Theology of Marriage?

    Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks!

    • Lizel,
      Thank you for asking. I really didn’t mean this post to say “don’t read marriage books”. Honestly I think those books CAN be great for you and your marriage. However, what you need to be careful with is your intent in reading them. Are you seeking out how YOU can grow and change, or are you being reinforced that your spouse needs to change? It is very easy to read any marriage book and see ways that things would be better, “if only they would apply…” That is the danger. As long as you continually seek ways that you can focus on you, and God can use the information to grow and change you, any of those resources could be good.

      God Bless!