The Christian Couple (by Larry and Nordis Christenson)

There are many books on our shelves that we seem to have had for decades, yet I have no idea where they came from. Having catalogued them, I’m trying to read some which I have no record of ever previously having read, and of which I have no memory at all. This one, by Larry and Nordis Christenson, is one of several books about marriage which we acquired - or were perhaps given - in the early years of our married life, so it’s possible that I did read it around thirty or more years ago.

Published in the US in 1977, ‘The Christian Couple’ is a solidly Christian approach to marriage and relationships, yet, for its era, quite refreshing in some respects. It was written with the intent of challenging the growing statistics of marriage breakdown and divorce, looking at the reasons for getting married and the importance of commitment and determination rather than relying entirely on romantic feelings for keeping a relationship going.

Inevitably there’s much that’s rather dated, and many would find the authors’ chapters on submission to be quite offensive; yet, reading them with an open mind, and remembering that the book is nearly forty years old, it’s quite enlightening. They discussion submission in general, including the important meaning of the word as relating to - for instance - submitting an essay to be marked, or an article to a magazine editor for consideration. They insist that there must be discussion both between parents and children, and between spouses, where each consider ideas that might not have occurred to them.

While they believe that the husband has, as it were, a casting vote in important decisions, they insist that he is responsible to Christ for this decision, and that sometimes he will believe it right to put aside his own concerns and do what his wife or children prefer. He gives examples in his own life where he saw his wife’s point of view and went along with it. Ideally, discussion would mean that a family or couple go forward in unity anyway; headship certainly doesn’t mean authoritarianism, or always getting one’s own way.

I’m not sure there’s anything in this that I found particularly useful, and much that wasn’t relevant to my situation anyway. But it made an interesting quick read, and certainly gives a positive viewpoint of marriage, while remaining realistic. Intended for those who are believers, and, unusually, with more advice for men than for women.

Perhaps worth picking up if you see it in a charity shop; in its day it was probably helpful and gave a somewhat different perspective. But in my view there are better books available now on the topic. I’d particularly recommend Gary Chapman’s ‘Four Seasons of Marriage’ for a contemporary look at the subject.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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