The self-described thesis of Dr. Larry Crabb’s book is that “Christ is adequate to meet our needs fully.” He argues that our purpose in marriage is to minister to our spouse and that we should not demand anything in return. Desire, yes; demand, no. The reason we are able to do this is that our need for security and significance are met entirely by Christ. I probably would’ve said that I understood and agreed with this prior to reading the book, but Crabb does a excellent job of illustrating what that looks like in our lives when we’re believing it and when we’re not. It has definitely changed the way I interact with my husband and has provided me with an attitude adjustment of the best kind. (The kind where my my motivations are corrected and things become more joyful, not the kind where someone’s wagging a finger at me.)
Two parts were particularly insightful and helpful to me. The first was his differentiation between a goal and a desire. A goal is an objective entirely within my control. A desire is an objective over which I have influence, but not complete control. The obvious example desire is for our spouses to treat us a certain way. There are things we can do to make our objective more likely to be fulfilled, but we have no way of ensuring they treat us a certain way. The author explains the differences in the way we handle goals and desires (to seriously oversimplify, “[p]ray for your desires and take responsibility for your goals”), and the importance of correctly sorting the objectives we currently have into one of these categories.
The second particularly insightful and helpful part for me was regarding God’s grace as the foundation for our hope. He describes, very movingly, why we never have reason to despair. I would really like to put a quote in here, but to cover it would be much too long, and a shorter quote would, I feel, cripple his argument significantly. The entire 7-page chapter on grace, especially the second half, was a moving argument for hope, and against despair, that truly applies to every aspect of our lives.
I’m very interested now in reading Crabb’s other book(s) on counseling. (I know there is at least one.) It would seem that the thesis of his book would translate neatly into how to interact with anyone in life. There are many parts specific to marriage, obviously, but the overarching theme of how, as a fallen being, to relate to another fallen being, was helpful for me in how I view every relationship in my life.