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Book Review: Strengthening Marital Intimacy

Submitted to Dr. Scott Hawkins, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course,

PACO 603 Premarital and Marital Counseling


Jason Locke April 8, 2012

INTRODUCTION It is the hallmark of Genesis creation story when God finally makes a helpmeet for Adam. It is interesting that Adam then makes the statement for this reason shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:23-24). God intended that man and woman would become as one through intimacy. Ronald Hawkins book Strengthening Marital Intimacy shows people a picture of how to grow this aspect in ones marriage. This review will focus upon the key elements that make it possible to strengthen intimacy in a marriage. SUMMARY Commitment is the key to marital intimacy and Ronald Hawkins spends a great deal of time explaining this in the book. He starts out by laying the foundation of Gods design was that couples have an intimate marriage. Hawkins describes how God intended every marriage to be a result of teamwork. It is important for husband and wife to realize that they are on the same team (Hawkins 1991, 13). The idea was that Eve was to be Adams helper and this does not mean that Eve was somehow inferior to Adam (Hawkins 1991, 15). The introduction of sin into the world caused the power struggle to in sue that would not be removed until the death of Jesus upon the cross (15-17). Gods design from the beginning was the there would be harmony in the relationship but sin interfered with that plan. Gods goal for marriage is that it be an intimate one. Hawkins explains that there are three areas of intimacy that can be developed based upon Pauls letter to the Thessalonians, spiritual intimacy, intimacy of soul, and physical intimacy (24-26). The majority of the book reveals the areas that Hawkins believe are the foundation to an intimate marriage: commitment to wisdom directives, commitment to reality, commitment to Gods sovereignty, commitment to the other person, commitment to the control and enjoyment of sexuality, 2

commitment to communication, and commitment to companioning. Hawkins describes that marriage is a social contract and the couple has obligations to the society to which they must live by (34). The word commitment is not in the Bible, however the words derivatives committed and commit are. The words carry the meaning of doing or practicing something and delivering or entrusting something to a person (35). One of the main points behind commitment is the idea that it is not about the person but about the partner. It is the trusting unconditionally the person to which one wants to marry. There are many roadblocks to intimacy that can derail the process quick. One of the major ones is that of unforgiveness. Hawkins points out that holding grudges destroys intimacy (39). Even though it may not be possible to forget the incidents that have hurt the other, but one must be willing to look past them or suffer the destruction of intimacy with their partner. There were some key areas that this book focuses upon that are crucial to an intimate marriage. Wisdom is a key to solving lifes problems and one of the key foundations to building intimacy. Hawkins describes wisdom as the creative solutions, rooted in biblical truth, for lifes problems (45). Hawkins makes the point that there are two types of wisdom the one that is based from above and comes from God. Then there is the one that is based upon the earthly values and is from below. The idea here is that couples seek after the wisdom of God who knows them better than they know themselves. Reality has many different definitions offered by secularists. The biblical reality is based upon what God says about this world. His reality is the true reality. The fact is life is hard. There is no perfect anything and couples who marry are doing so to imperfect people (58). Reality begins with God who can turn peoples worst intentions to his good purposes (Romans 8:28) (Hawkins, 59). It is the trusting of God that no matter how bad things get God will see them through.

Commitment to the other person seems like something that does not need to be mentioned in a book like this but the fact is this is the single greatest problem with intimacy not flourishing. Hawkins states that it takes a conscience effort to understand ones spouse, it takes work (80). In doing this one needs to appreciate all aspects of their partners personality. It is the acceptance of the differences that each partner has from the other that makes intimacy possible (86). Commitment to communication and companioning go hand in hand. God expects couples to work out issues by communicating. Hawkins points out that the model for great communication is God for he is the great communicator (109). The idea of companioning is the concept that a marriage is only as strong as the couples willingness to do things together (123). CONCRETE RESPONSE The part of the book that struck me the most was that I made many of the same mistakes that Hawkins has made in his marriage. The one true episode from my life that stands out is that when we were first married I had a hard time breaking from getting my mothers opinion on issues that would come up in our life. I never really wanted to communicate with my wife unless it agreed with my mothers opinion. I remember getting into a huge argument over financial situations that we were in and wanting to ask my parents about it instead of just listening to my wife for the best solution. I had not started to trust that opinion yet and had indeed made it hard for her to communicate in our marriage. It took almost a year until I realized that this was our life and that in order for us to make it as a couple I needed to get to fully know this person. Acceptance is the thing that stood out the most in this chapter for me. I have had to learn over the years to accept the differences that we have and adapt to them. The fact is we will probably never think alike on matters and that is fine as long as we really listen to the other and try and understand. The fact is marriage is hard work and communication is one of the key 4

areas that break down often in my marriage. One of the other things that stood out to me is that I have let some idols take up my energy that belongs to my wife. I have let school in the past be one of those idols. I have recently decided that my first priority is to my wife and I need to be able to stop my concentration on my education and focus on her when she needs me. REFLECTION One of the areas that I would like more clarification on is how the commitment to Gods sovereignty will indeed improve my marriage. I want to read more on this subject because even though I realize that God is sovereign I am not sure that my actions speak to this. The area that I most enjoyed about this book was the chapter on reality and how reality is distorted if not seen from Gods perspective. The fact is that unless I understand God more there is no way that I will understand my wife more. God is the one that has made her and he is the one that knows her. In order for me to grasp her personality I need to be open with God to show me how she functions differently than me. There is no such thing as the perfect marriage and the fact is my wife and I are both very stubborn and were very set in our ways before getting married, both being 32. It has been interesting to see that God has been right there seeing us through our marriage and lives together. We have had rough times and good times but God has remained the same throughout. The reality is that it has always been hard for me to trust but that is exactly what God wants me to do. I first need to trust him and that will allow me to trust my wife. I have worked on this since we have been married and I will continue to work on it. APPLICATION The following three areas I need to work on in my marriage, my commitment to my wife, my commitment to communication, and my commitment to companioning. In the area of commitment to my wife I must continue not to allow other things like ministry and education to come in the way of my 5

wife. I can become very compartmentalized and lose focus of my wife in the midst of all the other things going on. Acceptance of the fact that neither of us is perfect is crucial and the acceptance that she does not think like me. In the area of communication I need to remember that she has very valid points she contributes. I need to continue to allow her the opportunities to tell me what is really going on and I need to listen to those issues and not try and solve them. In the area of companioning I want to do more things together that we both enjoy. We both have a love of history and we like to geocache. I want to incorporate more of these things into our lives. Also just going and doing something together is what I enjoy. I need to purposefully plan these events. CONCLUSION The book is a must read for those contemplating marriage and for those that already are married. Hawkins book offers a way for couples to live an intimate marriage, God intended marriage to be the uniting of two people into one flesh and the principles of this book help to show how to accomplish this. The goal of this book is not to be an end all when it comes to intimacy but a guide to how to make it stronger.