You’ve probably heard of John and Stasi Eldredge before. Just walk into any Christian bookstore, and their books always get top billing in the personal growth section. I’ve read John’s groundbreaking book, Wild at Heart, as well as Stasi’s female version, directed towards women readers, Captivating. Both had some good insight to offer about male and female roles, but I found both to be a bit tough to read. Not that they were difficult, but they were just all over the place and disorganized in both thought and structure.
The Eldredges have teamed up for their latest writing venture, a relationship book directed to married folks called Love and War. And, as could be expected, it’s very similar to those other books in both style and themes. Basically, if you loved their other books, chances are, you’ll feel the same way about this one. And if like me, you enjoyed several of their take home points but grew frustrated with the delivery of the material, you’ll also have the same kind of experience with this book.
Love and War picks up where the other books left off, with a grand metanarrative structuring our lives, how we’re all part of a story. This time, it’s a fairy tale, where the hero husband rescues the beautiful wife in distress. This loose interwoven theme pops up again and again in the book, bringing together the male roles discussed in Wild at Heart and the female roles from Captivating.
The book reads more like a series of personal stories than a point by point look at marriage. I found this intensely frustrating, since I like to “get to the point” in my reading. I had to read it with pen in hand to underline the occasional key points that popped up, often in the middle of paragraphs, in the middle of chapters, any old place. And there were some good key points, they just weren’t all that original. I’ll give them credit for creative phrasing, but overall, the book didn’t offer much that others in the genre have offered. It just takes those same marriage enriching points and situates them in the context of the Eldredge’s storybook view of genders.
My favorite chapter was entitled “The Little Foxes” after that verse in Song of Songs: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom” (2:15). Personally, I thought Pastor Mark Driscoll did a better job on this topic in his Song of Solomon series, which you can find here. But there were some great points hidden in the stories within the chapter, which was likely the most organized and to the point chapter (which explains why I liked it the most). The chapter addressed some of the little things in marriage that can build up and cause big problems.
I also liked the chapter called “A Shared Adventure” because it is the most unique offering in the book. It’s the most focused on the Eldredge’s story of a man and woman on an adventure together, with the man leading and the woman alongside him in the call.
Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah and Doubleday books for providing me with a review copy of this book. To learn more about the book, visit the publisher’s website.