Douglas Wilson is at his best when writing on familial issues, and Reforming Marriage is no exception. While Standing on the Promises and Future Men focus more on child rearing, this work addresses marriage, with topics such as gender roles, reconciliation, birth control, child rearing, sexuality, and divorce.
Among Wilson’s strengths is his call for men to awake from their stupor of irresponsibility and reclaim godly leadership in the home. He addresses wives, but directs more of his comments toward husbands. For example: “When a couple comes for marriage counseling, my operating assumption is always that the man is completely responsible for all the problems” (32) and “wives are much more likely to be wronged by their husbands than the other way around (133). A possible weakness may be that because the book is so heavily geared toward rebuke and admonition toward the husband (which I applaud), it may not be as helpful a read for wives.
Wilson is known for being a funny, witty writer, so this could be a fun read with your spouse.
- A crescent wrench can be used to pound in nails, but that is not what a crescent wrench is for. There are some tasks detached from the home in which women do outstanding work. But just because someone is able to do a job does not mean that he or she is called by God to the task. (31)
- In order for men to respect weakness [in their wives], they must recognize it as their own weakness. She is not his adversary. The weakness is on his own team; it is his own family. (35)
- A husband must be jealous and protective. And under numerous circumstances, it is a sin not to be jealous. (45)
- Many wives… treat being tired as though it were a symptom of having done something wrong. Rather, it is a symptom of having done many things right. (49)
- When sins are confessed, it is like picking up something that was dropped on the carpet. If a person learns to pick things up immediately, a thousand things can be dropped on the carpet, and the home will still remain clean. But if things are only picked up once every six months, the result will be an overwhelming house cleaning job. (67)
- Wives need to be led with a firm hand. A wife will often test her husband in some area, and be deeply disappointed (and frustrated) if she wins. It is crucial that a husband give to his wife what the Bible says she needs, rather than what she says she wants. (80)
- In marital conversation, words like “never” and “always” are attack words. (92)
- Those who deny that [sexual activity and nudity on the screen] affect them are simply deceiving themselves. There is no way to watch—for entertainment—bed scenes or displays of nudity without being affected negatively in some way. But there are men who deny that such things affect them. ‘That was a really good movie. Shame about that one scene, though.’ But in his heart, that one scene was the morsel he kept under his tongue. (111)
- Our culture is dong to sex what people who chew with their mouths open do to food. (117)
- A large number of children are a larger blessing—or a larger curse. Samuel would not have been more greatly blessed if he had had five sons who took bribes instead of two. Joel and Abijah were enough. (120)