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Love Must Be Tough: New Hope for Marriages in Crisis Paperback – April 1, 2007
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At the core of most marital conflicts lies an overlooked but vicious culprit: disrespect. According to Dr. James Dobson, this symptom is the most serious indicator of potential family breakup. In his groundbreaking classic that popularized the "tough love" principle, Dr. Dobson offers practical help for the spouse who wants to hold the marriage together. He shows how to rekindle romantic interest and draw the offending partner back home. For new generations faced with ever-increasing threats to stable and loving bonds, Love Must Be Tough offers realistic hope.
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I bought this book and read it and applied its suggestions and ended up making the situation much, much worse.
God directed me to Rejoice Marriage Ministries, a ministry of Bob & Charlyne Steinkamp where I found what it means to stand for my prodigal spouse and my covenant marriage. The principles and practical applications taught there begin with love is unconditional, keeps no record of wrongs, and believes and hopes all things, including the repentance and restoration of prodigal spouses and hopeless marriages.
I believe Dr. Dobson's heart is in the right place and much of his teaching in this book take a hard line against sin and adultery as it should, but I feel if fails in one huge area, which is this....
Prodigals, wayward spouses, already don't care what they are giving up to pursue things outside their marriage. They are wounded and hurting inside themselves having given Satan a foothold and now are fully captive to the sin they are pursuing. They need a spouse who can and will have the sacrificial love of Christ for them while praying to the ONLY one who can heal, restore, and deliver them, not one who issues ultimatums and conditions as is taught in this book.
I intend no disrespect to Dr. Dobson and the fine things he has done over the years, but at the most basic level, God's love is meant to be unconditional and there is NO PLACE for tough love in a marriage relationship.
A 'Stander' in TX
If you find yourself in a similar situation to me you will find both books incredibly inspiring and encouraging. All I can say is that the more self respect and detachment I can muster up, the more my husband seems interested in sticking around. The more I cling, the farther away he goes. I have now experienced this phenomenon repeatedly over the months. Every time I am tough, it gets my husband's attention. I have made some big mistakes, and had some triumphs. I am still trying to wait out my husband's mid life crisis, and I am learning so much about respecting myself while I do so.
If you are neither comfortable with filing divorce, or being a doormat, you will find lots of excellent advice here.
However, I disagree that if they come back, you should take the back. First of all, their return could be because their affair partner dumped them, so they come to you, not out of love, but as a temporary ego boost 'till they find someone better. Second, everyone I've known who's taken back a cheater has been cheated on again...and these weren't weaklings either. These were tough love people who made it clear that cheating was unacceptable and yet, still got cheated on again.
When people cheat, it's very likely because they have a victim mentality, a narcissistic sense of entitlement, poor impulse control, an inconsistent conscience, and a passive-aggressive way of dealing with problems. So while taking back a cheater is a personal call, with that deadly combo of traits, it's very likely you'll get cheated on again because those traits don't just go away.
I also disagree with the length of this book as many points are simply repeated, so this book could've been much shorter in length.
I first read this book and another book on tough love, applied the principals, and they only backfired. I hurt my husband even more, causing him more pain and humiliation and ended up more bitter and resentful myself. I had no peace using tough love. Applying tough love was just another way for me to try to control the situation because I felt like I had none.
God led me to Rejoice Marriage Ministries as well, and I found the way of marriage restoration. There is true peace, humility, joy, and love in forgiveness. The wayward spouse is also in a lot of pain coming from many places, but have we not all been there at one time? Haven't we all made poor choices because our minds were deceived? Thank God He does not always give us what we deserve.
By God's grace, I forgave and loved my husband unconditially, and left the rest for him and God to work out. And God did. By the grace of God, after 2 years of divorce, my husband and I were remarried, and we are rebuilding our marriage. It takes more faith to believe in a God that heals impossible situations. As Christians, we are called to take the narrow path: faith, hope, and love.
A 'Stander' in Kentucky now 'Restored' in New York (remarried in 2012)