Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage

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9780307730213: Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage

With astonishing vulnerability that engages readers from the first page, John and Stasi Eldredge openly discuss their own marriage and the breakthroughs they have won from the challenges they’ve faced. Each talks to the reader about what he and she have learned, providing a balance between male and female perspectives that has been absent from previous books on this topic.
 
John and Stasi begin Love & War with an obvious confession: Marriage is fabulously hard. But beneath and behind the inevitable tensions a man and woman “locked in the same submarine” are going to have, the real battle is against the work of the Enemy, who plots and schemes to tear love apart. The Eldredges show how couples can win “by fighting for each other, instead of against each other.” As they say, “We live in a great love story, set in the midst of war.”

“This is a book of wisdom and hope...a beautiful labor that will move your marriage to far deeper joy.” Dan. B. Allender, author of The Wounded Heart

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

John Eldredge is the director of Ransomed Heart in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a fellowship devoted to helping people discover the heart of God. John is the author of numerous books, including Wild at Heart, Waking the Dead and Desire, and the coauthor of Captivating. Stasi Eldredge is the coauthor (with John) of Captivating; she leads the women’s events of Ransomed Heart. John and Stasi have been married for twenty-seven years, and they have three fabulous sons.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

Introduction
It Can Be Done
 
 
 “Dearly Beloved, we have gathered here today in the presence of God to witness the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this  manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. . . .”
 
And so the ceremony begins.
 
It is a ritual ancient as time and young as the hearts of the man and woman standing before us. (These brides and grooms look younger every year.) John is officiating. The bride and groom are dear friends. They are in love. We, their family and friends, are here to support them, celebrate them, all dressed up in our Sunday best. The church is glowing with candlelight; the flowers are so lovely. The Groom looks terrified but happy; the Bride is nervous and radiant. Suddenly I wonder, Did I sit on the proper side? Was it Bride’s side on the left, Groom’s side on the right? Or the other way around? The bridesmaids are stunning. Oh dear. They won’t be wearing those dresses ever again!
 
John continues, “The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy. . . .”
 
He looks so handsome in a suit and tie. I remember how he looked on our wedding day in that fabulous black tux with tails. I hope he asks me to dance at the reception.
 
“Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.”
 
The liturgy begins to settle us in. The church quiets, the coughing
subsides, people are paying attention.
 
“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
 
No matter how many weddings I attend, there is something inexplicably stirring about all this— the ceremony, the making of vows, the great cloud of witnesses, something about this remarkable act feels. How does one describe it? Mythic.
 
“Daniel and Megan, you are about to abandon yourselves to each other, throw caution to the wind, forsake independence, isolation and all others. You will vow to each other your undying love. Before you do, we must call this what it is— this is perfect madness.”
 
That got the crowd’s attention.
 
“As an aspiration, how lovely. As a reality, how rare. Everyone wants love; everyone is looking for love. Few seem to find what they are looking for; fewer still seem able to sustain it. Why in heaven’s name would you come to church to publicly dedicate yourselves to something so risky, so fraught with danger, so scandalous? ‘The heart has its reasons,’ Pascal confessed, ‘that reason knows not of.’ Deep in the wellspring of our hearts there is a desire— for intimacy, beauty, and adventure. And no matter what anyone might say, we look for it all the days of our lives.”
 
“Friends, I know what you are thinking. As you watch this today, there is something in your heart that says, ‘Well, maybe. Maybe this time. Maybe this couple.’ But what if, what if Daniel and Megan, in all their frail humanity, are living out before us right now a picture, a metaphor of something far more real and substantial. I’d like to suggest that this no common passion play. Things are never what they seem. If you would see things clearly you must see with the eyes of the heart. That is the secret of every fairy tale, because it is the secret to the Gospel, because it is the secret to life.”
 
“Scripture tells us that we might at any time entertain an angel simply by welcoming a stranger. The serpent in the garden is really the Prince of Darkness. The carpenter from Nazareth— there is more to him than meets the eye as well. Things are not what they
seem, and so if we would understand our lives— and especially our marriages— we must listen again to the Gospel and the fairy tales based upon it. There are larger events unfolding around us, events of enormous consequence. A lamp is lit and love is lost. A box is opened and evil swarms into the world. An apple is taken and mankind is plunged into darkness. Moments of immense consequence are taking place all around us. Especially this.”
 
“Dearly Beloved, you see before you a man and a woman. But there is more here than meets the eye. God gave to us this passion play to reenact, right here and now, the story of the ages. This is the story of mankind, the one story we have been telling ourselves over and over again, in every great myth and legend and poem and song. It is a love story, set in the midst of desperate times, set in the midst of war. It is a story of a shared quest. It is a story of romance. Daniel and Megan are playing out before you now the deepest and most mythic reality in the world. This is the story of God’s romance with mankind.”
 
I’m curious what the audience is thinking. When John speaks of love and marriage as deeper than fairy tale, what does our heart say in reply? I know the young women listening just said in their hearts, Oh I hope that is true! I long for that to be true! The young men are wondering, If that is true, what is this going to require of me? The older women filter this through the years of our actual marital experience; they are thinking, Hmmm. (It is a mixture of Yes, I once longed for that, and, Perhaps it will come true for her; I wonder if it still might come true for me.) And the older men sitting here now are simply thinking, I wonder if the reception will have an open bar?
 
“You don’t believe me,” John says. “But that’s because we don’t understand fairy tales and we don’t understand the Gospel which they are trying to remind us of. They are stories of danger; they are stories where evil is very, very real. They are stories which require immense courage and sacrifice. A boy and a girl thrown together in some desperate journey. If we believed it, if we actually saw what was taking place right here, right now, we would cross ourselves. We would say desperate prayers, earnest prayers. We would salute them both and we would hold our breath for what happens next. Daniel and Megan, it is time to make your vows. After this, there is no turning back.”
 
I find myself wondering, What did the ancients know, that they placed vows at the core of this ceremony? Did they understand that the crushing weight of all our desire would break a marriage, that we needed something far more substantial to secure this frail union? It makes me think of the Special Forces, vowing their lives to one another as they embark on a perilous mission in dark lands, the outcome of which remains quite uncertain. Vows.
 
“. . . from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance, and forsaking all others, I will be yours alone as long as we both shall live.”
 
The church is now very, very quiet. Only the older couples have any idea what these lovebirds have just promised, bless their hearts. They really believe that their marriage will somehow avert the darker side of the pledge; surely what they have in mind now is all their hopes and dreams of the “for better, richer, in health” parts. We all believed that. But Cortes has just burned his ships, and a good thing, too.
 
Next comes the rings, and John’s charge to the couple. I love this part. What do you say to the young man entering marriage? What do you say to the young woman?
 
“Daniel, you are about to give your life away. You are stepping up, you are volunteering for the toughest assignment a man will ever be given: To offer your heart and your strength to Megan, time and time and time again, for the rest of your days. You have some sense of the weightiness of it. That’s why you have that nervous grin on your face.
But there was a reason they chose young men to send to the beaches at Normandy; they did not for the most part know what was coming. Older men would have been harder to recruit. I will not lie to you—nothing will be harder. And nothing will be richer. My words to you today are: It can be done. And it is worth it. To discover that because of your strength and your sacrifice Megan can become the woman she was meant to be, that somehow your fierce love can free her heart and release her beauty— that is worth what ever this may cost you. By the grace of God, you can do this. You have what it takes.”
 
“Megan, you have dreamed of this day for a long, long time. And now you, also, are about to give your life away. It might seem easy and natural at first, to offer your feminine heart and your vulnerable beauty to Daniel. But do not be deceived. Nothing requires more courage than for a woman to truly offer herself to her man time and time and time again. Look around. Do you see many older women risking this? But I also say to you: It can be done. And it is worth it. To discover that because of your beauty and your sacrifice Daniel can become the man he was meant to be, that somehow your fierce love can free his heart and arouse his strength— that is worth what ever this may cost you. By the grace of God, you can do this. You are that beautiful woman.”
 
“Daniel, Megan, in choosing marriage you have chosen an assignment at the frontlines in this epic battle for the human heart. You will face hardship, you will face suffering, you will face opposition, and you will face a lie. The scariest thing a woman ever offers is to believe that she is worth pursuing, to open her heart up to pursuit, to continue to open up her heart and offer the beauty she holds inside, all the while fearing it will not be enough. The scariest thing a man ever chooses is to offer his strength without knowing how things will turn out. To take the risk of playing the man before the outcome is decided. To offer his heart of strength while fearing it will not be enough.”
 
 “A lie is going to come to both of you, starting very soon, in subtle and not- so-subtle ways. It can’t be done. It’s too hard. We had unrealistic expectations. It isn’t worth it. The lie to you, Megan, will be, ‘You are nothing more than a disappointment.’ And the lie to you, Daniel, will be, ‘You are not really man enough for this.’ And so, I have two words for you today. Words that I want you to keep close in your hearts as you go forward: You are. Megan, you are radiant, you shimmer, you shine, you are a treasure of a woman, a gem, you are. Daniel, you are a man, you are strong, and you are valiant. You have what it takes. Hold this close to your hearts. It can be done. And it is worth it.”
 
John pauses to let this all sink in. I know what he is doing— he is speaking to us, to the men and women watching, far more than to dear Daniel and Megan who are too excited, and weary, filled with adrenaline and hormones and somewhat delirious by this point that they will only remember these words if they watch the tape later. Like premarital counseling, so much of the wisdom of this moment cannot be appreciated until we have a few years of “life together” under our belts. Then we have ears to hear. So John pauses for us to take it all in. A breeze blows through the sanctuary. The candles flicker in reply with a higher flame. I hope that is what is happening in every heart. May the fire within each of our hearts leap to the hope of this message.
 
And then he prays. We need to pray by this point; we have been practically holding our breath. We need a release for the tension and somewhere deep in our souls we know help is needed from higher places.
 
“Father, we believe in you. We believe you are God, the creator of life and love and the only one who makes it all possible. We come to you, more desperate than we know, to ask your Presence here, your favor upon Daniel and Megan, to ask your deepest blessing upon their marriage. Give them courage. Give them a clear heart and mind and will for all that they have just now pledged. And give to us, their witnesses, eyes to see and ears to hear what you are saying to each of us, through this passion play. Let hope arise. Let love prevail. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
 
Then comes the kiss (okay, maybe I love this part the most, it’s so romantic). And the presentation of the new couple. Cheers. Music. Somewhere in the heavens, I imagine trumpets sounding and white doves being released. How God must love this!
 
As we join the recessional and walk out of the church into the warm summer evening, we are all caught up for a moment in a joyful sobriety. The timeless ritual, the courage and love of the young couple, and the deeper mythic story are having an effect upon us. As well they should. Desire is stirring within us. Longing calls to us. This is what we all were made for.
 
A warm breeze swirls among the crowd, and we instinctively turn our faces into it. The exotic perfume of magnolia and jasmine are in the air, mingling with the music coming from the reception party. The words linger in our midst. Even the older couples sense the
beckoning. John and I are holding hands. I notice that a number of the couples are holding hands. It can be done. And it is worth it. Of all the things a man or woman need to hear about marriage, this is perhaps the most important of all.
 
It can be done.
And it is worth it.
 
 
Chapter 1
Remembering What We Wanted
 
See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers
appear on the earth; the season of singing has come. . . . Arise,
come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.
-- Song of songs 2:11–13
 
Where do you pick up the story of a marriage? With the first kiss? (It was intoxicating.) The late night phone calls? (They went on for hours.) With an evening picnic on the beach? (It was romantic.) Getting caught by a college roommate making out? (Now that was embarrassing.) When is that moment you decide, I want to be with this person for the rest of my life?
 
Maybe the best place to pick up this story is two years after “I Do,” when we are talking divorce.
 
It was a Sunday. John and I were sitting at our hand- me-down card table having breakfast, in a tiny little matchbox of a house we rented. It was a pretty spring morning in southern California. The hydrangeas were blooming pink and blue on our front porch. I remember the sun filtering through the windows; a beam of light falling across the table between us. But it felt like a wall of glass. I was on my side, John was way over there. It was only a foot or so, but he felt miles away to me. Again.
 
The day was fresh but I was tired. Tired of trying. Tired of feeling like an utter disappointment to my husband who not that many months ago had pledged his heart to me for life. In front of everybody, I might add. Did he even mean it? It wasn’t working. Our marriage wasn’t anywhere near what I had imagined it would be.
 
I broke the familiar silence. “Maybe we should just get a divorce.”
 
We had been married less than three years; our marriage had been full of promise, hope, and possibility. Heavens, I had known the man for five years before we even started dating, and we dated for three years before ge...

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