rating: 4 of 5 stars
At first glance, the cover and title of this book and its partner book, The ABCs of Choosing a Good Wife were off-putting to say the least. It seemed juvenile to think one could just apply a list to select a spouse. In fact, everyone I've known who has a "list" for a spouse, usually ends up disappointed because the "perfect" partner doesn't exist except in our imaginations.
However, once I got into this book, I found the ideas riveting and somewhat frightening. The reason they were frightening is because the author, Stephen Wood, makes sense when he speaks to young women about what qualities make a good husband. Unfortunately, many of these qualities women hope their future husbands will have, such as being self-giving, considerate, patient, affectionate, generous, honorable, humble, strong, caring, responsible and mature, are often qualities that young men today are lacking. Sometimes women will fall in love anyway and hope to "change" their husbands once they're married. The truth is marriage isn't the force to change their behaviors. In fact, marriage can sometimes exacerbate underlying character flaws such as irresponsibility, immaturity, narcissism, and selfishness.
The most frightening chapter of all is chapter 18, "Ruinous Effects of Pornography on Your Future Marriage." I recently chatted with a priest friend at a party and he told me he is concerned that so many young men today have a warped view of sexuality due to pornography that they might not be able to make and keep a sacramental marriage. The plague of pornography has become so widespread, that some experts suggest as much as 70% of all college-aged men use pornography and some of these will go on to be so addicted to it that they will prefer pornographic experiences over real women.
According to Stephen Wood: "Annual porn profits exceed the combined revenues of all the professional football, basketball, and baseball franchises." And, "Every thirty-nine minutes a new porn video is created in the United States."
As if those statistics aren't scary enough, he goes on to outline the extent to which pornography has affected Christian men. "In a 1996 survey, 53% of Promise Keepers (Christian men) admitted to viewing porn within a week of attending a PK event." And, "In a (Protestant) pastors.com survey, 54% of pastors said they viewed porn within the past 12 months."
He goes on to say the pornography crisis is even worse among Catholic men. It has affected Catholic men in all walks of life, from priests and deacons, to seminarians (even at the "good" seminaries), to youth group and campus leaders and students on orthodox Catholic college campuses to Catholic homeschooling fathers. Some estimates are that half of all the men attending your parish are ensnared by pornography. He estimates at least two-thirds of all eligible Catholic men have a problem with pornography. That's scary.
Pornography is addictive to men particularly because it causes chemical changes in the brain. Technology has shown us that when pornography is viewed, there are at least a half-dozen neuro-chemicals released into the brain which not only gives the viewer pleasure, but also permanently etches images in his memory. Like other addictions, greater extremes of pornography must be viewed in order for the brain to register the same feelings of pleasure. Ultimately, the man has become a slave to pornography and will choose the pictures or videos over being with his wife.
There are other issues that can kill a marriage, and Stephen Wood lays them all out, in ABC order, to help young women navigate the way to a happy and healthy marriage.
I highly recommend this book to parents as well as young women and men who are contemplating the vocation of marriage.
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