In Defending Traditional Marriage, Dr. Willard Harley, Jr. has declared war on those factors that end marriages or relegate them to misery. Using guidelines from marriage vows themselves, Dr. Harley shows the extraordinary care that married couples expect when they marry. He explains how to rebuild that level of care, the obstacles to it, and ways to avoid infidelity and divorce. He confronts legislative and social enemies that have decayed marriage, and ends with the dangers of legislating homosexual marriage.
As a man in love with one woman for over forty years and as a behavioral psychologist with thirty years of practice in marriage counseling, Harley passionately defends marriage. He eschews the popular ideas that marriage should not meet the emotional needs of the spouses, that marriages in trouble are not worth saving, that couples should live independently while living in a marriage, or that children can do just fine in divorced families. However, he also decries abuse in marriage, and urges spouses in abusive situations to leave if the abuser will not change.
He divides the book into four sections: Extraordinary Care, Romantic Exclusivity, Permanence, and One Man, One Woman. From a practical level, he makes a lot of sense. In the extraordinary care section he shows that a couple's meeting of four emotional needs usually saves a marriage: sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, affection, and intimate conversation. He lists others but in his view, these are the biggies. He encourages couples to try to meet each other's emotional needs and to try to avoid love busters like selfish demands, disrespectful judgments, angry outbursts, dishonesty, annoying habits, and independent behavior. His ideas are both workable and sensible in most cases.
Harley doesn't deal overtly with spiritual ramifications or reasoning, although the underlying philosophy is there. He doesn't quote Scripture. Most readers could feel comfortable giving the book to non-Christian friends who would reject overtly Christian books.
Defending Traditional Marriage is well written and engaging. Harley keeps the reader turning pages with strong reasoning, readable discussion, and occasional anecdotes. This book was not what I expected; it was much better. It goes on my short list of good books on marriage. -- Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
Why does traditional marriage need to be defended?
Traditional marriage is a permanent and sexually exclusive relationship of extraordinary care between one man and one woman.
But marriage, as defined this way, has been under attack for more than seventy five years, and if you're married-or planning to be-that's not good news. In fact, those attacking traditional marriage have been winning. Why? And what can be done about it?
Willard F. Harley, Jr., nationally acclaimed clinical psychologist and best-selling author, believes you can not only protect your own family from falling prey to these legal and cultural attacks but also help reverse the trend that characterizes today's marriage-unfriendly culture.
Historically, traditional marriage has provided two primary advantages over any other relationships: safety and stability. If either of these advantages is undermined, the success of an entire society is threatened. With heated sanctity-of-marriage debates swirling around us, whose responsibility is it to defend what's left of traditional marriage?
According to Dr. Harley, "It starts with you."