God Loves Women

A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn't realise this


Book Review: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

Posted by God Loves Women on October 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM

The wonderful Leslie Vernick asked me if I would be willing to read and review her new book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”. If you would like to buy the book, you can do so here.


For anyone who isn’t familiar with the author, Leslie Vernick is a licensed clinical social worker and relationship coach who has been working supporting people for over thirty years. She’s written several books and does much public speaking and media work, mainly across the US. I met Leslie a few years ago in Canada and have much respect for her and the work she does.  You can find out more about her from her website and follow her on twitter.


Overall I found the book to be tremendously helpful and a really practical resource for many women trying to cope in the midst of a destructive marriage. It is written from a conservative evangelical position and is the first book about domestic abuse I have read from that perspective that I would feel able to recommend. For those coming from a less conservative faith context, or those who hold a feminist viewpoint, this book may not be your cup of tea. However if you know women from the conservative Christian community who are suffering abuse, this would be an ideal book to encourage them to read.


Leslie uses real life examples from her counselling practice alongside a wide range of Biblical texts, exploring both specific verses and wider themes across Scripture. She does this well and with much thought, however as her Biblical approach sits within a conservative understanding of Scripture it may not be helpful for those with a more liberal hermeneutic.


I think for a lot of women, this book is a powerful tool in empowering them and giving them the knowledge they need to move their lives forward. Leslie’s advice is very wise and helpful for women in many situations, however for those with high risk perpetrators who may be experiencing high levels of control, the solutions within the book are unlikely to be helpful. Personally, I found Leslie’s approach to women being able to change their situation really challenging. On the one hand, I truly believe women need to be empowered and enabled to make their own choices, but many women I have worked with are so controlled, and have so little power, that asserting themselves could put them at serious risk. I am still mulling over the ideas proposed by Leslie and trying to decide whether the issues are in my own preconceptions, or within the book itself, but regardless of this, I feel that for many women whose partners are not high risk offenders, the book will be an invaluable resource.  In fact, I have since lent the book to a Christian woman who is currently seperated from her abusive husband, and she had told me the book is amazing and is really making a difference to her.  She has told me "I can't put it down, it's amazing!"


With my feminist head on (if that is such a thing...) I found some of the language and lack of a wider critique of society and culture unhelpful, but as the intended audience is not a feminist one, I think the author has pitched the content just right. I am so grateful to Leslie for writing a book that I can recommend to women experiencing abuse who say to me “I don’t want this but God/the Church/my Pastor says I can’t leave” and pray that God would use the book and Leslie’s wisdom to impact many women, men and churches.

Categories: Women and the Church, Leaving an abusive relationship, The Church

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