Thursday, March 5, 2009

365 Nights

Book Review: 365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy, Charla Muller with Betsy Thorpe

At first glance this may seem like an odd book for me to read, let alone comment on. However, it is a good book. I will include the description of it from her blog (which is better than I could summarise!):

“365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy” came out June 24th by Berkley Books, a division of Penguin. It’s a funny and intimate look into turning 40, being married and wondering if there is more to marriage than laundry, babysitters and negotiating the DVR. It started when Charla’s husband was about to celebrate four decades on this planet, and she offered to give him something memorable – something that only she could give.

She offered him sex every day for a year.

This book documents that year. It’s not the behind-the-scene details of their sex life (which, really, would not be all that interesting), but rather a modest, G-rated story about how a year of daily intimacy transformed a marriage. About how the “stuff” everyone brings to a marriage can bear down on the relationship, intimacy and the desire to connect...

This book is not intended to be a self-help book. Charla insists that she has no more business counseling someone on their marriage than her mailman. Rather, it’s a book about the ups and downs of married life, trying to have it all (and failing) and figuring out how to get back to the basics of a grounded, faith-based marriage.

Here are some of my thoughts having read this book (which echo some of her observations):

Some minor thoughts:

  1. It was a thought-provoking and insightful look at marriage, parenting, the role of women and a number of other topics
  2. It issues a challenge (especially to women) not to settle for or allow their marriages to become 'un-intimate'
  3. She dealt with a delicate subject with reasonable care and choice of words. It was never seedy, titillating or inappropriate.
More detailed thoughts:
  1. I have often observed, especially in Christian circles, that people rarely talk openly about their marriages, let alone the intimacy of their marriage. I wonder if this is helpful? So many marriages struggle in different ways, but the feeling that everyone else out there is happily married prevents openness amongst even close friends. I suspect intimacy is rarely spoken of even within some marriages.
  2. Intimacy or sex is not meant to be viewed as the 'icing on the cake' in a marriage, but a crucial part of it and we have a responsibility to each other, as instructed by God to care for the intimate part of our marriage. 1 Corinthians 7:5 indicates that we should not deprive one another for any period of time, except for prayer - an excuse I have rarely heard used!
  3. The decision to have intimacy much more often in a marriage requires both to make the time from somewhere else to do so. Sounds too practical, but it is true - if you planned to make love every day for a year, what would you have to give up - the TV, the novels, the blog time? And would you consider it a sacrifice that was worth it? This could be a good indicator of how highly we value intimacy in our marriages.
  4. The only risk I thought this book may have had was raising the status of sex too high in a marriage. We don't want it to become our idol on the altar of marriage.
I won't spoil the ending by telling you what her final conclusions were, but I liked them.

Also, I won't tell you what our conclusions were after both reading it - but put it this way, we are both happier these days!

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